VERGILIUS, Publius / VIRGIL
Ītaliam, fātō profugus, Lāvīniaque vēnit
lītora, multum ille et terrīs iactātus et altō
vī superum saevae memorem Iūnōnis ob īram;
multa quoque et bellō passūs, dum conderet urbem, inferretque deōs Latiō, genus unde Latīnum,
Albānīque patrēs, atque altae moenia Rōmae.
exoriare aliquis nostris ex ossibus ultor
qui face Dardanios ferroque sequare colonos,
nunc, olim, quocumque dabunt se tempore vires.
From the sea-coast of Troy in early days
He came to Italy by destiny,
To our Lavinian western shore,
A fugitive, this captain, buffeted
His gods to Laetium, land of the Latin race,
The Alban lords, and the high walls of Rome.
Tell me the causes now, O Muse, how galled
That I could tear myself away and leave you?
Unthinkable; how could a father say it?
Now if it pleases the powers about that nothing
Stand of this great city; if your heart
Is set on adding your own death and ours
Earth’s peoples—for your arts are to be these:
To pacify, to impose the rule of law,
To spare the conquered, battle down the proud.
Anxiety and anger. Now [Allecto]
Plucked one of the snakes, her gloomy tresses,
And tossed it at the woman, sent it down
Her bosom to her midriff and her heart,
In sheets of blood, and the whole woodland bellows.
Just so Trojan Aeneas and the hero
Son of Daunus, battering shield on shield,
Fought with a din that filled the air of heaven.
Trojan Aeneas, torn from Libyan waves.
O you who were alone in taking pity
on the unutterable trials of Troy,
who welcome us as allies to your city
and home- a remnant left by Greeks, harassed
by all disasters known on land and sea.
Or think that any Grecian gifts are free
of craft? Is this the way Ulysses acts?
Either Achaeans hide, shut in this wood,
or else this is an engine built against our walls...
I fear the Greeks, even when they bring gifts.
my body. I am buried here. Do spare
the profanation of your pious hands.
I am no stranger to you; I am Trojan.
The blood you see does not flow from a stem.
Flee from these cruel lands, this greedy shore,
for I am Polydorus; here an iron
harvest of lances covered my pierced body.
an everlasting peace and plighted wedding.
You have what you were bent upon: she burns
with love; the frenzy now is in her bones.
Then let us rule this people - you and I-
with equal auspices...
May an avenger rise up from my bones,
one who will track with firebrand and sword
the Dardan settlers, now and in the future,
at any time that ways present themselves.
completes its months since we entombed in earth
the bones and remnants of my godlike father.
Unless I err, that anniversary
is here, the day that I shall always keep
in grief and honor...
appeared and offered blazing brands. 'Look here
for Troy; here is your home!' she cried. The time
to act is now; such signs do not allow
delay. Here are four altars raised to Neptune;
the god himself gives us the will, the torches.
with much blood.
You shall have your Simois
your Xanthus, and your Doric camp; already
there is in Latium a new Achilles.
so great a grief as this. But stay your steps.
Do not retreat from me. Whom do you flee?
This is the last time fate will let us speak.
to be of horn, through it an easy exit
is given to true Shades; the other is made
of polished ivory, perfect glittering,
but through that way the Spirits send false dreams
into the world above. And here Anchises,
when he is done with words, accompanies
the Sibyl and his son together; and
he sends them through the gate of ivory.
Now felt the Queen the sharp, slow-gathering pangs
of love; and out of every pulsing vein
nourished the wound and fed its viewless fire.
Her hero's virtues and his lordly line
keep calling to her soul; his words, his glance,
cling to her heart like lingering, barbed steel,
and rest and peace from her vexed body fly.
A new day's dawn with Phoebus' lamp divine
lit up all lands, and from the vaulted heaven
Aurora had dispelled the dark and dew;
when thus unto the ever-answering heart
of her dear sister spoke the stricken Queen:
(translation Theodore C. WILLIAMS)
Here was the toilsome, labyrinthine maze,
Where, pitying love-lorn Ariadne's tears,
The crafty Daedalus himself betrayed
The secret of his work; and gave the clue
To guide the path of Theseus through the gloom.
0 Icarus, in such well-graven scene
How proud thy place should be! but grief forbade:
Twice in pure gold a father's fingers strove
To shape thy fall, and twice they strove in vain.
Aeneas long the various work would scan;
(Translaton: Theodore C. WILLIAMS)
Descent to he Underworld
You gods, whose is the realm of spirits, and you, dumb shadows,
and Chaos, Phlegethon, wide silent places of the night,
let me tell what I have heard: by your power, let me
reveal things buried in the deep earth, and the darkness.
On they went, hidden in solitary night, through gloom,
through Dis’s empty halls, and insubstantial kingdom,
like a path through a wood, in the faint light
under a wavering moon, when Jupiter has buried the sky
in shadow, and black night has stolen the colour from things.
Right before the entrance, in the very jaws of Orcus,
Grief and vengeful Care have made their beds,
and pallid Sickness lives there, and sad Old Age,
and Fear, and persuasive Hunger, and vile Need,
forms terrible to look on, and Death and Pain:
then Death’s brother Sleep, and Evil Pleasure of the mind,
and, on the threshold opposite, death-dealing War,
and the steel chambers of the Furies, and mad Discord,
her snaky hair entwined with blood-wet ribbons.
In the centre a vast shadowy elm spreads its aged trunks
and branches: the seat, they say, that false Dreams hold,
thronging, clinging beneath every leaf.
And many other monstrous shapes of varied creatures,
are stabled by the doors, Centaurs and bi-formed Scylla,
and hundred-armed Briareus, and the Lernean Hydra,
hissing fiercely, and the Chimaera armed with flame,
Gorgons, and Harpies, and the triple bodied shade, Geryon.
At this, trembling suddenly with terror, Aeneas grasped
his sword, and set the naked blade against their approach:
and, if his knowing companion had not warned him that these were
tenuous bodiless lives flitting about with a hollow semblance of form,
he would have rushed at them, and hacked
at the shadows uselessly with his sword.
Translation: A.S. KLINE
turbidus hic caeno uastaque uoragine gurges
aestuat atque omnem Cocyto eructat harenam.
portitor has horrendus aquas et flumina seruat
terribili squalore Charon, cui plurima mento
canities inculta iacet, stant lumina flamma
sordidus ex umeris nodo dependet amictus.
ipse ratem conto subigit uelisque ministrat
et ferruginea subuectat corpora cumba,
iam senior, sed cruda deo uiridisque senectus.
huc omnis turba ad ripas effusa ruebat,
matres atque uiri defunctaque corpora uita
magnanimum heroum, pueri innuptaeque puellae,
impositique rogis iuuenes ante ora parentum:
quam multa in siluis autumni frigore primo
lapsa cadunt folia, aut ad terram gurgite ab alto
quam multae glomerantur aues, ubi frigidus annus
trans pontum fugat et terris immittit apricis.
stabant orantes primi transmittere cursum
tendebantque manus ripae ulterioris amore.
nauita sed tristis nunc hos nunc accipit illos,
ast alios longe summotos arcet harena.
Aeneas miratus enim motusque tumultu
'dic,' ait, 'o virgo, quid vult concursus ad amnem?
quidue petunt animae? uel quo discrimine ripas
hae linquunt, illae remis uada liuida uerrunt?'
olli sic breuiter fata est longaeua sacerdos:
'Anchisa generate, deum certissima proles,
Cocyti stagna alta uides Stygiamque paludem,
di cuius iurare timent et fallere numen.
haec omnis, quam cernis, inops inhumataque turba est;
portitor ille Charon; hi, quos vehit unda, sepulti.
nec ripas datur horrendas et rauca fluenta
transportare prius quam sedibus ossa quierunt.
centum errant annos volitantque haec litora circum;
tum demum admissi stagna exoptata revisunt.'
constitit Anchisa satus et vestigia pressit
multa putans sortemque animo miseratus iniquam.
Of Acheron, whose torrent fierce and foul
Disgorges in Cocytus all its sands.
A ferryman of gruesome guise keeps ward
Upon these waters, -- Charon, foully garbed,
With unkempt, thick gray beard upon his chin,
And staring eyes of flame; a mantle coarse,
All stained and knotted, from his shoulder falls,
As with a pole he guides his craft, tends sail,
And in the black boat ferries o'er his dead; --
Old, but a god's old age looks fresh and strong.
To those dim shores the multitude streams on --
husbands and wives, and pale, unbreathing forms
Of high-souled heroes, boys and virgins fair,
And strong youth at whose graves fond parents mourned.
As numberless the throng as leaves that fall
When autumn's early frost is on the grove;
Or like vast flocks of birds by winter's chill
Sent flying o'er wide seas to lands of flowers.
All stood beseeching to begin their voyage
Across that river, and reached out pale hands,
In passionate yearning for its distant shore.
But the grim boatman takes now these, now those,
Or thrusts unpitying from the stream away.
Aeneas, moved to wonder and deep awe,
Beheld the tumult; Virgin seer! he cried,
Why move the thronging ghosts toward yonder stream?
What seek they there? Or what election holds
That these unwilling linger, while their peers
Sweep forward yonder o'er the leaden waves?
To him, in few, the aged Sibyl spoke :
Son of Anchises, offspring of the gods,
Yon are Cocytus and the Stygian stream,
By whose dread power the gods themselves do fear
To take an oath in vain. Here far and wide
Thou seest the hapless throng that hath no grave.
That boatman Charon bears across the deep
Such as be sepulchred with holy care.
But over that loud flood and dreadful shore
No trav'ler may be borne, until in peace
His gathered ashes rest. A hundred years
Round this dark borderland some haunt and roam,
Then win late passage o'er the longed-for wave.
Aeneas lingered for a little space,
Revolving in his soul with pitying prayer
Fate's partial way.
Then from heaven
the flowing-haired Apollo bent his gaze
upon Ausonia's host, and cloud-enthroned
looked downward o'er the city, speaking thus
to fair Iulus in his victory:
“Hail to thy maiden prowess, boy! This way
the starward path to dwelling-place divine.
O sired of gods and sire of gods to come,
all future storms of war by Fate ordained
shall into peace and lawful calm subside
beneath the offspring of Assaracus.
No Trojan destinies thy glory bound.
litore Trinacrio dederatque abeuntibus heros,
dividit, et dictis maerentia pectora mulcet:
`O socii---neque enim ignari sumus ante malorum---
O passi graviora, dabit deus his quoque finem.
Vos et Scyllaeam rabiem penitusque sonantis
accestis scopulos, vos et Cyclopea saxa
experti: revocate animos, maestumque timorem
mittite: forsan et haec olim meminisse iuvabit.
Per varios casus, per tot discrimina rerum
tendimus in Latium; sedes ubi fata quietas
ostendunt; illic fas regna resurgere Troiae.
Durate, et vosmet rebus servate secundis.
He set abroach, and for the feast prepar'd,
In equal portions with the ven'son shar'd.
Thus while he dealt it round, the pious chief
With cheerful words allay'd the common grief:
"Endure, and conquer! Jove will soon dispose
To future good our past and present woes.
With me, the rocks of Scylla you have tried;
Th' inhuman Cyclops and his den defied.
What greater ills hereafter can you bear?
Resume your courage and dismiss your care,
An hour will come, with pleasure to relate
Your sorrows past, as benefits of Fate.
Thro' various hazards and events, we move
To Latium and the realms foredoom'd by Jove.
Call'd to the seat (the promise of the skies)
Where Trojan kingdoms once again may rise,
Endure the hardships of your present state;
Live, and reserve yourselves for better fate.
The shepherd Corydon with love was fired
For fair Alexis, his own master's joy:
No room for hope had he, yet, none the less,
The thick-leaved shadowy-soaring beech-tree grove
Still would he haunt, and there alone, as thus,
To woods and hills pour forth his artless strains.
"Cruel Alexis, heed you naught my songs?
Have you no pity? you'll drive me to my death.
Now even the cattle court the cooling shade
And the green lizard hides him in the thorn:
Now for tired mowers, with the fierce heat spent,
Pounds Thestilis her mess of savoury herbs,
Wild thyme and garlic. I, with none beside,
Save hoarse cicalas shrilling through the brake,
Still track your footprints 'neath the broiling sun.
Better have borne the petulant proud disdain
Of Amaryllis, or Menalcas wooed,
Albeit he was so dark, and you so fair!
Trust not too much to colour, beauteous boy;
White privets fall, dark hyacinths are culled.
You scorn me, Alexis, who or what I am
Care not to ask- how rich in flocks, or how
In snow-white milk abounding: yet for me
Roam on Sicilian hills a thousand lambs;
Summer or winter, still my milk-pails brim.
I sing as erst Amphion of Circe sang,
What time he went to call his cattle home
On Attic Aracynthus. Nor am I
So ill to look on: lately on the beach
I saw myself, when winds had stilled the sea,
And, if that mirror lie not, would not fear
Daphnis to challenge, though yourself were judge.
Ah! were you but content with me to dwell.
Some lowly cot in the rough fields our home,
Shoot down the stags, or with green osier-wand
Round up the straggling flock! There you with me
In silvan strains will learn to rival Pan.
Pan first with wax taught reed with reed to join;
For sheep alike and shepherd Pan hath care.
Nor with the reed's edge fear you to make rough
Your dainty lip; such arts as these to learn
What did Amyntas do?- what did he not?
A pipe have I, of hemlock-stalks compact
In lessening lengths, Damoetas' dying-gift:
'Mine once,' quoth he, 'now yours, as heir to own.'
Foolish Amyntas heard and envied me.
Ay, and two fawns, I risked my neck to find
In a steep glen, with coats white-dappled still,
From a sheep's udders suckled twice a day-
These still I keep for you; which Thestilis
Implores me oft to let her lead away;
And she shall have them, since my gifts you spurn.
Come hither, beauteous boy; for you the Nymphs
Bring baskets, see, with lilies brimmed; for you,
Plucking pale violets and poppy-heads,
Now the fair Naiad, of narcissus flower
And fragrant fennel, doth one posy twine-
With cassia then, and other scented herbs,
Blends them, and sets the tender hyacinth off
With yellow marigold. I too will pick
Quinces all silvered-o'er with hoary down,
Chestnuts, which Amaryllis wont to love,
And waxen plums withal: this fruit no less
Shall have its meed of honour; and I will pluck
You too, ye laurels, and you, ye myrtles, near,
For so your sweets ye mingle. Corydon,
You are a boor, nor heeds a whit your gifts
Alexis; no, nor would Iollas yield,
Should gifts decide the day. Alack! alack!
What misery have I brought upon my head!-
Loosed on the flowers Siroces to my bane,
And the wild boar upon my crystal springs!
Whom do you fly, infatuate? gods ere now,
And Dardan Paris, have made the woods their home.
Let Pallas keep the towers her hand hath built,
Us before all things let the woods delight.
The grim-eyed lioness pursues the wolf,
The wolf the she-goat, the she-goat herself
In wanton sport the flowering cytisus,
And Corydon Alexis, each led on
By their own longing. See, the ox comes home
With plough up-tilted, and the shadows grow
To twice their length with the departing sun,
Yet me love burns, for who can limit love?
Ah! Corydon, Corydon, what hath crazed your wit?
Your vine half-pruned hangs on the leafy elm;
Why haste you not to weave what need requires
Of pliant rush or osier? Scorned by this,
Elsewhere some new Alexis you will find.
'Twas in my thought to do so, Lycidas;
Even now was I revolving silently
If this I could recall- no paltry song:
'Come, Galatea, what pleasure is 't to play
Amid the waves? Here glows the Spring, here earth
Beside the streams pours forth a thousand flowers;
Here the white poplar bends above the cave,
And the lithe vine weaves shadowy covert: come,
Leave the mad waves to beat upon the shore.
Muses of Sicily, essay we now
A somewhat loftier task! Not all men love
Coppice or lowly tamarisk: sing we woods,
Woods worthy of a Consul let them be.
Now the last age by Cumae's Sibyl sung
Has come and gone, and the majestic roll
Of circling centuries begins anew:
Justice returns, returns old Saturn's reign,
With a new breed of men sent down from heaven.
Only do thou, at the boy's birth in whom
The iron shall cease, the golden race arise,
Befriend him, chaste Lucina; 'tis thine own
Apollo reigns. And in thy consulate,
This glorious age, O Pollio, shall begin,
And the months enter on their mighty march.
Under thy guidance, whatso tracks remain
Of our old wickedness, once done away,
Shall free the earth from never-ceasing fear.
He shall receive the life of gods, and see
Heroes with gods commingling, and himself
Be seen of them, and with his father's worth
Reign o'er a world at peace. For thee, O boy,
First shall the earth, untilled, pour freely forth
Her childish gifts, the gadding ivy-spray
With foxglove and Egyptian bean-flower mixed,
And laughing-eyed acanthus. Of themselves,
Untended, will the she-goats then bring home
Their udders swollen with milk, while flocks afield
Shall of the monstrous lion have no fear.
Thy very cradle shall pour forth for thee
Caressing flowers. The serpent too shall die,
Die shall the treacherous poison-plant, and far
And wide Assyrian spices spring. But soon
As thou hast skill to read of heroes' fame,
And of thy father's deeds, and inly learn
What virtue is, the plain by slow degrees
With waving corn-crops shall to golden grow,
From the wild briar shall hang the blushing grape,
And stubborn oaks sweat honey-dew. Nathless
Yet shall there lurk within of ancient wrong
Some traces, bidding tempt the deep with ships,
Gird towns with walls, with furrows cleave the earth.
Therewith a second Tiphys shall there be,
Her hero-freight a second Argo bear;
New wars too shall arise, and once again
Some great Achilles to some Troy be sent.
Then, when the mellowing years have made thee man,
No more shall mariner sail, nor pine-tree bark
Ply traffic on the sea, but every land
Shall all things bear alike: the glebe no more
Shall feel the harrow's grip, nor vine the hook;
The sturdy ploughman shall loose yoke from steer,
Nor wool with varying colours learn to lie;
But in the meadows shall the ram himself,
Now with soft flush of purple, now with tint
Of yellow saffron, teach his fleece to shine.
While clothed in natural scarlet graze the lambs.
'Such still, such ages weave ye, as ye run,'
Sang to their spindles the consenting Fates
By Destiny's unalterable decree.
Assume thy greatness, for the time draws nigh,
Dear child of gods, great progeny of Jove!
See how it totters- the world's orbed might,
Earth, and wide ocean, and the vault profound,
All, see, enraptured of the coming time!
Ah! might such length of days to me be given,
And breath suffice me to rehearse thy deeds,
Nor Thracian Orpheus should out-sing me then,
Nor Linus, though his mother this, and that
His sire should aid- Orpheus Calliope,
And Linus fair Apollo. Nay, though Pan,
With Arcady for judge, my claim contest,
With Arcady for judge great Pan himself
Should own him foiled, and from the field retire.
Begin to greet thy mother with a smile,
O baby-boy! ten months of weariness
For thee she bore: O baby-boy, begin!
For him, on whom his parents have not smiled,
Gods deem not worthy of their board or bed.
Until Jove let it be, no colonist
Mastered the wild earth; no land was marked,
None parceled out or shared; but everyone
Looked for his living in the common world.
And Jove gave poison to the blacksnakes, and
Made the wolves ravage, made the ocean roll,
Knocked honey from the leaves, took fire away—
So man might beat out various inventions
By reasoning and art.
First he chipped fire
Out of the veins of flint where it was hidden;
Then rivers felt his skiffs of the light alder;
Then sailors counted up the stars and named them:
Pleiades, Hyades, and the Pole Star;
Then were discovered ways to take wild things.
In snares, or hunt them with the circling pack;
And how to whip a stream with casting nets,
Or draw the deep-sea fisherman’s cordage up;
And then the use of steel and the shrieking saw;
Then various crafts. All things were overcome
By labor and by force of bitter need.
And some will stay up late beside the fire
On winter nights, whittling torches, while
The housewife runs the shuttle through the loom
And comforts the long labor with her singing;
Or at the stove she simmers the new wine,
Skimming the froth with leaves. Oh idle time!
In that hale season, all their worries past,
Farmers arrange convivialities—
As after laden ships have reached home port,
The happy sailors load the prow with garlands.
Then is the time to gather acorns and
Laurel berries and the bloodred myrtle,
To lay your traps for cranes and snares for buck,
To hit the fallow deer with twisted slingshots,
And track the long-eared hare—
When snow is deep, and ice is on the rivers.
A storm should never catch you unprepared.
Aerial cranes take flight before its rising,
The restless heifer with dilated nostrils
Sniffs the air; the squeaking hirondelle
Flits round and round the lake, and frogs,
Inveterate in their mud, croak a chorale.
And too the ant, more frantic in his gallery,
Trundles his eggs out from their hiding place;
The rainbow, cloud imbiber, may be seen;
And crows go cawing from the pasture
In a harsh throng of crepitating wings;
The jeering jay gives out his yell for rain
And takes a walk by himself on the dry sand.
Stormwise, the various sea-fowl, and such birds
As grub the sweet Swan River in Asia,
May be observed dousing themselves and diving
Or riding on the water, as if they wished—
What odd exhilaration—to bathe themselves.
When Caesar died, the great sun pitied Rome,
So veiling his bright head, the godless time
Trembled in fear of everlasting night;
And then were portents given of earth and ocean,
Vile dogs upon the roads, and hideous
Strange birds, and Aetna quaking, and her fires
Bursting to overflow the Cyclops’ fields
With flames whirled in the air and melted stones.
Thunder of war was heard in Germany
From south to north, shaking the granite Alps;
And a voice also through the silent groves
Piercing; and apparitions wondrous pale
Were seen in dead of night. Then cattle spoke
(O horror!), streams stood still, the earth cracked open
And tears sprang even from the temple bronze.
The Po, monarch of rivers, on his back
Spuming whole forests, raced through the lowland plains
And bore off pens and herds; and then continually
The viscera of beasts were thick with evil,
Blood trickled from the springs; tall towns at night
Re-echoed to the wolf-pack’s shivering howl;
And never from pure heaven have there fallen
So many fires, nor baleful comets burned.
It seemed that once again the Roman lines,
Alike in arms, would fight at Philippi;
And heaven permitted those Thessalian fields
To be enriched again with blood of ours.
Some future day, perhaps, in that country,
A farmer with his plow will turn the ground,
And find the javelins eaten thin with rust,
Or knock the empty helmets with his mattock
And wonder, digging up those ancient bones.
Paternal gods! Ancestors! Mother Vesta!
You that guard Tiber and the Palatine!
Now that long century is overthrown,
Let not this young man fail to give us peace!
Long enough beneath your rule, O Caesar,
Heaven has hated us and all those triumphs
Where justice was thrown down—so many wars,
So many kinds of wickedness! No honor
Rendered the plow, but the fields gone to ruin,
The country-folk made homeless, and their scythes
Beaten to straight swords on the blowing forge!
War from the Euphrates to Germany;
Ruptured engagements, violence of nations,
And impious Mars raging the whole world over—
As when a four horsed chariot rears away
Plunging from the barrier, and runs wild,
Heedless of the reins or the charioteer.
Translation Robert FITGERALD
Georgica IV 452-528 - Vertaling Ida Gerhardt
Hij sprak. De ziener eindelijk, met geweld zich dwingend,
-groen vuur schiet uit zijn vlammende ogen- knarsetandend,
opent de mond en doet orakelend zijn uitspraak:
'Wel is het van een god, dat u de wraakzucht teistert;
gij boet een zware fout. Orpbeus, rampzalig- schuldeloos
nochtans- met deze straf blijft bij, zo 't lot niet ingrijpt,
u slaan, diep wrokkend om de vrouw hem afgenomen,
Eurydice. In vlucht voor ü, rap langs het water,
zag zij niet voor haar voet- een kind in doods nabijheid-
de grote slang, in 't hoge oevergras verscholen.
En de Dryaden, rei van speelgenoten, riepen
over de bergen, vèr; de hoge toppen schreiden
-Pangaca, Rhodope-, het vechtersland van Rhesus,
de Donausteppen en zij, Athene's Orythuia.
Zelf zocht hij met zijn lier te sussen 't ziek verlangen,
zingend, o liefste, op 't verlaten strand eenzelvig
van u bij 't rijzend licht, van u als de avond daalde.
Zelfs door de Hellekrochten, Hades' diepe poorten,
geschreden door het woud, spokig van donk're nevelen,
trad hij voor 't schimmenrijk, de koning der verschrikking,
de harten voor het menselijk smeken zonder deernis.
Zie, door zijn lied geroerd, ontzweefden donkers diepten
de schimmen ijl, van licht verstoken schijngestalten,
- zo komen in een boom honderden vogels schuilen
voor de avondval of voor een onweer uit de bergen-:
moeders en vaders, fiere helden, afgestorven
van dit bestaan; kinderen, meisjes vóór haar bruidstijd;
zonen, tot as verbrand voor de ogen van hun ouders.
Rondom hen, slijkig zwart niet haveloze biezen,
ligt de Cocytus, sombere poel van stilstaand water,
en negen malen strikt de Styx hen in zijn kronkels.
Hij zingt: de hoven van de dood, de Orcus zelve,
de Erinyen - blauwig kronkelen door het haar de slangen -
zijn ademloos; het blaffen smoort in Cerberus' kelen,
Ixions wentelrad blijft, nu de wind zwijgt, stilstaan.
Reeds keerde Orpheus terug, aan elk gevaar ontkomen,
terwijl de weergegevene naar het licht geleid werd,
Eurydice, ná hem, Proserpina gehoorzaam.
Toen plotseling overmocht hem weerloos het verlangen
- hoezeer vergeeflijk, als de Hel vergeving kende-
staan bleef hij en zag om, reeds op de grens van 't daglicht,
naar haar, Eurydice, roekeloos - ach! - bezweken.
Te niet zijn tocht, geschonden van de wrede heerser
't verdrag: drie donderslagen klonken uit de Avernus.
En zij: 'hoe kondt ge mij verderven en u zelve,
Orpheus, zozeer verblind! Genadeloos roept opnieuw mij
het noodlot terug, het donker dekt mijn brekende ogen;
een laatst vaarwel - de grote nacht heeft mij gegrepen,
'k strek machteloos naar u, niet meer van u, mijn handen.'
Zij sprak - en uit zijn ogen, zoals rook vernevelt,
dun in de lucht ontweek zij. Tastend in het ijle,
nog zóveel woorden op de lippen, ontwaarde Orpheus
Eurydice niet meer en Orcus' veerman laat hem
ten tweeden male niet over het scheidend water.
Wat kon jij? Waar vindt woon die tweemaal dierf het liefste?
Verbad zijn stem de dood, zijn tranen deze machten?
Zij, in doods kilte, voer reeds in de boot van Charon.
En hij - gaat het verhaal - heeft zeven volle maanden,
waar steil de rotswand rijst, bij de verlaten Strymon
geschreid en in de koele grot zich uitgezongen;
de tijgers strekten zich, de eiken kwamen tot hem.
Zo klaagt de nachtegaal, in schaduw van een peppel,
om zijn verloren jongen, die een boer, hardvochtig,
loerend heeft uitgehaald - kaal uit het nest; de vogel
snikt heel de nacht - droef, op zijn tak, begint hij telkens
de melodie en vult ver de omtrek niet zijn klachten.
Geen vrouw, geen liefde wist zijn hart te winnen - eenzaam,
de ijsvlakten van liet noorden over, Tanaïs, sneeuwveld,
en de altijd ruig berijpte barre steppen zwierf hij
en treurde om zijn verlies - Eurydice en Hades'
geschonden gave - trouw die de Bacchanten krenkte.
Bij Bacchus' riten, in nachtelijke orgie, is Orpheus
verscheurd; zijn lichaam lag verstrooid over de velden.
En nòg, toen van de marmeren hals het hoofd gescheiden
mee met de Hebrus dreef en wentelde in zijn wieling,
bleef toch 'Euryidice' de stem, het stervend spreken
'arme Euridice' het wijkend leven roepen,
'Eurydice' weerkaatsten langs de stroom de oevers.'
Proteus verhaal: dan dook hij met een sprong de zee in
en maakte, waar hij sprong, een kolk van kruivend water.