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.

Robert Southey, “My Days among the Dead are Past” (Latin elegiacs)


My days among the Dead are past;

Around me I behold,

Where’er these casual eyes are cast,

The mighty minds of old;

My never-failing friends are they,

With whom I converse day by day.


With them I take delight in weal,

And seek relief in woe;

And while I understand and feel

How much to them I owe,

My cheeks have often been bedew’d

With tears of thoughtful gratitude.



totum ego defunctis agito comitantibus aevum –

sic spatium vitae degitur omne meae;

ingenium prae me, quovis mea lumina volvam,

famaque priscorum cernitur, ecce, virum;

semper amicitia constant: sermonibus illos

me libet in longos detinuisse dies.

nam mihi dum rebus laetor florentibus adsunt,

solor et adverso dum mea fata deo;

meque ego defunctis multum debere fatebor –

haec, bene nota, mea mente reposta manent;

saepe meas lacrimis, mecum dum talia verso,

percipies gratas immaduisse genas.

Robert Burns, “A Red, Red Rose” (Greek Sapphics)


O my Luve is like a red, red rose

That’s newly sprung in June;

O my Luve is like the melody

That’s sweetly played in tune.


So fair art thou, my bonnie lass,

So deep in luve am I;

And I will luve thee still, my dear,

Till a’ the seas gang dry.



ἰκέλα βρόδωι φιλότας ἐρύθρωι

ἔστ᾽ ἔμα βλάστοντι χρόνωι θερείωι,

ἰκέλα δὲ καὶ κιθάρας ἀοίδαι



ὄσσον ἔν σοι κάλλος, ἔμον μέλημα,

μαινόλαι τόσσον σε φίλημμ᾽ ἔρωτι,

καὶ φιλήσω σ᾽ ἔστε κ᾽ ὔδωρ θαλάσσαι

μῆδεν ἔτ᾽ ἦισι.

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?