12 March, 2006

Basia #7

Johannes Secundus, Basia (1541), #7.

A hundred hundred kisses,
a hundred thousand,
a thousand thousand—
and such thous and thousands
as drops in the Sicily sea,
as tips in the siderate sky—
upon those purpure chops
and swollen poor poutive lips
and eyelids half uttering
might I bear in continual impetus
o limpid Neaera!
But whilst I cling, here,
as limpet to rutile lips
as limpet to rosy chops, ellipses,
to eyelids half uttering,
a futile ellipsis is
my vision of your lips and rosy chops,
your eyelids half fluttering
with mollish laughters,
which (as Cynthius rips
cowled clouds from his rafters,
and clips at peace through aethers
on jewelsheathed steeds
beaming as a golden orb)
from afar with aureate will
my lachrymate chaps
and the plaints of my soul
and my sighs and my sickness collapse.

Oh, why were my ogles
born in battle with my lips?
Could I myself old Jove's
arrival match, eclipse?
My eyes as rivals
will not match my lips.

Et origo, in imitatione Catulli:

Centum basia centies,
centum basia millies,
mille basia millies,
et tot milia millies,
quot guttae Siculo mari,
quot sunt sidera caelo,
istis purpureis genis,
istis turgidulis labris,
ocellisque loquaculis,
ferrem continuo impetu,
o formosa Neaera!
Sed dum totus inhaereo
conchatim roseis genis,
conchatim rutilis labris,
ocellisque loquaculis,
non datur tua cernere
labra, non roseas genas,
ocellosque loquaculos,
molles nec mihi risus;
qui, velut nigra discutit
caelo nubila Cynthius,
pacatumque per aethera
gemmatis in equis micat,
flavo lucidus orbe,
sic nutu eminus aureo
et meis lacrimas genis,
et curas animo meo,
et suspiria pellunt.
Heu, quae sunt oculis meis
nata proelia cum labris?
Ergo ego mihi vel Iovem
rivalem potero pati?
Rivales oculi mei
non ferunt mea labra.


Raminagrobis said...

A very belated response, but I felt I had to tell you how brilliant I think this is.

The musicality of all those polysyllabic diminutives is so difficult to render into English, but you manage it well, I think. I especially liked ‘as drops in the Sicily sea,/as tips in the siderate sky’.

The play of ‘rutile lips’ into ‘futile ellipsis’ is lovely. It took me a while to work out the justification for that in the original, but it’s just about there – the ‘ellipsis’ being what the poet cannot see when he kisses…right? And then the echo in ‘eclipse’ in the closing lines: nice.

If I wanted to cavil I might observe that the diction is not quite right in places: the neo-Catullan style has a sort of simplicity (albeit highly contrived) that doesn’t quite match your pointedly Latinate English. But, as I say, I think you’ve done a wonderful job with the music of it and the delicately nuanced repetitions and verbal transformations.

Love your blog, by the way.

Conrad H. Roth said...

Merci beaucoup, mon cher Rabelaisien! And might I say, what a marvelous blog you have too, always a pleasure to discover a polymath, especially a British one; I have added it to my list and look forward to reading more.