THEOCRITUS: Idylls XII and XXIX (attrib.)
(c. 320-260 B.C.)
Translated by EDWARD CARPENTER
Art come, dear youth? two days and nights away!
(Who burn with love, grow aged in a day.)
As much as apples sweet the damson crude
Excel; the blooming spring the winter rude;
In fleece the sheep her lamb; the maiden in sweetness
The thrice-wed dame; the fawn the calf in fleetness;
The nightingale in song all feathered kind-
So much thy longed-for presence cheers my mind.
To thee I hasten, as to shady beech,
The traveller, when from the heaven's reach
The sun fierce blazes. May our love be strong,
To all hereafter times the theme of song!
'Two men each other loved to that degree,
That either friend did in the other see
A dearer than himself. They loved of old
Both golden natures in an age of gold.
O father Zeus! ageless immortals all!
Two hundred ages hence may one recall,
Down-coming to the irremeable river,
This to my mind, and this good news deliver:
'E'en now from east to west, from north to south,
Your mutual friendship lives in every mouth'
This, as they please, th' Olympians will decide:
Of thee, by blooming virtue beautified,
My glowing song shall only truth disclose;
With falsehood's pustules I'll not shame my nose.
If thou dost sometime grieve me, sweet the pleasure
Of reconcilement, joy in double measure
To find thou never didst intend the pain,
And feel myself from all doubt free again.
And ye Megarians, at Nesaea dwelling,
Expert at rowing, mariners excelling,
Be happy ever! for with honors due
Th' Athenian Diocles, to friendship true
Ye celebrate. With the first blush of spring
The youth surround his tomb: there who shall bring
The sweetest kiss. whose lip is Purest found,
Back to his mother goes with garlands crowned.
Nice touch the arbiter must have indeed,
And must, methinks, the blue-eyed Ganymede
Invoke with many prayers-a mouth to own
True to the touch of lips, as Lydian stone
To proof of gold-which test will instant show
The pure or base. as monev changers know."
They say, dear boy, that wine and truth agree;
And, being in wine, I'll tell the truth to thee-
Yes, all that works in secret in my soul.
'Tis this: thou dost not love me with thy whole
Untampered heart. I know; for half my time
Is spent in gazing on thy beauty's prime;
The other half is nought. When thou art good,
My days are like the gods'; but when the mood
Tormenting takes thee, 'tis my night of woe.
How were it right to vex a lover so?
Take my advice, my lad, thine elder friend,
'Twill make thee glad and grateful in the end:
In one tree build one nest, so no grim snake
May creep upon thee. For to-day thou'lt make
Thy home on one branch, and to-morrow changing
Wilt seek another, to what's new still ranging;
And should a stranger praise your handsome face,
Him more than three-year-proven friend you'll grace.
While him who loved you first you'll treat as cold
As some acquaintanceship of three days old.
Though fliest high, methinks, in love and pride;
But I would say: keep ever at thy side
A mate that is thine equal; doing so,
The townsfolk shall speak well of thee alway,
And love shall never visit thee with woe-
Love that so easily men's hearts can flay,
And mine has conquered that was erst of steel.
Nay, by thy gracious lips I make appeal:
Remember thou wert younger a year agone
And we grow grey and wrinkled, all, or e'er
We can escape our doom; of mortals none
His youth retakes again, for azure wings
Are on her shoulders, and we sons of care
Are all too slow to catch such flying things.
Mindful of this, be gentle, is my prayer,
And love me, guileless, ev'n as I love thee;
So when thou has a beard, such friends as were
Achilles and Patroclus we may be."
HTML Paul Halsall