Boris Pasternak: Hamlet (From Russian)

Hamlet
By Boris Pasternak
Translated by A.Z. Foreman
Click to hear me recite the original Russian

The tumults die. Out of the wings, I enter.
Leaning inside the doorway to the stage,
I seek to catch within a distant echo
A sense of what shall happen in my age. 

A thousand glinting theater glasses focus
Upon my figure in the dark of night. 
If it be in Thy power, Abba Father,
Pray let this cup of torment pass me by.

I love Thy high unwavering conception,
And have agreed to play this part as tasked.
But now another drama is unfolding.
So, just this once, release me from the cast.

But every act has been already written
And journey's end irrevocably marked.
I am alone. All things fall Pharisaic. 
A mortal life is no walk in the park. 


The Original:

Гамлет
Борис Пастернак

Гул затих. Я вышел на подмостки.
Прислонясь к дверному косяку,
Я ловлю в далеком отголоске,
Что случится на моем веку.

На меня наставлен сумрак ночи
Тысячью биноклей на оси.
Если только можно, Aвва Oтче,
Чашу эту мимо пронеси.

Я люблю твой замысел упрямый
И играть согласен эту роль.
Но сейчас идет другая драма,
И на этот раз меня уволь.

Но продуман распорядок действий,
И неотвратим конец пути.
Я один, все тонет в фарисействе.
Жизнь прожить - не поле перейти.

Pushkin: Daemon (From Russian)

In this poem of Pushkin's, the Christian notion of the demon as an evil tempter that leads souls away from God is fused with a daimōn of the classical Socratic sort, a skeptical familiar spirit who impels the erstwhile idealist poet toward cynical doubt in the existence of a higher order. The key theme is doubt, and the terror of it.
Contrary to the hallucinations of the Russian diaspora and post-Soviet Russian nationalists (and the fabrications of contemporaries who either wanted to deflect charges against his character or dragoon him into serving their own ends), Pushkin for the most part never really took Russian Orthodoxy, or its God, very seriously. This was not unusual for someone of his social class with liberal leanings. It would have been strange had he done otherwise, given how completely fused the institution of Russian Orthodoxy was with that of imperial autocracy. Pushkin, a man who prized individualism at times to the point of infantility, had every reason to be skeptical of an institution which legitimized the Tsar - eventually his own personal censor - as quite literally God’s anointed regent on earth, charged to use his autocratic powers to defend Orthodoxy and preserve the morals of the Russian people.
Whether Pushkin ever went through periods of his life during which he doubted the existence of God altogether, we will never know, as atheism in the strict sense was taboo in Pushkin's social circles. However, Pushkin did very strongly believe that things happen for a reason. In recovering alcoholic terms, he believed in a Higher Power which guided a person, had particular designs for individuals, and which it was dangerous and self-destructive to resist or defy. "Luck" and "Chance" were merely the labels attached to the instruments of Fate and Providence. Neither something so mundane as winning a hand at cards, nor something so exalted as inspiration to poetry, nor yet the fate of a nation, were accidental to Pushkin. 
The daemon-induced doubt depicted in this poem is a temporary loss of faith, not in God per se, but in Providence, beauty and ideals, doubt of any higher order that gives meaning to life or to nature and so stifles the creative instinct itself. In the chill of an icy rationalism all things are seen to lose their purpose; beauty is mere fancy in the eye of the beholder, the notion of inspiration becomes an absurd joke. The individualism and freedom to pursue his own destiny have become meaningless in the absence of a coherent destiny at all.

Daemon
By A.S. Pushkin
Translated by A.Z. Foreman
Click to hear me recite the original Russian

In days gone by, when all of life's
Impressions offered me new thrills:
A murmurous grove, a maiden's eyes,
The nightingale in twilit hills....
When my sublimest aspirations
For freedom, glory, love and art
Instilled of holy inspiration,
So stirred the blood and spurred the heart,
Then were the days of bliss and promise
With wakeful anguish overcast,
As secretly a wicked Genius
Began to visit me unasked.
Grim were the meetings that we had:
His witching glance, the grins he stole,
The sting of every word he spat
Infused cold poison through my soul.
With indefatigable slander
He tempted Providence, and smiled. 
Beauty he called a simple fancy,
And inspiration he reviled. 
He doubted freedom, love, salvation
And turned on life a sneering gaze,
As there was naught in all Creation
He cared to bless with any praise.


The Original:

Демон
А.С. Пушкин

В те дни, когда мне были новы
Все впечатленья бытия —
И взоры дев, и шум дубровы,
И ночью пенье соловья —
Когда возвышенные чувства,
Свобода, слава и любовь
И вдохновенные искусства
Так сильно волновали кровь, —
Часы надежд и наслаждений
Тоской внезапной осеня,
Тогда какой-то злобный гений
Стал тайно навещать меня.
Печальны были наши встречи:
Его улыбка, чудный взгляд,
Его язвительные речи
Вливали в душу хладный яд.
Неистощимой клеветою
Он провиденье искушал;
Он звал прекрасное мечтою;
Он вдохновенье презирал;
Не верил он любви, свободе;
На жизнь насмешливо глядел —
И ничего во всей природе
Благословить он не хотел.

Lermontov: The Angel (From Russian)

The Angel
By Mikhail Lermontov
Translated by A.Z. Foreman
Click to hear me recite the original Russian

Across the dark sky came the angel in flight
Who sang a soft song through the night.
And stars and the moon and the clouds in their throng
Gave ear to that glorious song.
He sang of immaculate spirits that rove
In bliss in the Heavenly Grove,
He sang of the Lord of All Things, every phrase

Unfeigned in that purest of praise.
He bore in his arms a young soul toward its birth,
To sorrow and tears on this earth.
And in that young soul the great sound of his song
Remained without words now, but strong.
And long did it languish on earth in its time
Replete with a yearning sublime,

A soul that knew sounds of the heavenly race
No dull song of earth could replace.

The Original:

Ангел
Михаил Лермонтов

По небу полуночи Ангел летел,
И тихую песню он пел.
И месяц, и звезды, и тучи толпой
Внимали той песне святой.
Он пел о блаженстве безгрешных духов
Под кущами райских садов,
О боге великом он пел, и хвала
Его непритворна была...
Он душу младую в объятиях нес
Для мира печали и слез,
И звук его песни в душе молодой
Остался, без слов, но живой...
И долго на свете томилась она,
Желанием чудным полна.
И звуков небес заменить не могли
Ей скучные песни земли...

Pushkin: Stanzas from Eugene Onegin (From Russian)

Below are translations of a few individual stanzas from from Pushkin's Eugene Onegin. I dream of someday creating a complete translation of the whole book, but I lack the time and sustained energy to do so. For now, I have the first handful of stanzas from Canto 1, plus some others parts that I had a mind to translate, too. As I translate more from Onegin, the stanzas in question will be added in their proper place on this page, and the page itself bumped back up to the most recent entry slot with a note below this paragraph as to what has been added. And of course if there's a particular passage from Onegin (or anything else for that matter) that you would especially like to see me translate, by all means please make a donation and request it.

Updates:
2/3/15: Added stanzas 8.I and 8.II, major revisions to 1.II and 1.VI.

Stanzas From Eugene Onegin
By Alexander Pushkin
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

1.I
"My uncle, man of true conviction...
By falling genuinely sick
He's won respect in his affliction
And could have planned no better trick.  
His model is worth replicating;
But Christ is it excruciating
To attend a patient night and day
And never move a step away!
And oh, what shameful machination
To humor one so nearly dead,
Fluff out the pillows for his head,
Morosely bring his medication
And think, with every practiced sigh,
'Get on with it already. Die!'"
«Мой дядя самых честных правил,
Когда не в шутку занемог,
Он уважать себя заставил
И лучше выдумать не мог.
Его пример другим наука;
Но, боже мой, какая скука
С больным сидеть и день и ночь,
Не отходя ни шагу прочь!
Какое низкое коварство
Полуживого забавлять,
Ему подушки поправлять,
Печально подносить лекарство,
Вздыхать и думать про себя:
Когда же черт возьмет тебя!»

1.II
Thus mused a rakehell in reflection    
Riding by post through dust and din.
He was, through natural selection
By Jove, sole heir to all his kin.
Friends of Ruslan from my last story*,
Let me spare you all prefatory
Delay, and introduce this new
Protagonist of mine to you:
Onegin, my good friend and brother,
Was born beside the Neva's** swell,
Where maybe, reader, you as well
Were born, or shone some way or other.
There I myself once played and strolled
Until I caught that northern cold***.
Так думал молодой повеса,
Летя в пыли на почтовых,
Всевышней волею Зевеса
Наследник всех своих родных.
Друзья Людмилы и Руслана!
С героем моего романа
Без предисловий, сей же час
Позвольте познакомить вас:
Онегин, добрый мой приятель,
Родился на брегах Невы,
Где, может быть, родились вы
Или блистали, мой читатель;
Там некогда гулял и я:
Но вреден север для меня.

Notes: *"Ruslan and Ludmila", a previous and wildly successful verse tale of Pushkin's
** Neva. i.e. along the Neva river, which is to say in St. Petersburg.
*** i.e. a reference to Pushkin's banishment

1.III

A noble man who'd served sincerely,
His father lived by borrowing,
He entertained with three balls yearly
And finally squandered everything.
Fate handled my Onegin gently
Madame first cared for him intently
Till someone else took on from her
The nice, if boisterous, boy: Monsieur      
L'Abbée, a feckless wretch from Paris
Taught the boy everything in jest,
Kept moral strictures slight at best
Lest he should bother or embarrass.
He'd punish pranks with one remark
And then a stroll in Summer Park*
Служив отлично благородно,
Долгами жил его отец,
Давал три бала ежегодно
И промотался наконец.
Судьба Евгения хранила:
Сперва Madame за ним ходила,
Потом Monsieur ее сменил.
Ребенок был резов, но мил.
Monsieur l’Abbé, француз убогой,
Чтоб не измучилось дитя,
Учил его всему шутя,
Не докучал моралью строгой,
Слегка за шалости бранил
И в Летний сад гулять водил.

* "Summer Park" - the Royal "Létny Sad" built near the imperial Palace.

1.IV

But when our young man reached the morrow    
Of adolescence and ado,
The time of hope and tender sorrow,
Monsieur was made to say Adieu.
Eugene's at large now. Taking care to
Display the latest voguish hairdo,
And dressed like a London Dandy, he
At last saw high society.
In French which he had quite perfected
He could express himself and write,
And when he danced, his step was light
His bow completely unaffected.
What's more to want? The verdict ran:
A witty, charming, gentle man.
Когда же юности мятежной
Пришла Евгению пора,
Пора надежд и грусти нежной,
Monsieur прогнали со двора.
Вот мой Онегин на свободе;
Острижен по последней моде,
Как dandy лондонский одет —
И наконец увидел свет.
Он по-французски совершенно
Мог изъясняться и писал;
Легко мазурку танцевал
И кланялся непринужденно;
Чего ж вам больше? Свет решил,
Что он умен и очень мил.

1. V

We've all received some education
In something, somehow, have we not?    
So thank the Lord that in our nation
Playing the thinker takes no thought.
Eugene was in the view of many
(Judges as strict and fair as any)
Learnèd, if prone to pedantry.
He had the happy ability
For free and easy conversation,
For handling any grave dispute
With an air of learning and astute
Silence in lieu of confrontation,
And lighting up a lady's gaze
With sudden fiery turns of phrase.
Мы все учились понемногу
Чему-нибудь и как-нибудь,
Так воспитаньем, слава богу,
У нас немудрено блеснуть.
Онегин был по мненью многих
(Судей решительных и строгих)
Ученый малый, но педант:
Имел он счастливый талант
Без принужденья в разговоре
Коснуться до всего слегка,
С ученым видом знатока
Хранить молчанье в важном споре
И возбуждать улыбку дам
Огнем нежданных эпиграмм.

1. VI

Latin's gone out of fashion for us.
But he had learned, be in no doubt,
Enough of the great tongue of Horace
To figure Latin phrases out,
Cite Juvenal from French translations,
Add "vale" in his salutations.
There was a line (on good days, two)
By Virgil that he nearly knew.
He had no scholar's predilection
To delve through diachronic dust
Of the world's histories caked with must.
There was, though, quite a large collection    
Of anecdotes he could recite
From Troy's destruction to last night.
Латынь из моды вышла ныне:
Так, если правду вам сказать,
Он знал довольно по-латыне,
Чтоб эпиграфы разбирать,
Потолковать об Ювенале,
В конце письма поставить vale1),
Да помнил, хоть не без греха,
Из Энеиды два стиха.
Он рыться не имел охоты
В хронологической пыли
Бытописания земли:
Но дней минувших анекдоты
От Ромула до наших дней
Хранил он в памяти своей.
.........
1.XLVI

He who has lived and thought can never  
Look on mankind without disgust,
He who has felt is plagued forever
By ghosts of days forever lost.
Gone are enchantment and affection.
In him the snake of recollection
And sick repentance eats the heart.
All this will oftentimes impart
A savory charm to conversations.
Though first unsettled and confused  
By Eugene's tongue, I did get used
To his abrasive disputations,
His blend of bile and comedy,
His somber, vicious repartee.
Кто жил и мыслил, тот не может
В душе не презирать людей;
Кто чувствовал, того тревожит
Призрак невозвратимых дней:
Тому уж нет очарований,
Того змия воспоминаний,
Того раскаянье грызет.
Все это часто придает
Большую прелесть разговору.
Сперва Онегина язык
Меня смущал; но я привык
К его язвительному спору,
И к шутке, с желчью пополам,
И злости мрачных эпиграмм.
..........
8.I

In those days when I bloomed serenely    
In Lycée gardens, long ago,
I'd read my Apuleius keenly
But ne'er a word of Cicero -
In those spring days, in secret dales
Where swans called out along the trails
By lakes in stilly air agleam,
The Muse first came to bid me dream.
My student cell filled with enchanted
And sudden light. The Muse spread there
A feast of youthful fancies fair.
She sang of childhood cheers, and chanted  
The glory of our lays of old,
The tremulous reveries hearts can hold.
В те дни, когда в садах Лицея
Я безмятежно расцветал,
Читал охотно Апулея,
А Цицерона не читал,
В те дни в таинственных долинах,
Весной, при кликах лебединых,
Близ вод, сиявших в тишине,
Являться муза стала мне.
Моя студенческая келья
Вдруг озарилась: муза в ней
Открыла пир младых затей,
Воспела детские веселья,
И славу нашей старины,
И сердца трепетные сны.

8.II

And with a smile my Muse was greeted.
What wings our first successes gave!
By Old Derzhávin we were heeded
And blessed before he reached the grave.....
И свет ее с улыбкой встретил;
Успех нас первый окрылил;
Старик Державин нас заметил
И в гроб сходя, благословил.
...........
8.XXIX

To love all ages must surrender.
But to young hearts its tumults bring
A gale as plentiful and tender
As tempests to the fields of spring
They freshen under passion's shower
Renew themselves, and come to flower,
As potent life takes fertile root
To bring rich blooms and yield sweet fruit.    
But when our age has left us older,
That barren turning of our years,
Dead passion's traces just bear tears-
So autumn stormwinds just blow colder,
Make swamps of meadows everywhere
And leave the forests stripped and bare.
Любви все возрасты покорны;
Но юным, девственным сердцам
Ее порывы благотворны,
Как бури вешние полям:
В дожде страстей они свежеют,
И обновляются, и зреют —
И жизнь могущая дает
И пышный цвет и сладкий плод.
Но в возраст поздний и бесплодный,
На повороте наших лет,
Печален страсти мертвой след:
Так бури осени холодной
В болото обращают луг
И обнажают лес вокруг.






Horace: Ode 1.9 To Thaliarchus in Winter (From Latin)

To Thaliarchus In Winter
By Horace
Translated by A.Z. Foreman
Click to hear me recite the original Latin

See how Soracte1 shines in the height of snowfall, 
See how the toiling forests can hardly bear 
 their cold loads, how the streams stand frozen,
  stilled with sharp ice in bewintering air.
Thaw off this cold. Throw logs on the hearth in warm 
welcome, and be more generous with the pure    
 wine drawn from that old Sabine2 cask,        
  dear Thaliarchus, good host and sure 
friend. Let the gods take care of the rest. Once they've 
brought all the winds that brawl on the boiling sea       
 to heel, then nothing shakes the ancient
  alder and beautiful cypress tree.
Ask not of what tomorrow will bring. Each day 
fortune allows you, count as a blessed gain. 
 Young man, enjoy the sweet delights of 
  loving and dancing. Do not abstain
while your green youth is free of old peevish gray.  
Now is the time for Campus3 and plaza too, 
 for nights of sighs and whispered nothings    
  when you and her keep a rendezvous,
Time for the lovely laugh from a secret corner 
giving away the girl where she hides at last, 
 for the love-bracelet from a hand whose
  fingers pretend to resist your grasp

Notes:

1- Mount Soracte, a mountain north of Rome and visible from the city streets.

2 - Sabine wine, originating in an area near Horace's own farm. Not an especially expensive vintage.

3 - "Campus" i.e. the Campus Martius or Field of Mars.


Original:

Vidēs ut altā stet nive candidum 
Sōracte, nec iam sustineant onus 
 silvae labōrantēs, gelūque
  flūmina cōnstiterint acūtō.
Dissolve frīgus, ligna super focō               
largē repōnēns atque benignius 
 dēprōme quadrīmum Sabīnā,
  ō Thaliarche, merum diōtā:
permitte dīvīs cētera, quī simul 
strāvēre ventōs aequore fervidō                       
 dēproeliantīs, nec cupressī
  nec veterēs agitantur ōrnī.
Quid sit futūrum crās fuge quaerere et 
quem Fōrs diērum cumque dabit lucrō 
 appōne, nec dulcīs amōrēs                          
  sperne puer neque tū chorēās,
dōnec virentī cānitiēs abest 
mōrōsa.  Nunc et campus et āreae 
 lēnēsque sub noctem susurrī
  compositā repetantur hōrā,          
nunc et latentis prōditor intumō 
grātus puellae rīsus ab angulō 
 pignusque dēreptum lacertīs
  aut digitō male pertinācī.

Catullus: Poem 34 "Promises, Promises" (From Latin)

Poem 34: Promises, Promises
By Catullus
Translated by A.Z. Foreman
Click to hear me recite the original Latin

My girl says there's no one she'd rather wed
    Than me. "Not even Jupiter"
Says she. The things a woman says in bed
    To please her lover are secure
As any contract scribbled out on air.  
Or you could find a sea, and write it there.  

The Original:

Nūllī sē dīcit mulier mea nūbere mālle 
 quam mihi, nōn sī sē Iuppiter ipse petat. 
Dīcit: sed mulier cupidō quod dīcit amantī, 
 in ventō et rapidā scrībere oportet aquā 

Ovid: The Night of Exile, Tristia 1.3 (From Latin)

In 8 AD, Ovid was exiled from Rome by Caesar Augustus for reasons that are not altogether clear. This poem is a (clearly immensely stylized) retelling of his final tear-sodden night in Rome before leaving for Tomis, in the yet unsettled Roman province of Moesia (modern-day Constanta, Romania) to which he had been exiled. There, in banishment, he would ultimately die, never seeing his wife or hometown again.

The Night of Exile, Tristia 1.3
By Ovid
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

When once again the mind is filled with shades      
   Of my final night in dear sweet Rome,
Recalling the night I gave up so much I cherished,   
   A tear even now begins to flow.

Dawn was at hand. By Caesar's fiat I had to   
   Depart for the frontier, come day.1
I'd found no time to prepare, nor inclination,   
   My will was lulled by long delays.
I had not bothered with slaves, or choice of attendants,   
   Nor clothes, nor the gear an exile needs,
Stunned as one struck by a bolt of Jove's own thunder   
   Who survives, unconscious that he still breathes.

But when sheer force of grief blew that fog off my spirit   
   And at last my stricken senses returned,
Before leaving, I had last words with the grieving few   
   Friends I still had of the many that were.
I wept in the arms of my wife who wept still harder.
   Tears streaked those cheeks that didn't deserve this.
My daughter, faraway in Africa couldn't   
   Be told what fate I would now endure.
Wherever I turned: more moaning, mourning. It seemed   
   A funeral with no moment of silence.
My wife, my son and slaves all grieved my passing.   
   Each nook had its tears. A house fell crying.
To gloss the small with the grand: Troy looked like this   
   When it fell that night in Aeneas' eyes.2

Now all was still. Not a stir of dog or man,   
   As Lady Moon rode her nightly way.
And in her beams I watched the Capitoline    
   So near my home, but near in vain,
And cried "High Powers who dwell in that citadel,   
   Temples I'll see no more with my eyes,
Gods of my Rome that I must now abandon,   
   Farewell now and for all of time!
Though I now take up the shield while already wounded   
   Yet lift hate's burden from this exile.
And tell that Godly Man3 what error snared me,   
   That he not think my failing a crime,
That my exile's architect feel all that you know.   
   With godhead appeased, no grief is mine."
Such was my prayer to the gods. My wife's were many,   
   Sobs choking her every word apart.
Disheveled she fell before our family shrine,   
   Pressed trembling lips to the cold dead hearth,
And poured great prayer to no avail for her husband.   
   For our household gods were no longer ours.
The fast-ebbing night left no time for further delay.   
   The Star-bear was wheeling round his axis.
What could I do? I'd held off for love of my country,   
   But this night had been decreed my last.
Oh the times I told my friends "Why hurry? Think   
   Where to, and where from you're rushing me!"
The times I lied to myself and others, swearing   
   I'd picked a proper hour to leave.
Thrice did I cross the threshold, thrice turned back,   
   The power of intention slowing my feet.
Often I'd say goodbye and go back to talking,   
   Then once again kiss all goodbye.
Often I'd give the same self-deluded instructions,   
   Then back to my loved ones turned my eyes.
At last I said "Why rush? It's Scythia4 I leave for,   
   And Rome I leave. Two reasons to stay.
I live, yet my living wife is denied me forever   
   With my sweet household, its loyal members,
And all the attendants I loved as would a brother,   
   Hearts bound to mine in a Thesean5 faith!
This may be my last chance to embrace them ever.   
   Best make the most of what remains."
Then I turned and left my words unfinished to hug   
   Each of my loved ones. No delay.

But as I spoke and we wept, the Star of Morrow   
   Had risen bright, but boding bane.
I was ripped asunder as if I'd lost a limb.   
   Something of me was torn away,
As Mettus6 when steeds avenging his betrayal   
   Were driven apart, and tore him in half.
My kinfolk then in a climax of clamorous weeping   
   Beat bare breasts with grieving hands.
And when at last I was leaving, my poor wife clasped me   
   With one last desperate, tear-drenched plea:
"They can't tear you away. Let us go together,   
   As exile and exile's wife. Take me!
Your journey is mine. There's room for me at an outpost.   
   I'll make small weight on your ship at sea,
You, exiled by Caesar's wrath, and I by loyal   
   Love. Let love be a Caesar to me."7
So she tried as she had tried before to convince me,   
   And yielded only to practical need.8 
I went a corpse without procession, in rags,   
   Hair strewn about my unshaven cheeks.

I'm told she fainted from grief, mind plunged in dark,   
   And fell half-dead right there in our house.
When she came round, with disheveled dust-fouled hair,   
   Staggering up from the cold hard ground,
She wept for herself, for a house abandoned, screaming   
   Her stolen man's name time after time,
Wailing as though she'd witnessed our daughter's body   
   Or mine, upon the high-stacked pyre;
And longed for death, to kill the horror and hardship,   
   Yet out of regard for me she lived.
Long may she live! And in life give aid to her absent   
   Love, whose exile the Fates have willed. 

Notes:

1 - The original Latin literally reads "depart from the farthest boundaries of Ausonia." Ausonia, originally a Greek term for a particular region in southern Italy, is a literary archaism used in Greek and Latin poetry to refer to all of Italy. (Compare English poetic use of "Hellas" for Greece, or "Cathay" for China.) For Ovid it would have had strong associations with the Aeneid, as it is frequently used there as a term for Italy as a storied "promised land" sought by the exiled Aeneas. Ovid in exile is using a term for Italy which implies distance and unattainability, as well as longing.

2 - This is the most overt, but not the only, indication in this poem that Ovid perceives his exile as a kind of reverse-Aeneid. Throughout the poem, there are a great many linguistic and thematic echoes, subtle and not, of Virgil. Though the precise instances need not all detain the Anglophone reader, it is worth noting that the entire poem borrows from the language and rhetorical toolkit of epic, including the disjointed narrative structure, to treat a deeply personal matter, which epics typically do not.

3 - "Godly Man" i.e. Caesar Augustus

4 - Ovid's exile was not actually in Scythia, but he uses the term in opposition to Rome because of its associations of barbarity, harshness, remoteness, and in short, everything Rome was not.

5 - Theseus' legendary love for his friend Pīrithous had become proverbial by this point. Theseus eventually lost his friend to the underworld, and despite all dedication was unable to rescue him. Ovid's companions cannot go with him into exile. The reference is simultaneously to the depth of attachment, and to how powerless that bond has ultimately proven.

6 - Mettus Fufetius, Alban leader torn to pieces by order of Tullius Hostilius as punishment for treachery. His body was tied to two different chariots which were driven in opposite directions.

7 -The term translated as "loyal love" is pietās. Pietās in Latin is one of those words (like Russian toská or Persian ɣayrat or Portuguese Saudade) which is both readily understood by the language's user and also quite difficult to translate. The closest English word approximation is probably "devotion." It is however devotion not only as a state of being, but as a moral virtue, encompassing ideas of duty, loyalty and selfless love, devotion to one's kin, one's deities, one's countrymen, or the Roman state, and to doing right by them.

8 - Practical need: i.e. she must stay behind to watch over his interests in Rome, and also attempt to help get Ovid's exile rescinded so that he might return. It never was. Ovid never saw his wife, children or hometown again.

Original:

Cum subit illīus trīstissima noctis imāgō   
      quā mihi suprēmum tempus in Urbe fuit,
cum repetō noctem quā tot mihi cāra relīquī,
      lābitur ex oculīs nunc quoque gutta meīs.

Iam prope lūx aderat quā mē discēdere Caesar
      fīnibus extrēmae iusserat Ausoniae.
Nec spatium nec mēns fuerat satis apta parandī:
      torpuerant longā pectora nostra morā.
Nōn mihi servōrum, comitis nōn cūra legendī,
      nōn aptae profugō vestis opisve fuit.
Nōn aliter stupuī quam quī Iovis ignibus īctus
      vīvit et est vītae nescius ipse suae.
Ut tamen hanc animī nūbem dolor ipse remōvit,
      et tandem sēnsūs convaluēre meī,
alloquor extrēmum maestōs abitūrus amīcōs
      quī modo dē multīs ūnus et alter erant.
Uxor amāns flentem flēns ācrius ipsa tenēbat,
      imbre per indignās usque cadente genās.
Nāta procul Libycīs aberat dīversa sub ōrīs,
      nec poterat fātī certior esse meī.
Quōcumque aspicerēs lūctūs gemitūsque sonābant,
      fōrmaque nōn tacitī fūneris intus erat.
Fēmina virque meō puerī quoque fūnere maerent,
      inque domō lacrimās angulus omnis habet.
Sī licet exemplīs in parvīs grandibus ūtī,
      haec faciēs Troiae cum caperētur erat.

Iamque quiēscēbant vōcēs hominumque canumque, 
      Lūnaque nocturnōs alta regēbat equōs.
Hanc ego suspiciēns et ab hāc Capitōlia cernēns,
      quae nostrō frūstrā iūncta fuēre Larī,
"Nūmina vīcīnīs habitantia sēdibus," inquam,
      "iamque oculīs numquam templa videnda meīs,
dīque relinquendī, quōs urbs habet alta Quirīnī,
      este salūtātī tempus in omne mihi.
Et quamquam sērō clipeum post vulnera sūmō,
      attamen hanc odiīs exonerāte fugam:
caelestīque virō, quis mē dēcēperit error,
      dīcite, prō culpā nē scelus esse putet.
Ut quod vōs scītis, poenae quoque sentiat auctor:
      plācātō possum nōn miser esse deō."

Hāc prece adōrāvī superōs ego, plūribus uxor,
      singultū mediōs impediente sonōs.
Illa etiam ante Larēs passīs adstrāta capillīs
      contigit extīnctōs ōre tremente focōs,
multaque in adversōs effūdit verba Penātēs
      prō dēplōrātō nōn valitūra virō.
Iamque morae spatium nox praecipitāta negābat,
      versaque ab axe suō Parrhasis Arctos erat.
Quid facerem? Blandō patriae retinēbar amōre,
      ultima sed iussae nox erat illa fugae.
Ā! Quotiēns aliquō dīxī properante "quid urgēs?
      vel quō fēstīnās īre, vel unde, vidē."
Ā! Quotiēns certam mē sum mentītus habēre
      hōram, prōpositae quae foret apta viae.
Ter līmen tetigī, ter sum revocātus, et ipse
     indulgēns animō pēs mihi tardus erat.
Saepe "valē" dictō rūrsus sum multa locūtus,
      et quasi discēdēns ōscula summa dedī,
saepe eadem mandāta dedī mēque ipse fefellī,
      respiciēns oculīs pignora cāra meīs.

Dēnique "quid properō? Scythia est, quō mittimur," inquam,
      "Rōma relinquenda est, utraque iūsta mora est.
Uxor in aeternum vīvō mihi vīva negātur,
      et domus et fīdae dulcia membra domūs,
quōsque ego dīlēxī frāternō mōre sodālēs,
      ō mihi Thēsēā pectora iūncta fidē!
dum licet, amplectar: numquam fortasse licēbit
      amplius. In lūcrō est quae datur hōra mihi."
Nec mora. Sermōnis verba imperfecta relinquō,
      complectēns animō proxima quaeque meō.

Dum loquor et flēmus, caelō nitidissimus altō,
      stēlla gravis nōbīs, Lūcifer ortus erat.
Dīvidor haud aliter, quam sī mea membra relinquam,
      et pars abrumpī corpore vīsa suō est.
Sīc doluit Mettus tunc cum in contrāria versōs
      ultōrēs habuit prōditiōnis equōs.
Tum vērō exoritur clāmor gemitūsque meōrum,
      et feriunt maestae pectora nūda manūs.
Tum vērō coniūnx umerīs abeuntis inhaerēns
      miscuit haec lacrimīs tristia verba meīs:
"nōn potes āvellī. Simul hinc, simul ībimus:" inquit,
      "tē sequar et coniūnx exulis exul erō.
Et mihi facta via est, et mē capit ultima tellūs:
      accēdam profugae sarcina parva ratī.
Tē iubet ē patriā discēdere Caesaris īra,
      mē pietās. Pietās haec mihi Caesar erit."
Tālia temptābat, sīcut temptāverat ante,
      vixque dedit victās ūtilitāte manūs.
Ēgredior, sīve illud erat sine fūnere ferrī,
      squālidus immissīs hirta per ōra comīs.

Illa dolōre āmēns tenebrīs nārrātur obortīs
      sēmjanimis mediā prōcubuisse domō,
utque resurrēxit foedātis pulvere turpī
      crīnibus et gelidā membra levāvit humō,
sē modo, dēsertōs modo complōrāsse Penātēs,
      nōmen et ēreptī saepe vocāsse virī,
nec gemuisse minus, quam sī nātaeve meumve
      vīdisset strūctōs corpus habēre, rogōs,
et voluisse morī, moriendō pōnere sēnsus,
      respectūque tamen nōn periisse meī.
Vīvat, et absentem, quoniam sīc fāta tulērunt,
      vīvat et auxiliō sublevet usque suō.

The Archpoet: Confession in Pavia (From Latin)

Okay, this introduction's a long one. 

The poem here translated (which is better called a "Confession in Pavia" than the "Confession of Golias") is by the Archpoet, an irreverent, blasphemously avant-garde and brilliant 12th century German(ic) cleric, ten of whose poems survived in the Carmina Burana. For my money, he is the closest medieval Europe has to the antinomian aesthetic of Persian poets like Hafiz, though the two are in many ways extremely unalike. (Actually, one could write a very interesting article comparing Hafiz to the Archpoet. The many striking similarities are every bit as illuminating as the differences.)

We do not know the fellow's name. He's just the Archipoeta, or Archpoet. Which really is quite fitting. Despite the anonymity, we can confidently deduce a good deal about him. His poems offer crucial information (although that doesn't mean they should be read literally as most readers for the past hundred years have done- this is a court poet and a chancery clerk, after all, not a starving artist errant.) Moreover, due to his high station and the clerical circles he moved in, the Archpoet was associated with a number of extremely well-known people whose lives are well documented, most especially his patron Rainald of Dassel, chancellor of Emperor Barbarossa.

A subset of stanzas from this poem have been used as a drinking song for over a century, titled Meum Est Propositum. But this poem is so much more than simply the greatest drinking song of all time. It is courtly literature, and mirthful commentary, of the highest caliber, written by an anti-establishmentarian chancery cleric who was court poet to the equally antinomian Rainald of Dassel, under whose patronage all the Archpoet's extant verse was composed. Rainald himself was no stranger to holy orders (indeed he is the "Prelate" and "Archbishop Elect" of the text here translated) though he was little interested in religious duties as such so much as the power that came with them, and had little patience or heed for clerical moralizing. Rainald was, in fact, an outrageous man in nearly every sense. He was a reactionary of the sort who might tell both the monkish austerity-peddler and the Vatican dignitary, face to face, to go fuck themselves. He was a dirty-fighting politician, more imperialist than the holy Roman Emperor, and almost as un-Catholic as the Pope. Indeed, he had recently been excommunicated by the time this poem was composed (which adds an important dimension to the irony.) Yet he was not only the most controversial but also one of the most sophisticated and learned intellectual patrons in Latin Christendom in his day. 

The Archpoet in this poem as ever plays on biblical and patristic themes and language, in a way that is meant as much to be stimulating and amusing to his patron Rainald as shocking and unsettling to other clerics who must have been in attendance when this poem was declaimed in Pavia. To me, the Archpoet seems to be taking Matthew 11:9 as a basic theme (venit Filius hominis manducans et bibens et dicunt ecce homo vorax et potator vini publicanorum et peccatorum amicus et iustificata est sapientia a filiis suis "The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children.")  There is a sense in which much of the poem consists of variations on this verse. The poet though takes this passage's implication far beyond the bounds of what would have been acceptable, positioning himself as a drinker and friend of sinners and applying to himself the same labels that were leveled against Jesus by his enemies. But the Germanic Archpoet isn't merely using value-inversion to shock the establishmentarian Italian clerics in Pavia who look upon him and his patron as being culturally backward. He's out to expose their austerity as hypocrisy. To this end he builds the piece into an ever more overt fictio (feigned repentance) directed toward a recently excommunicated prelate (namely his friend and patron Rainald) who would have been barred from the actual sacrament of confession, a subversive declaration meant to satirize the normally quite serious genre of penitential writing, and the equally serious tradition of public confession. 

Make no mistake. Tempting and even productive though it is, and has been, for later readers (especially singers) to imagine otherwise, this poem is the product of medieval Latin high clerical culture, and is produced by and for members of a clerical elite steeped in ecclesiastical latinity. Claims that the Archpoet must not have been a cleric at all are based on anachronistic and mistaken assumptions. Irreligious, and even somewhat anti-religious, this poem certainly is. What it is not, however, is popular, less so still secular (and even less does it deserve to be called a "basically pagan poem.") The Archpoet shows no signs of actual anti-clericalism. There were actual anti-clericalists in his day, and he wasn't one of them. Nor does he ever hint at the idea of actually forsaking his order. It is Rome and its orthodox moralizing he repudiates, not the institution itself. The Archpoet also is quite disdainful of the masses, and it is unlikely he would have written for the man in the street. Had he wished to do so, he could have done as some of his contemporaries did and used a vernacular. In any case, the Archpoet's own stance is made clear when he says elsewhere laici non sapiunt ea quae sunt vatis "laymen do not fathom the poet's trade." 


For all the exaltation of taverns, markets and other such riffrafferies, including a hint of brothels, these are celebrated precisely because, and only to the extent that, they shock and annoy the moralist. They should not be taken as indications that the Archpoet in his life necessarily patronized taverns and whorehouses. That said, I personally find it hard to swallow that a man of irreverence at the margins of the moral establishment, who was good friends with a man like Rainald of Dassel, lived a life of complete teetotaling virginity. Just as this poem should not be taken to represent the truth transparently (for in fact it makes feigning into an art-form), neither should one assume that it bears no relationship to the truth. No act of lying or feigning is totally unrelated to the truth. What's really going on, then? I don't really know. I doubt anyone does. The question of what is true and what is false is one that the Archpoet leaves no easy answers to, which is precisely his intent, and his point. 

As for how to translate such a poem, I found it no straightforward matter. One has to square oneself, first and foremost, with the fact that English is a vernacular, and Latin - though it was not only read and written but also spoken by the 12th century clerisy - is not. What English does have is a great potential range of registers from the poetical and biblical to the obscenities you utter when you stub your toe at 2 AM after waking up to answer a phonecall that turned out to be a wrong number. In translating this poem, I have used this entire range of registers, for which there is no warrant in the original Latin beyond the ambiguous and playful spirit in which it was written. This spirit, moreover, is what made me feel at liberty to up (or update) the outrageousness by a notch or two. 

Note on the Latin text: Those who know Latin should also note that there is in the text some wordplay which will not be obvious to modern reader due to differences of pronunciation. In most German pronunciations of Latin by the end of the eleventh century, V had been devoiced and was normally pronounced identically to F, at least word-initially (the contrast was later reintroduced during the Renaissance.) To my knowledge, none of the many scholars who have written about the Archpoet, or this most famous of his compositions, have noted the amusing fact that Venus, mentioned twice in this poem, would have been phonologically indistinguishable from Faenus "profit, advantage, financial gain." Likewise, vina proxima (wine nearby) contains an echo of finis proximus ("end is nigh", in reference to death, but also recalling apocalyptic phrasing from e.g. St. Augustine's De Fine Saeculi.) The poem is spangled with allusions to biblical and other religious texts, and classical ones, as well as ideas drawn from them. Explicating all of them didn't seem like it would really be worth it. I've mentioned a couple in the notes, but in most cases I've simply noted the passages in question in superscript on the Latin text for anyone who's interested in digging deeper. 


Confession in Pavia

By the Archpoet (12th Century)
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

Seething in my very gut with a violent anger,
I would have words with my heart in remorseful rancor.
Being mostly made of light, insubstantial matter,
I am like a little leaf any breeze can batter.

Since the mark of a wise man is to seek one's station
And to build on rock the firm base of his foundation,
I am verily a fool, gliding like a river 
That can't be the same thing twice, deviant forever.

Like a ship without a crew drifting with the weather,
Like a bird on airy ways roaming God knows whither.
I break free of lock and chain, and I dodge the watchers,
Join a troop of men like me: drunkards and debauchers.

Weighty matters weigh me down, and aren't even funny.
Making light is what I love, sweeter far than honey.
Every order Venus gives means delightful labor.
For she never grants a weak, craven heart her favor.

Broad the primrose path I tread, as is young men's fashion.
Virtue my anathema, vices are my passion.
Questing more for pleasure than heavenly salvation,
Dead in soul, I give my flesh great consideration.

It is beyond hard to tame Nature with mere credo,
To behold fair maids and think thoughts pure of libido.
We are young and cannot heed such harsh regulation,
Smooth young bodies cannot but fire our fascination.

To Your Grace do I confess. Grant me sin's remission.
I am dying the good death. It's a sweet perdition.
Pretty women pierce my breast, pulsing with temptation.
Those I can't have I still do in imagination.

Who escapes unburned when cast into conflagration?
Who stays in Pavia free of all fornication?
Callipygian Venus here hunts young men in leisure,
Lures them with her blowjob lips, takes them for her pleasure.

Put a chaste Hippolytusin this town on Sunday.
Chaste Hippolytus is not what he'll be by Monday.
Here all roads lead not to Rome, but to Venus' penthouse.
Alethia's2  home is no palace so portentous.

I'm accused of gambling too, told I'd best forsake it. 

Say a night of dice leaves me in the street stripped naked.
Though I'm freezing outwardly, mentally I'm sweating
In the smithy of my art, better verse begetting.  

Sinful item number three is the pub. I've never
Spurned a pub in all my years, and nor will I ever
Till the holy hosts descend and my eyes discern 'em
Singing for the dead their long "Requiem Eternam."3 

To die in a pub while drunk is my resolution
Where the wine can ease me through my last dissolution.
Then shall herald angels sing in a choir of glory:
"Deus sit propitius huic potatori."4    (Or: "Son of God have mercy on this dead drunk before Thee") 

Chalices light my soul's lamp. Spirit I am given,
And my nectar-drunken heart rises up toward heaven.
Sweeter to me is the wine that in pubs I order
Than the stuff that's watered down by our Prelate's porter.

There are poets who disdain vulgar public places,
Who run off to secret, dark, private writing spaces,
Strive in studious toil all night, without even eating,
But can't manage to produce anything worth reading.

In teetotal choruses fasting poets hustle
To avoid the brawl of pubs and the markets' bustle,
Struggle to compose one piece that can live forever,
And, not having lived themselves, die from the endeavor.

Lady Nature gives to each his own special labor.
Till my belly's full I can't put my pen to paper,
And a boy could knock me down without even trying.
Thirst and hunger I despise little less than dying.

Lady Nature gives to each his unique advantage.5 
When I write my verse I drink wine of decent vintage,
Though the innkeeper's own stash is the most amazing.
Wine like that will generate gallons of gold phrasing.

I write verse proportionate to the wine I swallow.
I can't do a thing at all, when my belly's hollow. 
When I keep the fast I am the worst poetaster.
But give me a glass or three, and I'm Ovid's master. 

No I've never been bequeathed holy inspiration,
When my belly wasn't first filled to satiation.
While my mental citadel is in Bacchus' power,
In Apollo bursts to speak wonders every hour.

Your Grace, I've exposed my own wanton inclinations
And have shown the truth of your servants' accusations.
But will they accuse themselves with their own confessions?
For they too take pleasure in worldly indiscretions.

Right here, in the presence of our most blessèd Prelate
Following the Son of God, I say let the zealot
Who would like to strike and kill this prophetic poet,
If his own soul hath no sin, get some stones and show it!

I've confessed to all I know that I've perpetrated,
Spewed out all the poison that I long cultivated.
My old life disgusts me now, let new virtue guide me.
Men see me, but Jove6 alone sees the heart inside me.

Now it's virtues I adore, as I abhor vices. 
My mind is renewed and my reborn spirit rises,
Like unto a newborn babe7, innocently nursing,
Lest my heart again grow filled with pride and perversion. 

Archbishop Elect8 of Köln, behold my contrition
And be merciful to one seeking sins' remission. 
Give a fitting penance for what I've been confessing.
I will do as you command, and call it a blessing. 

Even the lion, king of beasts, when his subjects cower
Spares them and forgets his wrath, chastening his power.
You great princes of this world can do even better,
For that which is never sweet is exceeding bitter.


Notes:

1 - Hippolytus, a classical model of male chastity who, in the Euripidean drama which bears his name, is devoted to the virgin goddess Artemis.

2 - Alethia, the personification of truth and virtue, neither of which are to be found in Pavia as the Archpoet would have it. Instead, there is falsity masquerading as truth and depravity in virtue's clothing. It is also possible that Alethia is a textual corruption of Aricia. Aricia was Hippolytus' wife when he came to earth a second time in Aeneid VII.661

3 - The phrase comes from the opening to the Mass of the Dead.

4 - This stanza is quite a famous one. The Archpoet's audience would know that publican's imprecation from the Gospel of Luke,  Deus propitius esto mihi peccatori, "Lord have mercy upon me, a sinner", was usually repeated by Catholic penitents during confession (Orthodox Christians will recognize the same general wording in the Jesus Prayer.) They would have known, too, that the formula meum est propositum "I am resolved to..." was normally followed by a list of sins the penitent would avoid. The Archpoet replaces peccator "sinner" with potator "drinker, lush" to an effect that is quite hilarious and quite impossible to carry into English satisfactorily. So here I have imported the Latin line wholesale, which seemed in keeping with the aesthetic I wanted. But I also included an alternate English translation that can also be recited in its place.

5 - The phrasing is based on 1 Corinthians 7:7. For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that. The Archpoet is substituting the (feminine) Nature for the (masculine) God, setting the former up as a counter to the latter.

6 - Jove (Iovis, a late latin nominative singular remodeled on the Latin -i stem) is in Medieval Latin often used interchangeably with God (Deus.) Here, however, the pagan associations of the word are clearly also to the point. It has been suggested that the use of Jove is simply for rhyme, and that the Christian God alone is the referent. Leaving aside the fact that this tremendously underrates and ignores the Archpoet's ability for subversive polysemy, if anything the words' use as a rhyme-word simply renders it all the more prominent. A passage of scripture is here paraphrased from 1 Samuel 16:7 for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.

7- "Like unto a newborn babe" (Latin: Quasi modo genitus) the opening words of the mass for the first Sunday after Easter, when all infants born during Lent are traditionally baptized. The Hunchback of Notre Dame, incidentally, gets his name from this phrase.

8 - The Archpoet calls Rainald the "Archbishop Elect" here hinting jokingly at his patron's recent  excommunication. Rainald had, from Rome's point of view, ceased to be a true archbishop once he had been formally separated from the Church's communion, and thus his technical episcopal status is questionable. Which doesn't stop the Archpoet from treating him, in hilarious jest, as a legitimate confessor.

The Original: 

Confessio Papiensis
Archipoeta

Aestuans intrinsecus ira vehementi
in amaritudine loquor meae menti.(Job 10:1)
factus de materia levis elementi
folio sum similis, de quo ludunt venti.(Job 13:25)

Cum sit enim proprium viro sapienti,
supra petram ponere sedem fundamenti,(Luke 6:48)
stultus ego comparor fluvio labenti,
sub eodem aere numquam permanenti.

Feror ego veluti sine nauta navis,
ut per vias aeris vaga fertur avis;(Wisdom 5:10-11)
non me tenent vincula, non me tenet clavis,
quaero mei similes et adiungor pravis.

Mihi cordis gravitas res videtur gravis,
iocus est amabilis dulciorque favis.
quidquid Venus imperat, labor est suavis,
quae numquam in cordibus habitat ignavis.(Tibullus 1.2.23)

Via lata gradior more iuventutis,(Matthew 7:13)
implico me vitiis immemor virtutis,
voluptatis avidus magis quam salutis,
mortuus in anima curam gero cutis.(St. Augustine, De Civitate Dei XIII.21.30)

Praesul discretissime, veniam te precor,
morte bona morior, dulci nece necor,
meum pectus sauciat puellarum decor,
et quas tactu nequeo, saltem corde moechor.(Matthew 5:28)

Res est arduissima vincere naturam,
in aspectu virginis mentem esse puram;
iuvenes non possumus legem sequi duram
leviumque corporum non habere curam.

Quis in igne positus igne non uratur?
quis Papiae demorans castus habeatur,
ubi Venus digito iuvenes venatur,
oculis illaqueat, facie praedatur?

Si ponas Hippolytum hodie Papiae,
non erit Hippolytus in sequenti die.
Veneris in thalamos ducunt omnes viae,
non est in tot turribus turris Alethiae.

Secundo redarguor etiam de ludo,
sed cum ludus corpore me dimittit nudo,
frigidus exterius, mentis aestu sudo;
tunc versus et carmina meliora cudo.

Tertio capitulo memoro tabernam:
illam nullo tempore sprevi neque spernam,
donec sanctos angelos venientes cernam,
cantantes pro mortuis: «Requiem Aeternam.»

Meum est propositum in taberna mori,
ut sint vina proxima morientis ori;
tunc cantabunt laetius angelorum chori:
«Sit Deus propitius huic potatori.» (Luke 18:13, see also Ovid, Amores 2.10.29-38)

Poculis accenditur animi lucerna,
cor imbutum nectare volat ad superna.
mihi sapit dulcius vinum de taberna,
quam quod aqua miscuit praesulis pincerna.

Loca vitant publica quidam poetarum
et secretas eligunt sedes latebrarum,
student, instant, vigilant nec laborant parum,
et vix tandem reddere possunt opus clarum.

Ieiunant et abstinent poetarum chori,
vitant rixas publicas et tumultus fori,
et ut opus faciant, quod non possit mori,
moriuntur studio subditi labori.

Unicuique proprium dat Natura munus:(1 Corinthians 7:7)
ego numquam potui scribere ieiunus,(Martial 11.6.12-13)
me ieiunum vincere posset puer unus.
sitim et ieiunium odi tamquam funus.

Unicuique proprium dat Natura donum:
ego versus faciens bibo vinum bonum,
et quod habent purius dolia cauponum;
vinum tale generat copiam sermonum.

Tales versus facio, quale vinum bibo,
nihil possum facere nisi sumpto cibo;
nihil valent penitus, que ieiunus scribo,
Nasonem post calices carmine praeibo.

Mihi numquam spiritus prophetiae datur,
nisi prius fuerit venter bene satur;
dum in arce cerebri Bacchus dominatur,
in me Phoebus irruit et miranda fatur.

Ecce meae proditor pravitatis fui,
de qua me redarguunt servientes tui.
sed corum nullus est accusator sui,
quamvis velint ludere saeculoque frui.

Iam nunc in praesentia praesulis beati
secundum dominici regulam mandati
mittat in me lapidem neque parcat vati,
cuius non est animus conscius peccati.

Sum locutus contra me, quidquid de me novi,
et virus evomui, quod tam diu fovi.
vita vetus displicet, mores placent novi;
homo videt faciem, sed cor patet Iovi.(1 Samuel 16:7)

Iam virtutes diligo, vitiis irascor,
renovatus animo spiritu renascor;
quasi modo genitus novo lacte pascor,(1 Peter 2:2)
ne sit meum amplius vanitatis vas cor.

Electe Coloniae, parce paenitenti,
fac misericordiam veniam petenti,
et da paenitentiam culpam confitenti;
feram, quidquid iusseris, animo libenti.

Parcit enim subditis leo, rex ferarum,
et est erga subditos immemor irarum;
et vos idem facite, principes terrarum:
quod caret dulcedine, nimis est amarum.

Papiria Tertia: On Her Own Grave (From Latin)

Yet another poem found on a Roman tomb epitaph, this one, dating to the early imperial period, is from Ferrara in north-west Italy, by one Papiria Tertia. Presumably she and her husband reserved tombs for themselves in the same place where they buried their children. There is a limit to what can be reasonably inferred about somebody from remains so meager as a tomb and four lines of hexameter, but there are a few things. Papiria must have been not only extremely wealthy, judging by the description I have read of the tomb where this was found, but also extremely well-educated. Moreover, though this is all that may have survived of her work, it is highly unlikely that this is all she ever wrote. There is much ancient testimony to the effect that, for high-born Roman women in the classical period, the ability to compose verse was seen as very much a desirable trait (even if their verse wasn't usually taken as seriously as men's) quite unlike many more recent European societies. The paucity of surviving women's verse from pre-Christian Rome has more to do with Christian scribes not copying it in late antiquity than with women not producing it. (Only one woman's poetry survives in a manuscript tradition, having been mistaken in the Middle Ages for that of a man. Every other surviving bit of verse written by Roman women has been found, like this one, on inscriptions in stone.)

On Her Own Grave
By Papiria Tertia
Translated by Yours Truly
Click to hear me recite the original Latin

Dear passing stranger: see that I, a woman 
Bereft oall her children, had tombs built. 
Pathetic, sorrowful and far too old,
I want to be with my little ones again.
The lesson of my desolate long life: 
Sterility's a blessing for a wife

The Original:

Cernis, ut orba meīs, hospes, monumenta locāvī
et trīstis senior nātōs miseranda requīrō.
Exemplīs referenda mea est dēserta senectūs
ut sterilēs vērē possint gaudēre marītae.

Paulus Silentiarius: Epigramma Interruptum (From Greek)

The tropes of epitaphic verse had apparently become so commonplace as a genre by the 6th century, that, like all clichés, they eventually invited the wit of the parodist.  

Epigramma Interruptum
By Paulus Silentiarius
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

My name is...(do we care?) And my birthplace
Was....(seriously, who cares at all?) I come
From noble lineage that I can trace
To great...(and what if all of them were scum?)
I ended life in good repute (would we
Care if you quit this world in infamy?)
And now in death I lie beneath this tomb
(Wait...who is speaking, really? And to whom?)

The Original:

Ἐπίγραμμα
Παῦλος ὁ Σιλεντιάριος

᾽Οὔνομά μοι … «Τί δὲ τοῦτο;» Πατρίς δὲ μοι … «Ἐς τί δὲ τοῦτο;»
Κλεινοῦ δ’ εἰμὶ γένους. «Εἰ γὰρ ἀφαυροτάτου;»
Ζήσας δ’ ἐνδόξως ἔλιπον βίον. «Εἰ γὰρ ἀδόξως;»
Κεῖμαι δ’ ἐνθάδε νῦν. «Τίς τίνι ταῦτα λέγεις;»

Marcus Antonius Encolpus: Caerellia's Epitaph (From Greek)

Skepticism about the afterlife is not recent. Even in societies of millennia past that might strike us as being immensely superstitious, there were often many who didn't buy into the local mythology about death, or at least didn't take it very seriously. It is indeed a well-attested (if not widely-known) fact that there were plenty of unbelievers and skeptics in ancient Greece and Rome, at all periods. After about the 1st century BC, the Roman intellectual élite had come to the understanding that the traditional ideas of an afterlife were, at the very least, flawed and that if the soul survived the death of the body at all it wasn't in Hades. Outright ridicule of belief in the afterlife was commonplace in the empire among the elite, although among lower social strata this was less the case. One example of what may be elite skepticism, or an affectation of it, is the Greek epitaph inscribed by one Marcus Antonius Encolpus on the grave of his wife Caerellia Fortunata (CIL vi.14672) dating to sometime in the early 3rd century AD, and which I translate here.

While the message of this epitaph might on the face of it strike readers today as pessimistic or depressing, note that Charon the ferryman, like Cerberus the hell-hound, was a frightening, unpleasant figure in popular imagination, especially at this time (as Lucian's works show.) Charon wasn't someone waiting to welcome you. He was someone you dreaded having to deal with when you die. In this light, that Charon, Cerberus and Aeacus do not exist may be taken as a source of comfort. It's worth noting that archaeologists find coins placed in graves as offerings to Charon with increasing frequency during the late 2nd and early 3rd centuries, suggesting that popular superstition and fear surrounding him were nonetheless widespread, despite the pervasive skepticism toward the top of the social ladder.

The sentiment of the final line is not unique, as attested in a number of Roman grave inscriptions (e.g. nil mihi post finest nil volo nil cupio "there is nothing of me after my end. I want nothing. I desire nothing." Or non fui, fui, non sum, non curo "I didn't exist. Then I did. Now I don't. I don't care.") Not only are there many other attested expressions of doubt, about the afterlife and the efficacy of ritual offerings, going back several centuries previous, but part of the elegiac passage in this epitaph very strongly recalls part of Lucian's De Luctu where a young boy in Hades mocks his father, with great cruelty, for mourning his death with offerings.
τί δὲ ὁ ὑπὲρ τοῦ τάϕου λίθος ἐστεϕανωμένος; ἤ τί ὑμῖν δύναται τὸν ἄϰρατον ἐπιχεῖν; ἤ νομίζετε ϰαταστάξειν αὐτὸν πρὸς ἡμᾶς ϰαὶ μέχρι τοῦ Ἅιδου διίξεσθαι; τὰ μὲν γὰρ ἐπὶ τῶν ϰαθαγισμῶν ϰαὶ αὐτοὶ ὁρᾶτε, οἶμαι, ὡς τὸ μὲν νοστιμώτατον τῶν παρεσϰευασμένων ὁ ϰαπνὸς παραλαβὼν ἄνω εἰς τὸν οὐρανὸν οἴχεται μηδέν τι ἡμᾶς ὀνήσας τοὺς ϰάτω, τὸ δὲ ϰαταλειπόμενον, ἡ ϰόνις, ἀχρεῖον, ἐϰτὸς εἰ μὴ τὴν σποδὸν ἡμᾶς σιτεῖσθαι πεπιστεύϰατε.
(But what good to me) is the garlanded stone above my grave? What's the point in libations of pure wine? Do you imagine it will somehow trickle down to where we are, reach all the way to the Netherworld? As for burnt offerings, I think you yourselves can gather that the greater part of the food's nutrients is born up to the heavens by the smoke, and doesn't do a whit of good for those of us in the world below, and the ash that remains is useless, too. Unless of course you think we can eat dust. 

The lack of belief in the afterlife evinced in the Greek verse epitaph(s) may be compared quite profitably with the Latin prose inscription, in which great pains are taken to see that the tomb not be desecrated by the visitation of someone who has fallen out of favor with the family patriarch, as well as to reward someone who did him a good turn with a place in it. The conjunction of dismissal of the world below and profound concern for the grave and the loved ones interred therein, is an almost unbelievably perfect illustration both of imperial Greco-Roman culture's free-wheeling approach to religious belief and of Romans' profound concern, bordering on obsession, with proper ritual practice, and of how little contradiction there necessarily was between the two. Funeral practice could often be more about remembering the dead for the life they lived, rather than anything to do with a life to come.

Attributing authorship is somewhat difficult, as is often the case with funeral epigraphy. The dedication preceding the epitaph on the stone in Latin is clearly Encolpus'. It is generally well-spelled and competently phrased (using such context-bound locutions as libertis libertabusque) with only mildly subliterary features in the non-formulaic portions. (Tam magna in the sense of tanta without complement, one confusion of "b" and "v", nasal assimilation in amnegauerit, use of opter for propter.) There is an additional inscription in Latin (not translated here) which comes after the Greek verses, and must have been appended later, very likely by somebody less literate. Apart from being much less coherent, it is far more subliterary (there is a likely conflation of nominative and accusative with iubeo, and the spelling deueuet for standard dēbēbit even though the correct spelling appears in the earlier part of the inscription.) The first 8 lines of verse are in Greek iambics and give the impression of being a complete poem on their own. (It makes them a much stronger and more sensical poem if they are read thus, in any case.) The 6 subsequent lines, in elegiac meter, with their dry irreverent take on traditional funeral offerings, may be a later addition. They are extremely different in tone. Four of those lines also appear as an anonymous epigram in the palatine anthology, though the last two lines are attested only in this inscription. This raises a possibility that both of these pieces in their entirety are not original but actually taken from elsewhere. Nonetheless I have, because "anonymous" really didn't seem suitable, listed Marcus Antonius Encolpus as the "author". I have also not regularized the spelling in the Latin, as is my general practice, but have inserted a few emendations in parentheses.

The text was taken from (and, as a matter of fact, originally found by chance in) the Packard Humanities Institute's wonderful Greek epigraphy database, available online here.

Caerellia's Epitaph (CIL VI 14672)
By Marcus Antonius Encolpus
Translated by A.Z. Foreman
For my departed and dearest wife Caerellia Fortunata with whom I lived for 40 tranquil years, and for myself, I Marcus Antonius Encolpus made this tomb, and for my dearest freed slave Antonius Athenaeus, for my freedmen and freedwomen and all of their issue, with the exception of Marcus Antonius Athenio. Him I forbid access or any entry to this tomb, or to have his remains' or those of his descendants'  brought here for burial. If any should transgress in this, he that has done so must pay the priests or the tutors of the Vestal Virgins a sum of 50,000 sestertii, because after many other injuries against my person, he denied me as a parent to him. It is also for Aulus Laelius Apelles my dearest client, who may choose for himself whichever sarcophagus he wishes, as he stood by me in such a catastrophe, and whose good favor I enjoy. 
Do not pass by my epitaph, dear passer-by. 
Stop. Read and learn, and when you understand, go on: 
There is no Charon waiting on a boat in Hades. 
No judge named Aeacus, no dog called Cerberus. 
All of us who've gone dead down here are now no more 
Than rotting bone and ash. I've told it as it is 
And have no more to say. Now, passer-by, go on 
And know I keep the rule of dead men: tell no tales.  

      This tomb's just stone. So bring no myrrh or garlands,

           And don't waste money on a fire,
      If you want to give me something, you really should have 
           Done it when I was still alive.
      If you mix fine wine with ash you just get mud.
          Besides, the dead do not drink wine.
      Just sprinkle some soil, and say: what I was before
           I was, I have become once more.

The Original:
D(is) Cerelliae Fortunatae coniugi karissimae cum qua M(anibus) v. ann. XL s.u.q. M. Antonius Encolpus fecit sibi et Antonio Athenaeo liberto suo karissimo et libertis libertabusque eorum et posteris, excepto M. Antonio Athenione quem ueto in eo monimento aditum habere, neque iter ambitum introitum ullum in eo habere, neque sepulturae causa reliquias eius posterorumque eius inferri, quod si quis aduersus hoc quis fecerit, tunc is qui fecerit poenae nomine pontificibus aut antescolaris uirginum s. L m.n. inferre debebit, ideo quia me pos multas iniurias parentem sibi amnegauerit. Et A. Lelio Apeliti, clienti karissimo quem boluerit do(n)ationis causa sarcofagum eligat sibi, opter quod in tam ma(g)na clade non me reliquerit, cuius beneficia (h)abeo
μή μου παρέλθῃς τὸ ἐπίγραμμα, ὁδοιπόρε,  
ἀλλὰ σταθεὶς ἄκουε καὶ μαθὼν ἄπι.  
οὐκ ἔστι ἐν Ἅδου πλοῖον, οὐ πορθμεὺς Χάρων,  
οὐκ Αἰακὸς κλειδοῦχος, οὐχὶ Κέρβερος κύων  
ἡμεῖς δὲ πάντες οἱ κάτω τεθνηκότες  
ὀστέα τέφρα <γ>εγόναμεν, ἄλλο δὲ οὐδὲ ἕν.  
εἴρηκά σοι ὀρθῶς ὕπαγε, ὀδοιπόρε,  
μὴ καὶ τεθνακὼς ἀδόλεσχός σοι φανῶ  

   Μὴ μύρα, μὴ στεφάνους λιθίναις στήλαισι χαρίζου·
       μηδὲ τὸ πῦρ φλέξῃς ἐς κενὸν ἡ δαπάνη.
   ζῶντί μοι, εἴ τι θέλεις, χάρισαι  τέφρην δὲ μεθύσκων
       πηλὸν ποιήσεις, κοὐχ ὁ θανὼν πίεται.
   τοῦτο ἔσομαι γὰρ ἐγώ, σὺ δὲ τούτοις γῆν ἐπιχώσας
       εἰπέ ὅτ<ι> οὐκ <ὢν> ἦν τοῦτο πάλιν γέγονα



Horace: Ode 3.30 (From Latin)

Ode 3.30: My Monument
By Horace
Translated by A.Z. Foreman
Click to hear me recite the original Latin in a reconstruction of educated Roman speech during the late republic and early empire

I've raised a monument to outlast bronze,
Whose heights no dynast's pyramid can exceed,
Which neither North Wind's bluster nor the gnaw
Of rain, nor countless years in slow stampede,
Nor flight of eras can level to the ground.
I'll not all die. Much of me will thrive long

Past Queen Funeria's reach. I in renown 
Of latter days shall grow ever fresh and young.
While yet the pontiff with the quiet virgin
Ascends to the Temple of Jove on that great hill,
I, born where the Aufidus river in violence surges
And droughted Daunus ruled a wild people, will 
Be named: the mighty leader from low birth
Who first led Greek song to Italic measure.
Now, Muse, take on the pridefulness I've earned,
And lay the laureate's wreathe on me with pleasure.

The Original:

Carmen XXX, Liber III
Quintus Horatius Flaccus

Exēgī monumentum aere perennius,
rēgālīque sitū pȳramidum altius,
quod nōn imber edāx nōn Aquilō impotēns
possit dīruere aut innumerābilis
annōrum seriēs et fuga temporum.
Nōn omnis moriar. Multaque pars meī
vītābit Libitīnam, usque ego posterā
crēscam laude recēns, dum Capitōlium
scandet cum tacitā virgine pontifex
dīcar, quā violēns obstrepit Aufidus
et quā pauper aquae Daunus agrestium
rēgnāvit populōrum, ex humilī potēns
prīnceps Aeolium carmen ad Ītalōs
dēdūxisse modōs. Sūme superbiam
quaesītam meritīs et mihi Delphicā
laurō cinge volēns, Melpomenē, comam.

Semonides of Amorgos: On Fate and Fatality (From Greek)

On Fate and Fatality (Fr. 1)
By Semonides of Amorgos
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

Look, lad. Deep-thundering Zeus controls the end 
Of everything, and works it as he will. 
Men have no cognizance, but live as pastured
Cattle beholden to the flight of days,
Not knowing to what end the god will bring
All things, and all of us. Yet we all live
On nourishment of hope and confidence,
Reaching for what is out of reach. Some wait for
The next day, some the turning of next season;
No mortal thinks he will not reach next year
As Lord Wealth's protegé and healthy friend.
But old age comes upon a man before
He makes his goal, while some grotesque disease
Devours another. Others slay each other 
On Ares' bleeding fields and are taken down
By Hades underneath the dark of earth,
And some die out at sea blasted by storm
And the endless harrowing salt waves of the deep,
When they can't make a living on dry land,
And there are those who fasten their own grim noose
And leave the light of day and life by choice.
So everything has its own special harm.
Countless Daemons of doom, disasters and dangers
We can't foresee exist to blindside mortals. 
So here is my advice: don't cling to hope
For good that brings but grief, nor torture yourself
By dwelling on heart-battering regret. 

The Original:

ὦ παῖ, τέλος μὲν Ζεὺς ἔχει βαρύκτυπος
πάντων ὅσ᾿ ἐστὶ καὶ τίθησ᾿ ὅκῃ θέλει,
νοῦς δ᾿ οὐκ ἐπ᾿ ἀνθρώποισιν, ἀλλ᾿ ἐπήμεροι
ἃ δὴ βοτὰ ζώομεν, οὐδὲν εἰδότες
ὅκως ἕκαστον ἐκτελευτήσει θεός.
ἐλπὶς δὲ πάντας κἀπιπειθείη τρέφει
ἄπρηκτον ὁρμαίνοντας· οἱ μὲν ἡμέρην
μένουσιν ἐλθεῖν, οἱ δ᾿ ἐτέων περιτροπάς·
νέωτα δ᾿ οὐδεὶς ὅστις οὐ δοκεῖ βροτῶν
πλούτῳ τε κἀγαθοῖσιν ἵξεσθαι φίλος.
φθάνει δὲ τὸν μὲν γῆρας ἄζηλον λαβὸν
πρὶν τέρμ᾿ ἵκηται, τοὺς δὲ δύστηνοι βροτῶν
φθείρουσι νοῦσοι, τοὺς δ᾿ Ἄρει δεδμημένους
πέμπει μελαίνης Ἀΐδης ὑπὸ χθονός·
οἱ δ᾿ ἐν θαλάσσῃ λαίλαπι κλονεόμενοι
καὶ κύμασιν πολλοῖσι πορφυρῆς ἁλὸς
θνήσκουσιν, εὖτ᾿ ἂν μὴ δυνήσωνται ζόειν·
οἱ δ᾿ ἀγχόνην ἅψαντο δυστήνῳ μόρῳ
καὐτάγρετοι λείπουσιν ἡλίου φάος.
οὕτω κακῶν ἄπ᾿ οὐδέν, ἀλλὰ μυρίαι
βροτοῖσι κῆρες κἀνεπίφραστοι δύαι
καὶ πήματ᾿ ἐστίν. εἰ δ᾿ ἐμοὶ πιθοίατο,
οὐκ ἂν κακῶν ἐρῷμεν, οὐδ᾿ ἐπ᾿ ἄλγεσιν
κακοῖς ἔχοντες θυμὸν αἰκιζοίμεθα.

Forugh Farrokhzad: Captive (From Persian)

Owing to idiosyncrasies of temperament and biography, I don't engage with modern Persian poetry a great deal. I also very rarely translate it, in part because I feel I know too little of modern Iranian cultural, literary and linguistic phenomena to do it as sensibly as I'd like, compared to the classical tradition for which books are a reasonable access point, and the medieval world which nobody can study except from a distance of centuries.
But Forugh Farrokhzad, to use a phrase she might have approved of in this context, is very hard to resist.  This is the third poem of hers that I have translated, mainly due to the depth of my dismay at how badly most of her translators have botched the job (especially with her metered and rhymed works) leaving the English reader with something almost as unreadable as it is unconscionable in its traducement of Forugh.
If there is one thing to be said about Forugh, it is that she had an irrepressible genius for being herself, which isn't as tautological as it might sound. She was true to herself in spite of all attempts by the society around her and by many of the individuals she knew, to make her into something else, more ladylike, less flamboyant, less overtly sexual, and probably a good deal less interesting.  She has been rightly noted as a woman who almost singlehandedly made it possible for a poet to speak as a woman in Persian. While far from being the first woman to write poetry in Persian, she was notable for not being afraid to write poetry as an Iranian woman. Women's experience had almost no precedent in Persian poetry. Those few women of the medieval tradition (such as Mahasti and Jahan Khatun) who did write poetry and did attempt to incorporate women's experience into their work, always seem to be at great pains to remain ladylike and proper while doing so. When Jahan Khatun wishes to express sexual desire, for example, she is forced to speak as a man (to the point of comparing herself to legendary male lovers, and even talking about her beard.) Even Forugh's female contemporaries (to my ear) evince this kind of timidness. Forugh the Modernist, however, comes to express over the course of her five volumes a full range of experience as a woman, including that not only of being desired but of actively desiring. And desire she did. A lot. From the publication of her first book Asīr 'Captive' which takes its title from the poem translated here, Forugh's poetry startled, shocked, scandalized and fascinated her readers.
And Forugh writes as herself. We can almost always be certain that the poetic "I" of her poems is referring to her, or at least some stylized version of her. The poem translated here, for example, was written during an unhappy marriage which she later left (and her husband, as was the norm back there and back then, got sole custody of the child in the divorce.) This autobiographical voice, coupled with her penchant for expressing and treating taboo topics (and not being shy about having a sex life that was not limited to writing) seems to have made her an attractive subject for biographical speculation, condemnation, and outright fantasizing by male readers of her work, much as was the case for Louise Labé in Renaissance France, and Edna St. Vincent Millay in 20th century America.
Forugh would eventually come to abandon the tropes, meters and rhymes of the classical tradition (though the shadow of Persian meter always hovers behind even her freest compositions.) Yet here in a poem from her first book, she exploits them to interesting effect. Though in all but one poem ever published she has forsaken monorhyme, preferring like other early Persian modernists to adopt stanzaic rhymes reminiscent of western verse, her diction, meter and habits of phrase would have more in common with the poetry of centuries past than with the free and colloquially tinged verse she would later prefer. The imagery, too, is not entirely new. The trope of a bird trapped in a cage yearning for the loved one above is a well-worn (perhaps even worn down) classical motif. In the classical tradition, however, this is almost always used as a Sufi metaphor to refer to the soul trapped in this world, yearning for the absent Beloved Almighty. (The opening verse of this poem by Hafiz is a brief typical example.)
Forugh maintains the theme of the absent beloved, so central to Persian lyricism, and recycles much of the caged bird motif in the poem's first half or so, but there is a new tone of despair overlaying it. Moreover, whereas God and Beloved tended to merge in classical poetry (and especially when caged birds are involved,) the absent beloved is here very corporeal. And (gasp!) it's a woman desiring him. Indeed, throughout Forugh's work, alongside a near-total absence of anything recognizably "Islamic," one finds a great many such profanations, when not outright sexualizations, of the sacred, appropriating the imagery (or even meters, such as that of Rumi's Masnawī) traditionally associated with divine union or Sufi yearning. In the most inspired cases, such as her 'āšiqāna "Love Song" this has the effect of elevating the joy of carnal sexual union to the highest level of glory and wonder. But I'm getting ahead of myself, and this introductory note has now gotten far longer than I meant for it to get.
In any case, the poem here translated is a relatively sedate one, all things considered, a timid first peep that would eventually swell to full-throated song. But the signs are unmistakable. Turā mēxwāham "I want you" says she with scant decorum.

Captive
Forugh Farrokhzad
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

I want you and I know I'll never hold you
To satisfy my heart in an embrace.
You are the clear bright heavens, I a captive
Bird in a cage that keeps me in my place.

My face behind these cold dark bars looks out
At yours, eyes full of wonderment and rue.
I think about a hand outstretched toward me,
That I might rise on instant wings toward you.

I think about one moment of neglect
When from this stifling sullen jail I'd glide,
Laugh in the face of him who jailed me, leaving
This life to seek a new one at your side.

I think such thoughts, but know I'll never be
Able to flee this cage before I die.
For even if my keeper wished me gone,
I've not enough strength left in me to fly.

Across the bars I see each sunlit morning
My child's eyes smile at mine in gentle glee,
And when I lift my voice in joyous song
His lips come offering up a kiss to me.

Sweet heavens, even if one day I rose
And from this smothering prison cell struck free,
What would I say to my boy's tearsoaked eyes?
"I was a bird held captive. Let me be."

I am a candle that illuminates
Cold ruins with the burning in my breast.
If I should choose to go for dark and silence
It would be desolation for my nest.


The Original:

اسير
فروغ فرخزاد 

ترا می خواهم و دانم که هرگز
به کام دل در آغوشت نگیرم
توئی آن آسمان صاف و روشن
من این کنج قفس، مرغی اسیرم

ز پشت میله های سرد و تیره
نگاه حسرتم حیران برویت
در این فکرم که دستی پیش آید
و من ناگه گشایم پر بسویت

در این فکرم که در یک لحظه غفلت
از این زندان خامش پر بگیرم
به چشم مرد زندانبان بخندم
کنارت زندگی از سر بگیرم

در این فکرم من و دانم که هرگز
مرا یارای رفتن زین قفس نیست
اگر هم مرد زندانبان بخواهد
دگر از بهر پروازم نفس نیست

ز پشت میله ها، هر صبح روشن
نگاه کودکی خندد برویم
چو من سر می کنم آواز شادی
لبش با بوسه می آید بسویم

اگر ای آسمان خواهم که یکروز
از این زندان خامش پر بگیرم
به چشم کودک گریان چه گویم
ز من بگذر، که من مرغی اسیرم

من آن شمعم که با سوز دل خویش
فروزان می کنم ویرانه ای را
اگر خواهم که خاموشی گزینم
پریشان می کنم کاشانه ای را

Romanization:

Asīr
Furōɣ Farruxzād

Turā mēxwāham o dānam ki hargiz
Ba kām-i dil dar āɣōšat nagīram
Toī ān āsmān-i sāf o rawšan
Man īn kunj-i qafas, murɣē asīram

Zi pušt-i mīlahā-i sard o tīra
Nigāh-i hasratam hayrān barōyat
Dar īn fikram ki dastē pēš āyad
Ba man nāgah gušāyam par basōyat

Dar īn fikram ki dar yak lahza ɣaflat
Az īn zindān-i xāmuš par bigīram.
Ba čašm-i mard-i zindānbān bixandam.
Kanārat zindagī az sar bigīram

Dar īn fikram man o dānam, ki hargiz
Marā yārā-i raftan zīn qafas nēst.
Agar ham mard-i zindānbān bixwāhad
Digar az bahr-i parwāzam nafas nēst

Zi pušt-i mīlahā har subh-i rawšan
Nigāh-i kōdakē xandad barōyam
Ču man sar mēkunam āwāz-i šādī
Labaš bā bōsa mēāyad basōyam

Agar, ay āsmān, xwāham ki yak rōz
Az īn zindān-i xāmuš par bigīram.
Ba čašm-i kōdak-i giryān či gōyam
Zi man bigzar, ki man murɣē asīram.

Man ān šam'am ki bā sōz-i dil-i xwēš
Furōzān mēkunam wērānaērā
Agar xwāham ki xāmōšī guzīnam
Parēšān mēkunam kāšānaērā

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