Thursday, February 25, 2021

the unjust anger of Juno

 But now the plague, grown to a larger size,
Riots on Man, and scorns a meaner prize.
Intestine heats begin the civil war,
And flushings first the latent flame declare,
And breath inspir'd, which seem'd like fiery air.
Their black dry tongues are swell'd, and scarce can move,
And short thick sighs from panting lung are drove.
They gape for air, with flatt'ring hopes t' abate
Their raging flames, but that augments their heat.
No bed, no cov'ring can the wretches bear,
But on the ground, expos'd to open air,
They lye, and hope to find a pleasing coolness there.
The suff'ring Earth with that oppression curst,
Returns the heat which they imparted first.

In vain physicians would bestow their aid,
Vain all their art, and useless all their trade;
And they, ev'n they, who fleeting life recall,
Feel the same Pow'rs, and undistinguish'd fall.
If any proves so daring to attend
His sick companion, or his darling friend,
Th' officious wretch sucks in contagious breath,
And with his friend does sympathize in death.

And now the care and hopes of life are past,
They please their fancies, and indulge their taste;
At brooks and streams, regardless of their shame,
Each sex, promiscuous, strives to quench their flame;
Nor do they strive in vain to quench it there,
For thirst, and life at once extinguish'd are.
Thus in the brooks the dying bodies sink,
But heedless still the rash survivors drink.

So much uneasy down the wretches hate,
They fly their beds, to struggle with their fate;
But if decaying strength forbids to rise,
The victim crawls and rouls, 'till on the ground he lies.
Each shuns his bed, as each wou'd shun his tomb,
And thinks th' infection only lodg'd at vhome.

Here one, with fainting steps, does slowly creep
O'er heaps of dead, and strait augments the heap;
Another, while his strength and tongue prevail'd,
Bewails his friend, and falls himself bewail'd:
This with imploring looks surveys the skies,
The last dear office of his closing eyes,
But finds the Heav'ns implacable, and dies.

Everyone's re-reading--for obvious reasons--Camus' novel about the physician in Oman, but I ran across the above in Book VII of Ovid's Metamorphoses. The above translation is by "Sir Samuel Garth, John Dryden, et al" according to M.I.T.'s Internet Classics Archive. I'm actually reading David Raeburn’s modern verse translation (2016), which is okay if not brilliant. A bit breezy and unpoetical for my taste. I may look for something I like better to read in a couple of years. Ovid is fantastic stuff. I read some of this when I was much younger, but never the whole thing. Sometime this summer, I'll be reading Emily Wilson's new translation of the Odyssey, which is supposed to be pretty good. I last read the Odyssey about fifteen years ago, in the well-known 1967 translation by Albert Cook. Blah blah blah.