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< Ode to Poetry >

Odes Book II Ode XX
translated by John Luo

English Translation

My poetic spirit is neither common, nor weak
But is double formed like a powerful bird
Which cuts through the liquid air above
Beyond the envious limits of earth,

Leaving the city behind. Not for me,
Despite my humble beginnings, Maecenas,
A sudden, obscure and anonymous end,
To vanish, swallowed by death’s murky waters.

Already the wrinkled skin of the birds
Is forming upon my shins, and up here, 
On my fingers and arms, are lovely white feathers, 
Beginning to grow like buds in the Spring.

I, like Daedalus and the famous Icarus,
A large and tuneful bird, will visit 
The groaning Bosphorus, the African Syrtes, 
And the Hyperborean fields of the North.

From me, the people of Colchis, and Dacians,
Hiding their fear of our military might,
Will learn; the Geloni, and venerable scribes
Of France and Spain, will study my works.

So cease your cries of mourning, your wails
And complaints: restrain your grief and protests,
Go far from my grave! I have no use
For your empty honours and tearful dirges.


Latin original

Non usitata nec tenui ferar
penna biformis per liquidum aethera
     uates neque in terris morabor
    longius inuidiaque maior

urbis relinquam. Non ego pauperum
anguis parentum, non ego quem uocas,

dilecte Maecenas, obibo
nec Stygia cohibebor unda.

Iam iam residunt cruribus asperae
pelles et album mutor in alitem
superne nascunturque leues

     per digitos umerosque plumae.

Iam Daedaleo ocior Icaro
uisam gementis litora Bosphori
Syrtisque Gaetulas canorus
ales Hyperboreosque campos.

Me Colchus et qui dissimulat metum
Marsae cohortis Dacus et ultimi
     noscent Geloni, me peritus
     discet Hiber Rhodanique potor. 

Absint inani funere neniae
luctusque turpes et querimoniae;
  conpesce clamorem ac sepulcri
  mitte superuacuos honores.



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