Archive for June 1st, 2019

Saturday, 1 June 2019

The Tavern Dancing Girl by Unknown

See the Syrian girl, her tresses with the Greek tiara bound,
Skill’d to strike the castanets, and foot it to their merry sound,
Through the tavern’s reeky chamber, with her cheeks all flush’d with wine,
Strikes the rattling reeds, and dances, while around the guests recline.
“Wherefore thus, footsore and weary, plod through summer’s dust and heat?
Better o’er the wine to linger, laid in yonder cool retreat!
There are casks, and cans, and goblets,—roses, fifes, and lutes are there,—
Shady walks, where arching branches cool for us the sultry air.
There, from some Mænalian grotto, all unseen, some rustic maid
Pipes her shepherd notes, that babble sweetly through the listening glade.
There, in cask pitch’d newly over, is a vintage clear and strong;
There, among the trees, a brooklet brawls with murmurs hoarse along;
There be garlands, where the violet, mingling with the crocus, blows,
Chaplets of the saffron twining through the blushes of the rose;
Lilies, too, which Acheloës shall in wicker baskets bring,
Lilies fresh and sparkling, newly dipped within some virgin spring.
There are little cheeses also, dried between the verdant rushes,
Yellow plums, the bloom upon them, which they took from Autumn’s blushes,
Chestnuts, apples ripe and rosy, cakes which Ceres might applaud;
Here, too, dwelleth gentle Amor; here is Bacchus, jovial god!
Blood-red mulberries, and clusters of the trailing vine between,
Rush-bound cucumbers are there, too, with their sides of bloomy green.
There, too, stands the cottage-guardian, in his hand a willow-hook,
But he bears no other weapon: maidens unabash’d may look.
Come, my Alibida, hither! See! your ass is fairly beat!
Spare him, as I know you love him. How he’s panting with the heat!
Now from brake and bush is shrilling the cicada’s piercing note;
E’en the lizard now is hiding in some shady nook remote.
Lay ye down!—to pause were folly—by the glassy fountain’s brink,
Cool your goblet in the crystal, cool it ever, ere you drink.
Come, and let your wearied body ‘neath the shady vine repose,
Come, and bind your languid temples with a chaplet of the rose!
Come, and ye shall gather kisses from the lips of yon fair girl;
He, whose forehead ne’er relaxes, ne’er looks smiling, is a churl!
Why should we reserve these fragrant garlands for the thankless dust?
Would ye that their sweets were gather’d for the monumental bust?
Wine there!—wine and dice!—To-morrow’s fears shall fools alone benumb.
By the ear Death pulls me. “Live!” he whispers softly. “Live! I come!”

From: Martin, Theodore, Poems; Original and Translated, 1863: Printed for Private Circulation: London, pp. 320-322.

Date: 1st century BCE (original in Latin); 1863 (translation in English

By: Unknown

Translated by: Theodore Martin (1816-1909)