III.2 AT MUSAE COMITES ... WE HAVE VERSES GUARANTEED ...
Sextus Propertius tr. Josephine Balmer
at Musae comites et carmina cara legenti,
nec defessa choris Calliopea meis.
fortunata, meo si qua's celebrata libello!
carmina erunt formae tot monumenta tuae.
nam neque pyramidum sumptus ad sidera ducti,
nec Iovis Elei caelum imitata domus,
nec Mausolei dives fortuna sepulcri
mortis ab extrema condicione vacant.
aut illis flamma aut imber subducet honores,
annorum aut tacito pondere victa ruent.
at non ingenio quaesitum nomen ab aevo
excidet: ingenio stat sine morte decus.
We have verses guaranteed to make readers swoon,
Calliope, comrade Muse, dancing to old tunes.
So forget vast pyramids soaring to the stars,
mansions to match Jove's halls, Olympic pools and bars,
the fretted stones of Mausolus, famous for a tomb -
none can settle death's red demand and set us free.
Fire and food wear down masons' work, names, dates, address,
years pass, blow by blow, triumphs fade, weighed down by stress.
But not this art, words formed for all eternity,
that will not fade. A monument to stand its ground
beyond death.

Transl. Copyright © Josephine Balmer 1996 - publ. Bloodaxe Books


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