translation

Horace

Horace (65 BC – 8 BC) was a Roman lyrical poet of satire and historical/pastoral odes. Son of a freedman, eventually he became close friends with Virgil. His famous Ars poetica has been an abc of poetry practice and criticism. He was given a farm near Tivoli, and there he wrote his pastoral and other poems. His main works are his Satires, Odes, Epodes, and Epistles. His Ars suggests that a poet should read widely, and be precise and plain in thought and speech. His influence has been enormous on Pope, Ben Jonson, Auden, and Frost.

 

Willis Barnstone

Willis Barnstone was born in Lewiston, Maine, and educated at Bowdoin, the Sorbonne, the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, Columbia and Yale, taught in Greece at the end of the civil war (1949 – 1951), in Buenos Aires during the Dirty War, and during the Cultural Revolution he went to China, where he was later a Fulbright Professor at Beijing Foreign Studies University (1984 – 1985). A former O’Connor Professor of Greek at Colgate University, he is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Comparative Literature and Spanish at Indiana University.

 

William Baer

William Baer, a recent Guggenheim fellow, is the author of sixteen books including Selected Sonnets: Luís de Camões (University of Chicago Press, 2005). A former Fulbright Professor at the University of Coimbra in Portugal, his translations from the Portuguese, Spanish, and Italian have been published in The London Review, New Letters, Atlanta Review, First Things, Portuguese Literary & Cultural Studies, Modern Poetry in Translation, and other periodicals.

 

 

What Lasts

english translation

What Lasts

original French poem

Quatrain

Adapted from “Miscellaneous Poems”
with lines from “Le Testament”

“Quatrain”
Je suis Françoys dont il me poise,
Né de Paris emprès Pontoise
Et de la corde d'une toise
Sçaura mon col que mon cul poise.

Line 2 of “Le Lais” in “Le Testament”:
Je, Françoys Villon escollier,

See also:  “Le Testament,” ll. 48, 9-32, 721-8, and, in “The Legacy,” line 92 and
ll. 186-8.

 

And It Vanishes

english translation

And It Vanishes

original French poem

Épitaphe

Il a vécu tantôt gai comme un sansonnet,
Tour à tour amoureux insoucieux et tendre,
Tantôt sombre et rêveur comme un triste Clitandre,
Un jour il entendit qu’à sa porte on sonnait.

C’était la Mort!  Alors il la pria d’attendre
Qu’il eût posé le point à son dernier sonnet;
Et puis sans s’émouvoir, il s’en alla s’étendre
Au fond du coffre froid où son corps frissonnait.

Il était paresseux, à ce que dit l’histoire,
Il laissait trop sécher l’encre dans l’écritoire,
Il voulait tour savoir mais il n’a rien connu.

Et quand vint le moment où, las de cette vie,
Un soir d’hiver, enfin l'âme lui fut ravie,
Il s’en alla disant: “Pourquoi suis-je venu?”

 

The Rendezvous

english translation

The Rendezvous

original French poem

Le Rendez-vous

Il est tard. L’astronome aux vielles obstinées,
Sur sa tour, dans le ciel où meurt le dernier bruit,
Cherche des îles d’or, et le front dans la nuit,
Regard à l’infini blanchir des matinées.

Les mondes fuient pareils à des graines vannées;
L’épais fourmillement des nébuleuses luit;
Mais, attentif à l’astre échevelé qu’il suit,
Il le somme et lui dit: “Reviens dans mille années.”

Et l’astre reviendra. D’un pas ni d’un instant
Il ne saurait frauder la science éternelle;
Des hommes passeront, l’humanité l’attend;

D’un œil changeant, mais sûr, elle fait sentinelle;
Et fût-elle abolie au temps de son retour,
Seule, la Vérité veillerait sur la tour.

 

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