Virgil (P. Vergilius Maro)trans. Timothy Adès
Sicelides Musae, paulo maiora canamus!The Field. Dear Sir: a somewhat larger theme.
non omnes arbusta iuvant humilesque myricae; Trees and mere hedgerows don't appeal to all;
si canimus silvas, silvae sint consule dignae. Our Country Notes must grace the Capitol.
ultima Cumaei venit iam carminis aetas; The prophesied 'last age' has now begun:
magnus ab integro saeclorum nascitur ordo. The mighty March of Time resumes from nil.
iam redit et Virgo, redeunt Saturnia regna; The Virgin and the Days of Old return;
iam nova progenies caelo demittitur alto. A new breed comes among us from on high.
tu modo nascenti puero, quo ferrea primum Childbirth! The prehistoric Iron Age
desinet ac toto surget gens aurea mundo, Will end, the Golden Age worldwide be born.
casta fave Lucina: tuus iam regnat Apollo.The Sun is King; so, Sister Moon, shine on!
teque adeo decus hoc aevi, te consule, inibit, In fact this glorious millennium
Pollio, et incipient magni procedere menses; Will come while Ron presides, and under him
te duce, si qua manent sceleris vestigia nostri, A pageant of great seasons will remove
inrita perpetua solvent formidine terras.The final traces of our infamy,
And free the globe from unremitting fear.
ille deum vitam accipiet divisque videbitThe boy will live a god's life: he will see
permixtos heroas, et ipse videbitur illis, Heroes at ease with gods, and they'll see him
pacatumque reget patriis virtutibus orbem.Rule, by his father's gifts, a world at peace.
at tibi prima, puer, nullo munuscula cultuFor baby-toys the earth will offer him
errantes hederas passim cum baccare tellus Nature's profusion, romping ivy-leaves,
mixtaque ridenti colocasia fundet acantho. Acanthus, gipsy lilies, wild woodbine;
ipsae lacte domum referent distenta capellaeGoats with their milk will freely wander home,
ubera, nec magnos metuent armenta leones.Huge-uddered; herds won't fear great beasts of prey.
ipsa tibi blandos fundent cunabula flores.His cradle will be thick with pretty flowers;
occidet et serpens, et fallax herba veneniPoisonous weeds and snakes will die the death
occidet; Assyriam vulgo nascetur amomum.And cinnamon will come up everywhere.
at simul heroum laudes et facta parentisHe'll read uplifting stories, and the great
iam legere et quae sit poteris cognoscere virtus,Deeds of his father; learn of excellence;
molli paulatim flavescet campus arista,By then soft fields of corn will just grow gold,
incultisque rubens pendebit sentibus uva,Red grapes will hang along neglected paths
et durae quercus sudabunt roscida mella.And solid oaktrees run with honeydew.
pauca tamen suberunt priscae vestigia fraudis,Few traces will survive of such old frauds
quae temptare Thetim ratibus, quae cingere murisAs Shipping, Agriculture and Defence;
oppida, quae iubeant telluri infindere sulcos.Another helmsman with a chosen crew
alter erit tum Tiphys, et altera quae vehat ArgoWill man the Argo; there'll be other wars,
delectos heroas; erunt etiam altera bella,A Churchill, an Achilles back at Troy.
atque iterum ad Troiam magnus mittetur Achilles.By his maturity, they'll quit the sea:
hinc, ubi iam firmata virum te fecerit aetas, Pilots and merchant-ships will cease to trade.
cedet et ipse mari vector, nec nautica pinusAll countries will produce all types of crop:
mutabit merces: omnis feret omnia tellus.Ground won't be harrowed, grapevines won't be cut.
non rastros patietur humus, non vinea falcem;The sturdy ploughman will unyoke his bulls.
robustus quoque iam tauris iuga solvet arator;Wool won't be taught untruthful colouring:
nec varios discet mentiri lana colores,The grazing ram himself will change his pelt
ipse sed in pratis aries iam suave rubentiTo mauve or saffron-yellow, and the lambs,
murice, iam croceo mutabit vellera luto;Browsing, will go spontaneously red.
sponte sua sandyx pascentes vestiet agnos.'Roll on such times!' the spinning Fates decree,
'talia saecla,' suis dixerunt, 'currite', fusisIn concert with Eternal Destiny.
concordes stabili fatorum numine Parcae.Your hour has come: approach your rank and pomp,
adgredere o magnos - aderit iam tempus - honores,Dear child of gods, awesome nativity.
cara deum suboles, magnum Iovis incrementum. See the world lurching with its high-curved load,
aspice convexo nutantem pondere mundum,The land, the wide sea, heaven's mighty dome:
terrasque tractusque maris caelumque profundum;See them, ecstatic at the age to come.
aspice, venturo laetantur ut omnia saeclo.I hope enough of life remains for me,
o mihi tam longae maneat pars ultima vitae,Breath enough to record what you will do:
spiritus et quantum sat erit tua dicere facta,With luck I'll lyrically outperform
non me carminibus vincat nec Thracius Orpheus,Both Linus and the Thracian lutenist,
nec Linus, huic mater quamvis atque huic pater adsit,Even allowing them parental help,
Orphei Calliopea, Lino formosus Apollo.Apollo and the Muse respectively!
Pan etiam, Arcadia mecum si iudice certet,Yes, Pan can take me on, his Fauns shall judge:
Pan etiam Arcadia dicat se iudice victum.His Fauns shall judge, and Pan shall give me best.
incipe, parve puer, risu cognoscere matrem;Smile then dear child, and recognise - your mum!
matri longa decem tulerunt fastidia menses.She's had nine months of drawn-out tedium.
incipe, parve puer; cui non risere parentes,Smile for your mother, child, and you'll deserve
nec deus hunc mensa, dea nec dignata cubili est.Feasts with the gods, a goddess for your love.

Click here 2 for another translation of this poem.

Trans. Copyright © Timothy Adès 1985, - publ. Agenda 22.3/4

translator's next