Boethiustr. James Harpur

Rupis Achaemeniae scopulis, ubi uersa sequentum
pectoribus figit spicula pugna fugax,
Tigris et Euphrates uno se fonte resoluunt
et mox abiunctis dissociantur aquis.

Si coeant cursumque iterum reuocentur in unum,
confluat alterni quod trahit unda uadi,
conuenient puppes et uulsi flumine trunci
mixtaque fortuitos implicet unda modos;

quos tamen ipsa uagos terrae decliuia casus
gurgitis et lapsi defluus ordo regit.
Sic quae permissis fluitare uidetur habenis
fors patitur frenos ipsaque lege meat.

‘If everything is ordered by God, no random
events are possible.’.............Consolation 5.1

The Tigris and Euphrates have one source
that bubbles from the rocky heights of Persia,
where fleeing Parthians turn to shoot pursuers,
but soon their waters take a separate course.

Yet if they joined again and formed one stream
then everything transported by each river –
ships and uprooted trees – would come together
and the mingled waters flow haphazardly.

and yet topography and downward flow
would still control the random swirling currents.
So chance, which seems to run with loosened reins,
bites on the bit, and must obey the law.

Published in PN Review, vol. 34 no. 1

Transl. Copyright © James Harpur 2007

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