Tennyson, ‘The Eagle’ (Latin alcaics)


He clasps the crag with crooked hands;
Close to the sun in lonely lands,
Ring’d with the azure world, he stands.

The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;
He watches from his mountain walls,
And like a thunderbolt he falls.


rupem retortis sedula corripit
hamis et ipsi proxima sideri
sublimis in tellure vasta,
caeruleo redimita mundo

consistit. infra, fluctibus aequora
rugosa serpunt; illa cacumine
de montis exspectans superno
fulminei cadit instar ictus.

Milton, ‘Methought I saw my late espoused saint’ (Sonnet 23) (Latin hexameters)


Methought I saw my late espoused saint
Brought to me, like Alcestis, from the grave,
Whom Jove’s great son to her glad husband gave,
Rescu’d from death by force, though pale and faint.
Mine, as whom wash’d from spot of child-bed taint
Purification in the old Law did save,
And such as yet once more I trust to have
Full sight of her in Heaven without restraint,
Came vested all in white, pure as her mind;
Her face was veil’d, yet to my fancied sight
Love, sweetness, goodness, in her person shin’d
So clear as in no face with more delight.
But Oh! as to embrace me she inclin’d,
I wak’d, she fled, and day brought back my night.


visa mihi, rebar, superis carissima coniunx
uxor ut Admeti, misero resoluta sepulcro,
Herculeis laeto manibus donata marito,
debilis ac pallens magna at vi morte relata.
visa mihi qualis maculata puerpera labe
flumine quam puro prisco de more sacerdos
abluit, et qualem caelis ego rursus aperte
conspiciam, ut credo, nulloque obstante videbo.
pura velut sua mens, alba circumdata veste,
venit; operta genas, vana sed imagine luso
fulsit amor, fulsit virtus mihi dulcis in illa
splendidiusque omnique alio felicius ore.
at simul incumbit collo dare bracchia circum, –
heu! – simul excutior somno; fugit illa, diesque
regrediens atram revehit mihi lampade noctem.

Shakespeare, ‘Romeo & Juliet’, Act I scene I (Greek iambics)


Many a morning hath he there been seen,
With tears augmenting the fresh morning’s dew,
Adding to clouds more clouds with his deep sighs.
But all so soon as the all-cheering sun
Should in the farthest east begin to draw
The shady curtains from Aurora’s bed,
Away from light steals home my heavy son,
And private in his chamber pens himself,
Shuts up his windows, locks fair daylight out,
And makes himself an artificial night.


καὶ γὰρ δι᾽ ὄρθρων πολλὰ δὴ γιγώσκεται
πυκνοῖς ὀφέλλων δακρύοις νέαν δρόσον
στενάγμασιν δὲ νέφεσι προσφέρων νέφη.
εὔφρων δὲ Φοῖβος ὡς τόποις ἀντηλίοις
Ἕω πετάσματ᾽ ἐκδύει θεοῦ λέχος,
λαθὼν πρὸς οἶκον ἡλίου φέγγους ἄπο
δύσθυμος ἕρπων παῖς ἐμὸς δέμας κρυφῇ
ἰδίῳ καθείργει μοῦνος εὐνατηρίῳ,
θυρίδας δὲ κλῄων, λαμπάδ᾽ ὥστε μὴ περᾶν,
πλαστὴν ἑαυτῷ νύκτα τεχνᾶται σκότῳ.

The Beatles, ‘Hey Jude’ (Latin third asclepiads)


Hey Jude, don’t make it bad
Take a sad song and make it better
Remember to let her into your heart
Then you can start to make it better

Hey Jude, don’t be afraid
You were made to go out and get her
The minute you let her under your skin
Then you begin to make it better

And anytime you feel the pain, hey Jude, refrain
Don’t carry the world upon your shoulders


tu ne reddideris omne malum, precor,
Iuli; tu numeris quod datur asperis
lamentabile fingens
carmen dulcius effice.

cedendum est! opus est hanc tua perpeti
dilectam penitus cogere pectora:
sic lugubre licebit
tandem reddere gratius

fatum. parce metu: fas tibi vincere
qua flagras: ubi te tradideris tuae,
tunc Fortuna sequetur
primum te dea lenior.

ut te cumque premat cura, laboribus
solvaris miseris; neve umeris, puer,
temptes instar Atlantis
orbem ferre tuis gravem.

Vergil, Aeneid VII, lines 293-298 (Greek hexameters)


“heu stirpem invisam et fatis contraria nostris
fata Phrygum! num Sigeis occumbere campis,
num capti potuere capi? num incensa cremavit
Troia viros? medias acies mediosque per ignis
invenere viam. at, credo, mea numina tandem
fessa iacent, odiis aut exsaturata quievi.”


“ὤ μοι πᾶν στυγερὸν Πριάμου γένος, ᾧ πάλαι αἴσῃ
πέπρωται βουλῇσιν ἐμῇς πολεμίζεμεν ἄντην.
οὐδὲ γὰρ ἐν πεδίοις Τρῶες πέσον Ιλιακοῖσι
πάντες γ᾽, οὐδ᾽ ἄρ’ ἁλόντες ἁλώμεναι αὖτις ἔμελλον,
οὐδὲ πυρὶ πληγὲν πάντας κατέκηε καὶ ἄνδρας
Ἴλιον, οἳ περὶ πῦρ τε φύγον καὶ μῶλον Ἄρηος.
ἀλλά που ἡμετέρη δύναμις κέκμηκε θεείη
νῦν τέλος, ἢ δεινοῦ κεκορημένη ἔχθεος ἧμαι.”

John Donne, ‘Lovers’ Infiniteness’ (Latin Sapphics)


If yet I have not all thy love,
Dear, I shall never have it all;
I cannot breathe one other sigh, to move,
Nor can intreat one other tear to fall;
And all my treasure, which should purchase thee—
Sighs, tears, and oaths, and letters—I have spent.
Yet no more can be due to me,
Than at the bargain made was meant;
If then thy gift of love were partial,
That some to me, some should to others fall,
Dear, I shall never have thee all.


usque si totum patiere nondum
me tuum iam nunc tenuisse amorem,
dehinc parum credam mihi posse totum,
cara, teneri.

non datur fessis alios ab imo
corde iam nobis gemitus ciere;
non genas nostro magis una tinget
lacrima iussu;

ille thesaurus redimenda quo tu
quondam eras – fletus gemitusque maeste
redditi et chartae, quod et ipse amatae
jurat amator –

haustus. at plurem vetitum est amoris
debeas summam mihi quam libenter
tradere optabas ubi foedus ante
fecimus ambo.

pars mihi sed pars aliis amoris
si tui semper tribuenda restat
te parum spero mihi posse totam,
cara, teneri.

Wordsworth, “London, 1802” (Latin hexameters)


Milton! thou shouldst be living at this hour:

England hath need of thee: she is a fen

Of stagnant waters: altar, sword, and pen,

Fireside, the heroic wealth of hall and bower,

Have forfeited their ancient English dower

Of inward happiness. We are selfish men;

Oh! raise us up, return to us again;

And give us manners, virtue, freedom, power.



o utinam nostro liceat tibi tempore vitam

ducere, magne Maro: tellus te namque requirit

Romula, quae iam iam stagnata paludibus umet.

non arae, nec Martis opus, nec carmina vatum,

nec focus, egregiis nec nunc insignia prosunt

atria divitiis, nec terra uberrima fructu,

qualia dos atavis stabant laetissima nostris.

regrediare, Maro, diraque cupidine mersos

tolle age Romanos; moremque fidemque redona;

libertas per te redeatque potentia nostra.


Blake, “Song: Memory, hither come” (Latin alcaics)


Memory, hither come,

         And tune your merry notes;

And, while upon the wind,

         Your music floats,

I’ll pore upon the stream,

         Where sighing lovers dream,

And fish for fancies as they pass

         Within the watery glass.



descende caelo et, Mnemosyne, mihi

praesens beatos, diva, cie modos;

   carmenque dum grate secundas

      dulce tuum resonat per auras,


fontem tuebor tristis amans ubi

suspirat igni; praetereuntia

   de more piscatoris unda

      somnia ego vitrea requiram.

Shakespeare, “Julius Caesar” (Greek iambics)


I have seen tempests, when the scolding winds
Have rived the knotty oaks, and I have seen
The ambitious ocean swell and rage and foam,
To be exalted with the threatening clouds:
But never till to-night, never till now,
Did I go through a tempest dropping fire.
Either there is a civil strife in heaven,
Or else the world, too saucy with the gods,
Incenses them to send destruction.



πρῖν μὲν γὰρ αὐτός, ὡς κακὸς τυφῶ κακοῦ

χειμὼν ὄρωρεν, εἶδον ὀξείαις πνοαῖς

φηγοὺς παλαιὰς κεροτυπουμένας βίᾳ,

εἶδον δὲ θούρῳ νῶτα κυμαίνονθ᾽ ἁλὸς

ἀφρῷ, κνεφαίοις νέφεσιν ἐξισούμενα.

ἀλλ᾽ οὔποτ᾽  οὔποτ᾽ ἐς τόδ᾽ ἡμέρας πρὸ τοῦ

χειμῶν᾽ ἐπῆλθον οἷος ἀνθ᾽ ὄμβρου φλόγα

ἐκχεῖ πυρωπήν. ἤ τις, ὡς ἐγὼ δοκῶ,

Ολυμπίοισι τεύχεται θεοῖς στάσις

ἢ καὶ βροτείους, οὔνεκ᾽ οὐ κατ᾽ ἀξίαν

θεοὺς σέβουσι, Ζεὺς διόλλυσιν χόλῳ.

Shelley, “Adonais” (Latin hexameters)



Ah, woe is me! Winter is come and gone,

But grief returns with the revolving year;

The airs and streams renew their joyous tone;

The ants, the bees, the swallows reappear;

Fresh leaves and flowers deck the dead Seasons’ bier;

The amorous birds now pair in every brake,

And build their mossy homes in field and brere;

And the green lizard, and the golden snake,

Like unimprison’d flames, out of their trance awake.



ei mihi! venit hiems, hiemem ver mite vicissim

expulit, ast anno luctus volvente recurrit;

hic, sonitus iterum felices – ecce – resumunt

flatusque fluviique; illic formica videtur

rursus, apisque levis, caelumque revisit hirundo.

frons nova praeteriti cingit cum flore feretrum

temporis hiberni; dumo sociantur in omni

iam volucres teneri, muscosaque tecta per agros

aedificare parant avidi densisve salictis.

et somno, veluti resolutae e carcere flammae,

aureus excutitur serpens viridisque lacerta.