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Texan Eclogues

Nearly a decade ago I issued my first poetry composition assignment. This assignment was to reflect the culmination of Latin poetry studied that year. We had looked at poems short and long by the poets from the Golden Age of Latin Literature: Horace, Vergil, Catullus, and Ovid. Among these works we read a couple of Vergil’s Eclogues, beautiful pastoral poems that pre-date his magnum opus, Aeneid. We used Vergil’s pastoral style to inspire our own bucolics on the fields of Texas.  Over the years I have found no better way of instilling a deep appreciation for both the beauty and labor of Latin poetry than through a bit of imitation in writing. The assignment can, however, be a bit overwhelming. After all, I am asking my students to imitate the most “epic” of poets. The assignment was 5-10 lines of dactylic hexameter on a pastoral theme. Students were to be mindful of elisions and incorporate at least one rhetorical device.* I titled the collection Texan Eclogues since these eclogues were composed by young Texans.  This collection can be found in the first edition of The Vates Anthology of New Latin Poetry. I encourage readers to take a look at Vates where you will find a new age of Latin poets carrying on the craft and the tradition begun in that once Golden Age of Latin Literature.

I

upilio in pratum pulcherrimum agens gregem omnem.
laetificum carmen affirmanti uoce cantat:
‘o mi lanigeri amici cessate libenter
tempestiuo mane quod largiuntur gaudete
liberali di. dissoluunt hiemem radio auri
ueremque spargiunt ad agros artusque trementes.
Ver uerrit patulis pennis alarum auium horum.’

Translation:
A shepherd leading his whole flock into a most beautiful
meadow, sings a joyful song with reassuring voice:
‘O my fleecy companions linger freely. Rejoice in
the ripe morning which the generous gods bestow.
They melt the winter with ray of gold and
spread the spring to trembling fields and bodies.
Spring sweeps with the outspread feathers of the wings of these birds.’

* * *

II
dic musa, spumo de Oceano Apollo quo
aethere transcenso ut aquae se submergit currus
bullent. dic insulam rauam luxuriosam.
Nymphae currunt saltant saxa et herbam in ora.
est hoc asylum et regia uxoris Hectoris feri.

Translation:
Speak muse, concerning frothy Oceanus in which Apollo, after
The ether had been crossed, submerges his chariot, so that the waters
bubble themselves. Speak of a lush grey island.
Nymphs run over the rocks and grass, they dance on the shore.
This is the sanctuary and palace of the wife of fierce Hector.

* * *

III
nunc in caelo clar’ Aurora celeriter surgit.
aduocat iter in agrem rediret muner’ agere.
ingens pello canis prope me ad pascula currit,
ualde pecumque salutamus, illos congregarimus.
hos potantes aquam placid’ obseruo otiantes.

Translation:
Now Aurora rises quickly into the clear skies.
She calls again to return into the field and to do [my] duties.
My huge dog with his pelt runs alongside me to the pastures,
And we greet the herd immensely; we herd them.
I watch these, relaxing, drinking the water peacefully.

* * *

IV
papilliones pulchras fructices bacas circum uolant.
siluam per incendo pluit atque et caelum cantat.
de caelo imber re faciens cadit musicam
incurrit. incurrit in uirides arbores fragilesque
flores. spissus poculum imber Proserpinum fundet.

Translation:
The beautiful butterflies fly around the berry bush.
I am walking through the forest and it rains and the sky sings.
Rain falls from the sky making music with the objects it strikes.
It strikes against green trees and soft flowers.
The heavy rain fills the cup of Proserpina.

 

*Readers, please kindly consider that these are novice poets. Their work is very good, but not perfect. Do not allow the rare metrical error to take away from the craft.

For more on Latin poetry composition visit the post Latin Haiku.

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