Alcaeus: Autumn

Behold! the tender Autumn flower
Is purpling on the hill,
The roses wither on the bower,
And vanished is the dill.
The morning air is keen and bright,
The afternoon is full of light,
And Hesper ushers in the night
With breezes damp and chill.

The purple harvest of the vine
Is bleeding in the press,
And Bacchus comes to taste the wine
And all our labours bless.
Then bring a golden bowl immense,
And mix enough to drown your sense,
And care not if you soon commence
Your secrets to confess.

For wine a mirror is, to show
The image that is fair,
The friend of lightsome mirth, the foe
Of shadow-haunting care.
So fill your Teian goblet up,
And scatter jewels from the cup,
And drink until the last hiccough
Shall drown your latest woe.

Translation by James S. Easby-Smith.

Rudyard Kipling: A Servant When He Reigneth

Three things make earth unquiet
And four she cannot brook
The godly Agur counted them
And put them in a book—
Those Four Tremendous Curses
With which mankind is cursed;
But a Servant when He Reigneth
Old Agur entered first.

An Handmaid that is Mistress
We need not call upon.
A Fool when he is full of Meat
Will fall asleep anon.
An Odious Woman Married
May bear a babe and mend;
But a Servant when He Reigneth
Is Confusion to the end.

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Anacreon: Praise of Bacchus

WHILST our joys with wine we raise,
Youthful Bacchus we will praise.
Bacchus dancing did invent;
Bacchus is on songs intent;
Bacchus teacheth Love to court,
And his mother how to sport;
Graceful confidence he lends;
He oppressive trouble ends;
To the bowl when we repair,
Grief doth vanish into air;
Drink we then, and drown all sorrow;
All our cares not knows the morrow;
Life is dark, let’s dance and play,
They that will be troubled may;
We our joys with wine will raise,
Youthful Bacchus we will praise.

translated by Thomas Stanley, 1651.

Alcaeus: The Storm

JOVE descends in sleet and snow,
Howls the vexed and angry deep;
Every storm forgets to flow,
Bound in winter’s icy sleep,
Ocean wave and forest hoar
To the blast responsive roar.

Drive the tempest from your door,
Blaze on blaze your hearthstone piling,
And unmeasured goblets pour
Brimful, high with nectar smiling.
Then, beneath your poet’s head
Be a downy pillow spread.

Translated by John Herman Merivale (1779–1844).

Alcaeus: Spring

I FEEL the coming of the flowery Spring,
Wakening tree and vine;
A bowl capacious quickly bring
And mix the honeyed wine.

Weave for my throat a garland of fresh dill,
And crown my head with flowers,
And o’er my breast sweet perfumes spill
In aromatic showers.

Translation by James S. Easby-Smith, published 1901.

Theocritus: For a Statue of Æsculapius

FAR as Miletus travelled Pæan’s son;
There to be guest of Nicias, guest of one
Who heals all sickness; and who still reveres
Him, for his sake this cedarn image rears.
The sculptor’s hand right well did Nicias fill;
And here the sculptor lavished all his skill.

Translation by C. S. Calverley, 1869.

Anacreon: The Accompt

IF thou dost the number know
Of the leaves on every bough,
If thou can’st the reckoning keep
Of the sands within the deep;
Thee of all men will I take,
And my Love’s accomptant make.
Of Athenians first a score
Set me down; then fifteen more;
Add a regiment to these
Of Corinthian mistresses,
For the most renown’d for fair
In Achæa sojourn there;
Next our Lesbian Beauties tell;
Those that in Ionia dwell;
Those of Rhodes and Caria count;
To two thousand they amount.
Wonder’st thou I love so many?
’Las of Syria we not any,
Egypt yet, nor Crete have told,
Where his orgies Love doth hold.
What to those then wilt thou say
Which in eastern Bactria,
Or the western Gades remain?
But give o’er, thou toil’st in vain;
For the sum which thou dost seek
Puzzles all arithmetic.

Translated by Thomas Stanley, 1651.

Arthur Rimbaud: Sensation

IN summer evenings blue, pricked by the wheat
On rustic paths the thin grass I shall tread,
And feel its freshness underneath my feet,
And, dreaming, let the wind bathe my bare head.

I shall not speak, nor think, but, walking slow
Through Nature, I shall rove with Love my guide,
As gipsies wander, where, they do not know,
Happy as one walks by a woman’s side.

Translation by Jethro Bithell.

Anacreon: Gold

NOT to love a pain is deem’d,
And to love’s the same esteem’d:
But of all the greatest pain
Is to love unlov’d again.
Birth in love is now rejected,
Parts and arts are disrespected,
Only gold is look’d upon.
A curse take him that was won
First to doat upon it; hence
Springs ‘twixt brothers difference;
This makes parents slighted; this
War’s dire cause and fuel is:
And what’s worst, by this alone
Are we lovers overthrown.

Translation by Thomas Stanley, 1651.

Anacreon: Spring

SEE the Spring herself discloses,
And the Graces gather roses;
See how the becalmed seas
Now their swelling waves appease;
How the duck swims, how the crane
Comes from winter home again;
See how Titan’s cheerful ray
Chaseth the dark clouds away;
Now in their new robes of green
Are the plowman’s labors seen:
Now the lusty teeming Earth
Springs each hour with a new birth;
Now the olive blooms: the vine
Now doth with plump pendants shine;
And with leaves and blossoms now
Freshly bourgeons every bough.


Translation by Thomas Stanley, 1651.

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