John Donne, ‘Daybreak’ (Latin Sapphics)


Stay, O sweet, and do not rise;

The light that shines comes from thine eyes;

The day breaks not, it is my heart,

Because that you and I must part.

Stay, or else my joys will die,

And perish in their infancy.


hoc, Chloe (non iam tibi enim propinquat

hora surgendi!) maneas cubili;

ipsa dant claram tua, quae refulget,

lumina lucem;


reddita Aurora, mihi – vae! – fugatur

tota, cum stellis, misero voluptas

corde, complexu quia sol amantem a-

vellit amantis.


ne mihi laetum moriatur omne,

permane tandem; patiere nostra

ocius maesteque obeant iniquo

gaudia leto?


An original composition in the metre of Horace Odes 1.28 (with English verse translation)


aeternam referunt omnes, o Flacce, manere

noctem homines, nec funeris horam

fallere magnanimos reges; at te, puto, versu

non omnem iactas moriturum!

dic igitur, clari pars o quaecumque poetae

saevam vitasti Libitinam,

quid tua Musa velit, quae sit sententia doctis

carminibus, cur Pythagorea

somnia commemores; liceat cognoscere litus

quaeramus qua parte Matinum!


They say, dear Flaccus, that all men

Eternal night awaits;

That mighty kings cannot survive

Their own appointed dates.

Yet you once boasted in your poems

You would not die entire –

So say, whichever part of you

Escaped the infernal fire,

What do your verses mean? Why spout

Pythagorean lore?

And tell us, pray, where we can find

This unknown Matine shore!

Sarah Palin endorsing Donald Trump, rendered in Greek iambics


When asked why I would jump into a primary – kind of stirring it up a little bit maybe – and choose one over some friends who are running and I’ve endorsed a couple others in their races before they decided to run for president, I was told left and right, ‘you are going to get so clobbered in the press. You are just going to get beat up, and chewed up, and spit out.’ You know, I’m thinking, ‘and?’ You know, like you guys haven’t tried to do that every day since that night in ’08, when I was on stage nominated for VP, and I got to say, ‘yeah, I’ll go, send me, you betcha. I’ll serve.’


τί δ’ ἐμπλέκεσθαι τῇδε χρῆν ἀγωνίᾳ
ἅπαντα πράγματ’ ὧστε σείεσθαι μάλα;
πειρωμένων γὰρ πλεῖστα τῶν ἐμῶν φίλων,
ἐξειλόμεσθα τόνδε, τοῖς ἄλλοις πάρος
μάχης πρὸ ταύτης ἣ παραστάτης ἔφυν.
καὶ πάντοθέν μοι τούσδ’ ἐφώνησαν λόγους•
“γύναι ματαία, διαβολὰς κακὰς κακοί
βαλοῦσιν ἀστοὶ φλαῦρον ἐς τὸ σὸν κάρα,
πλῆξαι θέλοντες καὶ σ᾽ ἀποπτύσαι πάνυ”.
τί θαῦμα ταῦτα; τῶδε γὰρ καθ᾽ ἡμέραν
κακῶς λέγουσι μ᾽ ἐξ ὅτου γ’ ἔστην τότε
μεγάλην ἔχουσα τῆς πόλεως τίμην ἐγώ
καὶ ταῦθ’ ὑπεῖπον • “ὦ τανῦν με πέμψατε
ἐκεῖ, πολῖται, τοῖς ἑκοῦσ’ ὑπηρετῶ.”

An original Pindaric Ode written after the London 2012 Olympics (dactylo-epitrite)


The ode


ὦ φλόξ ἀείζως ἅν ποτ᾽ ἔδωκε βροτοῖς

καὶ Διὸς οὐκ ἐθέλοντος Ἰαπέτοιο παΐς,

οὔκετ᾽ ἐν ἁμετέροις λάμπεις πολίταις

ἄρτι τάνδε νᾶσον εὔαθλον προλιποῖσα πάλιν ·

ἔκγονος μὲν πᾶς τις Ὑπερβορέων δερκόμενος γάθησε

θαυμαστοὺς ἀγῶνας,

οἱ δὲ νικάσαντες εὑρίσκοντο τιμάν

χρυσέαν ποινὰν ἀπενεγκόμενοι.



εἰ γὰρ παρείης, Πίνδαρε σεμνοτάτοις

ᾧπερ ἄεθλα πάλαι πόνος κελαδεῖν μέλεσιν

ἔπλετ᾽, ἰοπλοκάμους τ᾽ ἀσκεῖν γε Μοῖσας.

νῦν δὲ χειρὶ χρυσέαν φόρμιγγα λαβεῖν καὶ ἐμέ

καίπερ ἀπείρῳ πρέπει ἁρμονίας Αἰολιδᾶν, δόξαν τε

σὰν αὐτὸν ματεύειν ·

καὶ γὰρ ἔν μέτροισι τοῖσδ᾽ αὔχημ᾽ ἀείδω

καινὸν ἀρχαίοισιν ἀγαλλόμενος,



ὅσσαι ἐς θεῶν νεόδματοι σταδίων κορυφαί,

ἄστεως δάμῳ πρὸς Ἀῶ,

ὄλβιον ἀθανάτων δῶμα τέτανται,

πλεῖστοι ὄθι δράκον ἢ θρῴσκοντας ἢ τρέχοντας

ἢ κραιπνοὺς ἐσιόντας ὕδωρ.

νῦν κενεοὶ­­­ θῶκοι θεατᾶν, ἀλλά τι λαῷ παρμένει

εὐφροσύνας ·

αἰεὶ δ᾽ ἁμιλλᾶν ἐξοπίσω μνάμα φερέτω

φιλᾷ πολυκλειτᾶν μέγα χάρμα πάτρᾳ.




Metrical analysis


[Metre: dactylo-epitrite]


d1   – U U –

D   – U U – U U –

e    – U –

E    – U – X – U –

E2  – U – X – U – X – U –




– e – D


D – e –

E – D

e U D d1 – E


e – D




E – D

E –

D d1

D – E – D

d1 – d1 d1 – D

– e – d1 – d1

U e – D





Literal translation


O everlasting flame, which Iapetus’ son once gave to mortals, even against Zeus’ will, you no longer shine among our citizens, having recently departed this island once more: every descendant of the Hyperboreans rejoiced when they beheld the wondrous contests, while those who were victorious received honour, carrying off their golden reward.


If only you were by my side, Pindar whose labour it was to celebrate athletic games in most august songs, and to worship the dark-locked Muses. Now it is time for me too to take up the golden lyre in my hand, though it is unused to Aeolic music, and to seek your glory for myself: for I sing, glorifying a modern achievement in these ancient measures,


Of what great stadia with newly built rooves, in the eastern district of our city, stretch up to the blessed abode of the immortal gods, where so many people watched either jumpers or runners or men diving swiftly into the water. Now the seats are devoid of spectators, but among the people some festive happiness remains: in the future may the memory of these far-famed contests always be a source of great joy for our dear fatherland.





John Donne,’The Good-Morrow’ (Latin elegiacs)


I wonder, by my troth, what thou and I

Did, till we loved? Were we not weaned till then?

But sucked on country pleasures, childishly?

Or snorted we in the Seven Sleepers’ den?

’Twas so; but this, all pleasures fancies be.

If ever any beauty I did see,

Which I desired, and got, ’twas but a dream of thee.


And now good-morrow to our waking souls,

Which watch not one another out of fear;

For love, all love of other sights controls,

And makes one little room an everywhere.

Let sea-discoverers to new worlds have gone,

Let maps to other, worlds on worlds have shown,

Let us possess one world, each hath one, and is one.


My face in thine eye, thine in mine appears,

And true plain hearts do in the faces rest;

Where can we find two better hemispheres,

Without sharp north, without declining west?

Whatever dies, was not mixed equally;

If our two loves be one, or, thou and I

Love so alike, that none do slacken, none can die.


dic age, quid pepulit, quid nos exercuit ante

quam mihi quamque tibi pectora fixit amor?

nos velut infantes fructus nutribat agrestis

materno suetos munere lactis ali?

membra vel aeterno iacuere inhumata sopore?

quidquid erat laeti motus inanis erat.

nam mihi si prius est visa et comperta venustas

somnia tunc formae sunt modo visa tuae.

iam salvete animi: vigiles se mane tuentur

horribili nullo nos agitante metu;

non cupit ullus amans externos quaerere visus:

vertitur in vastam parvula cella plagam.

trans fluctus aliis incognita terra petatur

ac tabulis tellus sit patefacta nova.

hoc tantum satis est, unum contingere mundum:

tu mihi sis mundus; sim tibi mundus ego.

en tuus in nostris apparet vultus ocellis;

en facies oculo nostra videnda tuo est;

alterius species dum ardescit uterque tuendo

concordes animi pectore utrique manent.

quae regio in terris meliorem continet axem?

a valeant Boreas occiduusque dies!

vitam si quando mortalia corpora linquunt

haec, puto, non aequo mixta fuere modo;

nos age coniuncto socio cogamur amore:*

iam neque divelli nec licet usque mori.

*sugg. Kwasi Kwarteng (cf. Prop. 1.5.29)

Tennyson,’In Memoriam’ (Latin hexameters)


Fair ship that from the Italian shore
Sailest the placid ocean-plains
With my lost Arthur’s loved remains,
Spread thy full wings, and waft him o’er.

So draw him home to those that mourn
In vain; a favourable speed
Ruffle thy mirror’d mast, and lead
Thro’ prosperous floods his holy urn.

All night no ruder air perplex
Thy sliding keel, till Phosphor, bright
As our pure love, thro’ early light
Shall glimmer on the dewy decks.

Sphere all your lights around, above;
Sleep gentle heavens, before the prow;
Sleep, gentle winds, as he sleeps now,
My friend, the brother of my love;

My Arthur, whom I shall not see
Till all my widow’d race be run;
Dear as the mother to the son,
More than my brothers are to me.


tu quae semotis properas, bona navis, ab oris
Italiae vasti tranquilla per aequora ponti,
hunc mihi, vela deo ventis implente secundis,
advehe et amissi dilectum corpus amici –
heu! – referens, leni duc nostra ad litora cursu.
redde ad nos igitur, tristis quos cura fatigat,
vana tamen, malique tui turbetur imago
reddita Neptuno, barcam quoniam impiger urget
impetus atque urnam fert per vada prospera sanctam.
aspera nulla tuam labentem flabra carinam
nocte premant tota, primo dum Lucifer albus
(qui, puto, par puro nostrum fulgebit amori)
protinus umentes perfundet lumine puppes.
undique in orbe poli spargentes sidera, caeli
dormite o placidi, dormite Eurique Notique
ante ratem, ritu comitis qui dormiet usque,
quemque ego dilexi* fraterno semper amore.
ei mihi, non ego te fatis dum fungar ademptum
conspiciam, vitae metas dum denique tangam.
care mihi, qualis genetrix carissima nato,
tu consanguineis germanis carior ipsis.


*Amended (see comments)

Shakespeare, ‘Macbeth’ (Greek trimeters)


We have scorched the snake, not killed it.

She’ll close and be herself whilst our poor malice

Remains in danger of her former tooth.

But let the frame of things disjoint, both the worlds suffer,
Ere we will eat our meal in fear, and sleep

In the affliction of these terrible dreams

That shake us nightly.


τρώσαντες ὕδραν οὔ τί πω καθείλομεν.

κείνῃ μέν ἐστι τοῦ μεταστάσῃ βλάβους

αὑτῆς γενέσθαι, νῷν δε κίνδυνος βαρύς

ἐχθροῖν ἐτ᾽ ὄντοιν τοῖς ὀδοῦσιν ἐμμενεῖ.

πρὶν δ᾽αὖ θέλοιμ᾽ ἂν ἡλίου περιπτυχὰς

διαφθαρῆναι, παντελῶς δὲ τούς τ᾽ἄνω

καὶ τοὺς κάτωθεν ἐξαλείφεσθαι θεούς,

ἢ νὼ τρέμοντε σχετλίῳ δειπνεῖν ὄκνῳ

καὶ συγκαθεύδειν τοῖς κακοῖς ὀνείρασιν

τοῖς νυκτιφάντοις, οἷσιν ἀγριούμεθα.