Modern Poets on Rome

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Modern Poets on Rome

Postby Aldus Marius on Wed Sep 15, 2004 1:09 am

Salvete amici...

I have a bit of cut-and-paste that definitely belongs in the Artium, but doesn't seem to fit any of the existing topics. Perhaps the closest is "Ithaca"; mine's poetry too, of a modern kind, but it's not that one...and must every poem get its own thread?

So..."Modern Poets on Rome"; as opposed to "Roman Poetry", which would be the ancient variety, I'm thinkin'. I have several other samples of such material, by Kipling, Benet and others; enough to justify a seperate topic. And if anyone else has some such work they'd like to share, why, now you've got somewhere to put 'em!

Here's the first, a hard day in Roman Britain; "Uricon" in the poem is Viroconium:



On Wenlock Edge the wood's in trouble,
His forest fleece the Wrekin heaves;
The gale, it plies the saplings double,
And thick on Severn snow the leaves.

'Twould blow like this through holt and hangar
When Uricon the City stood;
'Tis the old wind in the old anger,
But then it threshed another wood.

Then, 'twas before my time, the Roman
At yonder heaving hill would stare:
The blood that warms an English yeoman,
The thoughts that hurt him, they were there.

There, like the wind through woods in riot,
Through him the gale of life blew high;
The tree of man was never quiet:
Then 'twas the Roman, now 'tis I.

The gale, it plies the saplings double,
It blows so hard, 'twill soon begone:
To-day the Roman and his trouble
Are ashes under Uricon.
---A.E. Houseman, _A Shropshire Lad_


"...one day we shall be the past, and our griefs will lie where lie those of the Romans of old... Do we not therefore care to learn something of those who have handed down the torch through the ages--as we should wish that generations yet unborn should care to learn something of us?"
--J.M. Durant, _Journey into Roman Britain_

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Postby Quintus Pomponius Atticus on Wed Sep 22, 2004 9:53 pm

Salvete omnes,

Salvete,

Somewhat connected to Marius' intent, here's the only poem the famous French poet Baudelaire ever wrote in Latin (n° LIII from "Les fleurs du mal") :

Franciscae meae laudes

Novis te cantabo chordis,
O novelletum quod ludis
In solitudine cordis.

Esto sertis implicata,
Ô femina delicata
Per quam solvuntur peccata!

Sicut beneficum Lethe,
Hauriam oscula de te,
Quae imbuta es magnete.

Quum vitiorum tempegtas
Turbabat omnes semitas,
Apparuisti, Deitas,

Velut stella salutaris
In naufragiis amaris.....
Suspendam cor tuis aris!

Piscina plena virtutis,
Fons æternæ juventutis
Labris vocem redde mutis!

Quod erat spurcum, cremasti;
Quod rudius, exaequasti;
Quod debile, confirmasti.

In fame mea taberna
In nocte mea lucerna,
Recte me semper guberna.

Adde nunc vires viribus,
Dulce balneum suavibus
Unguentatum odoribus!

Meos circa lumbos mica,
O castitatis lorica,
Aqua tincta seraphica;

Patera gemmis corusca,
Panis salsus, mollis esca,
Divinum vinum, Francisca!

— Charles Baudelaire

In Praise of My Frances

I'll sing to you on a new note,
O young hind that gambols gaily
In the solitude of my heart.

Be adorned with wreaths of flowers,
O delightful woman
By whom our sins are washed away!

As from a benign Lethe,
I shall drink kisses from you,
Who were given a magnet's strength.

When a tempest of vices
Was sweeping down on every path,
You appeared, O divinity!

Like the star of salvation
Above a disastrous shipwreck...
I shall place my heart on your altar!

Reservoir full of virtue,
Fountain of eternal youth,
Restore the voice to my mute lips!

You have burned that which was filthy,
Made smooth that which was rough,
Strengthened that which was weak.

In my hunger you are the inn,
In the darkness my lamp,
Lead me always on virtue's path.

Add your strength now to my strength,
Sweet bath scented
With pleasant perfumes!

Shine forth from my loins,
O cuirass of chastity,
That was dipped in seraphic water,

Cup glittering with precious stones,
Bread seasoned with salt, delectable dish,
Heavenly wine — My Frances.

— William Aggeler, The Flowers of Evil (Fresno, CA: Academy Library Guild, 1954)
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