Thursday, December 15, 2011


Tibullus the Farmer

Tibullus 1.1.1-10:
Divitias alius fulvo sibi congerat auro
    et teneat culti iugera multa soli,
quem labor adsiduus vicino terreat hoste,
    Martia cui somnos classica pulsa fugent:
me mea paupertas vita traducat inerti,        5
    dum meus adsiduo luceat igne focus.
ipse seram teneras maturo tempore vites
    rusticus et facili grandia poma manu:
nec Spes destituat sed frugum semper acervos
    praebeat et pleno pinguia musta lacu.        10
Some of the following 18th century English translations seem to be based on a Latin text in which Scaliger's transpositions of lines 9-10 after 6, and 29-32 after 8, are accepted. Here are lines 29-32:
nec tamen interdum pudeat tenuisse bidentem
    aut stimulo tardos increpuisse boves;        30
non agnamve sinu pigeat fetumve capellae
    desertum oblita matre referre domum.
Translated by Leonard Welsted, in Ambrose Philips' Free-Thinker (Oct. 23, 1719):
Let others wealth amass in heaps of gold,
And many acres plow'd with pride behold;
Disturb'd amidst their daily toil with fears,
Oft as the trumpet sound, or foe appears:

The dire alarm repeated still denies
Peace to their mind, and slumber to their eyes:
An humbler life less painful I require,
While in my parlour shines a nightly fire;

Unblighted while my promis'd harvest grows,
And with the racy grape my vat o'erflows:
Of my own farm the husbandman I'll be,
And prune the vine, and plant the apple-tree;

Nor will I scorn the rustic fork to wield,
Or goad the heifer o'er the furrow'd field;
Or in my arms to bear the bleating lamb,
Or kid forsaken of its heedless dam.
Translated by John Dart, in The Works of Tibullus (London: T. Sharpe, 1720):
Let the rich Miser gather golden Gain,
And live the large Possessor of the plain:
Whom Fears perpetual scare with neighb'ring Foes,
And sounding Trumpets wake his soft Repose.

To me the Fates with sparing Hand dispence,
The humbler Sweets of Ease, and Innocence;
Pleas'd in the Pleasures of a still Retreat,
While constant Fires supply the cheerful Seat.

Here I a Countryman, with ready Hand,
When Seasons call, and proper Times demand,
With tender Vines my Vineyard will recruit,
And plant my Orchard with the choicest Fruit;

Nor one ungrateful Produce of the Year
Shall baulk my Labour, or elude my Care,
Whilst bending Boughs their Golden Weight produce,
And frothy Vats o'erflow with purple Juice.
Translated by James Grainger, in A Poetical Translation of the Elegies of Tibullus; and of the Poems of Sulpicia (London: A. Millar, 1759):
The glitt'ring Ore let others vainly heap,
  O'er fertile Vales extend th' inclosing Mound;
With dread of neighb'ring Foes forsake their Sleep,
  And start aghast at ev'ry Trumpet's Sound.

Me humbler Scenes delight, and calmer Days;
  A tranquil Life fair Poverty secure!
Then boast, my Hearth, a small but cheerful Blaze,
  And Riches grasp who will, let me be poor.

Nor yet be Hope a Stranger to my Door,
  But o'er my Roof, bright Goddess, still preside!
With many a bounteous Autumn heap my Floor,
  And swell my Vats with Must, a purple Tide.

My tender Vines I'll plant with early Care,
  And choicest Apples, with a skilful Hand;
Nor blush, a Rustic, oft to guide the Share,
  Or goad the tardy Ox along the Land.

Let me, a simple Swain, with honest Pride,
  If chance a Lambkin from its Dam should roam,
Or sportful Kid, the little Wanderer chide,
  And in my Bosom bear exulting Home.

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