Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Ovid, "Alcyone and Ceyx," Metamorphoses, trans. Arthur Golding

     Among a thousand sonnes and mo that father slomber had,
     He called up Morph the feynter of mannes shape, a crafty lad.
None other could so conningly expresse mans verrye face,
His gesture and his sound of voyce, and manner of his pace,
Toogither with his woonted weede, and woonted phrased of talk.
But this same Morphye onely in the shape of man dooth walk.
There is another who the shapes of beast or bird dooth take,
Or else appeereth untoo men in likeness of a snake.
The Goddes doo call him Icilos, and mortall folke him name
Phobetor. There is also yit a third who from theis same
Woorkes diversly, and Phantasos he highteth.    Intoo streames
This turnes himself, and intoo stones, and earth, and timber beames,
And intoo every other thing that wanteth life.     Theis three
Great kings and Capteines in the night are woonted for too see.
The meaner and inferiour sort of others haunted bee.
Sir Slomber overpast the rest, and of the brothers all
Too doo dame Iris message he did only Morphye call.
Which doone he waxing luskish, streyght layd downe his drowzy head
And softly shroonk his layzye limbes within his sluggish bed.
     Away flew Morphye through the aire :   no flickring made his wings :
     And came anon too Trachine.     There his fethers of he flings,
And in the shape of Ceyx standes before Alcyones bed,
Pale, wan, stark naakt, and like a man that was but lately deade.
His berde seemd wet, and of his head the heare was dropping drye,
And leaning on her bed, with teares he seemed thus too cry.
Most wretched woman knowest thou thy loving Ceyx now?
Or is my face by death disformd?  behold mee well, and thow
Shalt know mee.     For thy husband, thou thy husbandes Ghost shalt see.
No good thy prayers and thy vowes have done at all too mee.
For I am dead.     In vayne of my returne no reckning make.
The clowdy sowth amid the sea our shippe did tardy take,
And tossing it with violent blastes asunder did it shake.
And floodes have filld my mouth  which calld in vayne uppon thy name.
No persone whom thou mayst misdeeme brings tydings of the same,
Thou hearest not thereof by false report of flying fame:
But I myself :   I presently my shipwrecke too thee showe.
Arye therefore, and wofull teares uppon thy spouse bestowe.
Put moorning rayment on, and let mee not too Limbo go
Unmoorned for.     In shewing of this shipwrecke Morphye so
Did feyne the voyce of Ceyx, that shee could none other deeme,
But that it should bee his in deede. Moreover he did seeme
Too weepe in earnest :   and his handes the verry gesture had
Of Ceyx.     Queene Alcyone did grone, and beeing sad
Did stirre her armes, and thrust them foorth his body too embrace.
In stead whereof shee caught but ayre.     The teares ran downe her face.
She cryed, tarry :   whither flyste ?  toogither let us go.
And all this whyle she was a sleepe.     Both with her crying so,
And flayghted with the image of her husbands gastly spryght,
She started up :   and sought about if fynd him there shee myght.
(For why her Groomes awaking with the shreeke had brought a light).
And when shee no where could him fynd, shee gan her face too smyght,
And tare her nyghtclothes from her brest, and strake it feercely, and
Not passing too unty her heare she rent it with her hand.
And when her nurce of this her greef desyrde too understand
The cause: Alcoyne is undoone, undoone and cast away
With Ceyx her deare spouse (shee sayd).     Leave comforting I pray.
By shipwrecke he is perrisht :    I have seene him :   and I knew
His handes.     When in departing I too hold him did pursew,
I caught a Ghost :     but such a Ghost as well discerne I myght
Too bee my husbands.     Natheless he had not too my syght
His woonted countenance, neyther did his visage shyne so bryght,
As heeretoofore it had beene wont.     I saw him wretched wyght
Starke naked, pale, and with his heare still wet:   even verry heere
I saw him stand.     With that shee lookes if any print appeere
Of footing where as he did stand uppon the floore behynd.
This this is it that I did feare in farre forecasting mind,
When flying mee I thee desyrde thou should not trust the wynd.
But syth thou wenteth too thy death, I would that I had gone
With thee.     Ah meete, it meete had beene thou shouldst not go alone
Without mee.     So it should have come to passe that neyther I
Had overlived thee, nor yit beene forced twice to dye.
Already, absent in the waves now tossed have I bee.
Already have I perrished.     And yit the sea hath thee
Without mee.     But the cruelness was greater farre of me
Than of the sea, if after thy decease I still would strive
In sorrow and in anguish still too pyne away alive.
But neyther will I strive in care too lengthen still my lyfe,
Nor (wretched wyght) abandon thee :   but like a faythfull wyfe
At leastwyse now will come as thy companion.     And the herse
Shall joyne us, though not in the selfsame coffin :   yit in verse.
Although in tumb the bones of us toogither may not couch,
Yit in a graven Epitaph my name thy name shall touch.
Her sorrow would not suffer her too utter any more.
Shee sobd and syght at every woord, until her hart was sore.
     The morning came, and out shee went ryght pensif too the shore
     Too that same place in which shee tooke her leave of him before.
Whyle there shee musing stood, and sayd :   he kissed mee even heere,
Heere weyëd hee his Anchors up, heere loosd he from the peere,
And whyle shee calld too mynd the things there marked with her eyes :
In looking on the open sea, a great way of shee spyes
A certeine thing much like a corse come hovering on the wave.
At first shee dowted what it was.     As tyde it neerer drave,
Although it were a good way of, yit did it plainely showe
Too bee a corse.     And though that whose it was shee did not knowe,
Yit forbycause it seemd a wrecke, her hart therat did ryse:
And as it had sum straunger beene, with water in her eyes
Shee sayd: alas poore wretch who ere though art, alas for her
That is thy wyfe, if any bee.     And as the waves did stirre,
The body floted neerer land :   the which the more that shee
Behilld, the lesse began in her of stayed wit too bee.
Anon it did arrive on shore.     Then plainely shee did see
And know it, that it was her feere.     Shee shreeked, it is hee.
And therewithall her face, her heare, and garments shee did teare,
And untoo Ceyx stretching out her trembling handes with feare,
Sayd :   cumst thou home in such a plyght too me O husband deere?
Returnst in such a wretched plyght?   There was a certeine peere
That buylded was by hand, of waves the first assaults too breake,
And at the havons mouth too cause the tyde too enter weake.
She lept theron.     (A wonder sure it was shee could doo so)
She flew, and with her newgrowen winges did beate the ayre as tho.
And on the waves a wretched bird shee whisked too and fro.
And with her crocking neb then growen too slender bill and round,
Like one that wayld and moorned still shee made a moaning sound.
Howbeet as soone as shee did touch his dumb and bloodlesse flesh,
And had embraast his loved limbes with winges made new and fresh,
And with her hardened neb had kist him coldly, though in vayne,
Folk dowt if Ceyx feeling it too rayse his head up strayne,
Or whither that the waves did lift it up.     But surely hee
It felt :   and through compassion of the Goddes both hee and shee
Were turned too birdes.     The love of them eeke subject too their fate,
Continued after :   neyther did the faythfull bond abate
Of wedlocke in them beeing birdes :   but standes in stedfast state.
They treade, and lay, and bring foorth yoong and now the * Alcyon sitts
In wintertime uppon her nest (which on the water flitts
A sevennyght.     During all which tyme the sea is calme and still,
And every man may too and fro sayle saufly at his will.

1 comment:

  1. Ezra Pound (1918): "Our only measure of truth is... our own perception of truth. The undeniable tradition of metamorphosis teaches us that things do not remain always the same. They become other things by swift and unanalysable process. It was only when men began to mistrust the myths and tell nasty lies about the Gods for a moral purpose that these matters became hopelessly confused."