|Line By Line: Comparing recent translations of the 'Aeneid.'|
Arms and the man I sing of Troy, who first from its seashores,
Italy-bound, fate's refugee, arrived at Lavinia's Coastlands.
How he was battered about over land, over high deep
Seas by the powers above!
I sing of warfare and a man at war.
From the sea-coast of Troy in early days
He came to Italy by destiny,
To our Lavinian western shore,
A fugitive, this captain, buffeted
Cruelly on land as on the sea
By blows from powers of the air
Wars and a man I sing — an exile driven on by Fate,
he was the first to flee the coast of Troy
destined to reach Lavinian shores and Italian soil
yet many blows he took on land and sea from the gods above —
While he was speaking, he pounced on the quivering Priam,
Dragged the king, slipping in pools of his own son's blood, to the altar,
Grabbed his hair, yanked back his head with his left, with his right drew his gleaming
Sword which he then buried up to the hilt in the flank of the old king
With this, to the altar step itself he dragged him trembling,
Slipping in the pooled blood of his son,
And took him by the hair with his left hand.
The sword flashed in his right; up to the hilt
He thrust it in his body.
That said, he drags the old man straight to the altar, quaking, slithering on through
slicks of his son's blood, and twisting Priam's hair
in his left hand, his right hand sweeping forth his sword —
a flash of steel — he buries it hiltdeep in the king's flank.
Now, though, he's sloughed off his old skin, he's reborn to youth's colourful brilliance
Coiling his slippery back, he lifts breast and head high to the sunlight,
Darts forked tongue from his mouth, flashes brightly in flickering menace.
Sprang Pyrrhus, all in bronze and glittering,
As a serpent, hidden swollen underground
By a cold winter, writhes into the light,
On vile grass fed, his old skin cast away,
Renewed and glossy, rolling slippery coils,
With lifted underbelly rearing sunward
And triple tongue a-flicker.
A flash in his shimmering brazen sheath like a snake
buried the whole winter long under frozen turf
swollen to bursting, fed full on poisonous weeds
and now it springs into light, sloughing its old skin
to glisten sleek in its newfound youth, its back slithering,
coiling, its proud chest rearing high to the sun,
its triple tongue flickering through its fangs.
Fast on her feet, and provided with wings of astonishing power,
Huge and horrendous, a monster whose body conceals beneath feathers
Just the same number of spying eyes (a remarkable feature),
Just the same number of tongues, and of mouths, and of ears pricked to eavesdrop,
Flying at night between heaven and earth, she screeches through darkness,
Nor does she grant any sweetness of sleep to her eyes ever searching.
Giving her speed on foot and on the wing:
Monstrous, deformed, titanic. Pinioned, with
An eye beneath for every body feather,
And, strange to say, as many tongues and buzzing
Mouths as eyes, as many prickedup ears,
By night she flies through darkness, and she never turns
Her eye-lids down to sleep.
Rumor, quicksilver afoot and swift on the wing, a monster, horrific, huge
and under every feather on her body — what a marvel —
an eye that never sleeps and as many tongues as eyes
and as many raucous mouths and ears pricked up for news.
By night she flies aloft, between the earth and sky,
whirring across the dark, never closing her lids
in soothing sleep.
Compiled by Charlotte Cowles