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OUR IVY ODE REDISCOVERED ... IN TRANSLATION

THE ODE

By Richard Doeblin

Cur pro nobis gaudeam?
Cur seramus hederam?
Pulchra pueritia
in hortulo sub tilia
iam ludebat: diuturnum
monstrat nobis aevum nullum
fata nunc quae nova fila
candida deducunt, pulla.

Caudam pictam explicat
pavo, vias indicat
quae per prata, silvas tendunt,
saepe lapsanas attingunt,
raro currunt sed ad fontes
sapientem recreantes:
fontes fluunt nam in horto
gaudiorum nominato.

Clarus dies haud est colax,
sed mens nobis manet fallax.
Quis me amat? Quid est verum?
Quis est ita compos rerum
possit ut spectare verum?
Parvi refert: nam est vinum,
cantus dulcis avium,
et praesertim basium.

Canis latrat sed sub luna;
regnat super non Fortuna;
vinum, sanguis iam colores
perdunt amor ut calores.
Vivis vae in nebula,
volvis vae ut rotula
tibi durus et amicis
tu ignobilis et vilis.

Candida deducunt pulla
Parcae mense maio fila.
Praediti etiam summa spe
cadent multi hodie.
Nunc seramus hederam
hortulo in quo gaudeam,
in quo non mortalia
vera est amicitia.


Ivy Ode
Translated by Judith Hallett * - 2012

Why am I to rejoice for us?
Why are we to plant the ivy?
The beautiful age of young men
in a garden under the lime
already disported itself:
The fates show us no long-lived age,
which now are spinning out new threads,
gleaming white and gloomily dark.

The peacock unfolds his hued tail,
He reveals the paths which extend
through the meadows, through the forests,
and often reach the nipplewort,
but they seldom run to the springs
refreshing to him who is wise;
For the springs are flowing in what
has been named the garden of joys.

The bright day is no flatterer,
but our mind remains deceitful.
Who cherishes me? What is true?
Who is so in control of things
that he can look at what is true?
It matters little, for there is wine,
the sweet singing sounds of the birds,
and particularly the kiss.

The dog barks but under the moon,
Fortune holds her sway over us;
Wine and blood now lose their colors
just as love loses hot passions.
Alas, you are living in a fog.
Alas you turn like a small wheel.
Harsh on yourself and to your friends,
you are of low birth and worthless.

The fates spin out, bright white and dark
threads in the springtime month of May.
Still endowed with the highest hope,
many men will tumble today.
So let us now plant the ivy
in the garden where I rejoice,
where that which is not mortal
is friendship, genuine friendship.



* Hallett, a Wellesley graduate with a PhD in Classics from Harvard, is an eminent American classicist who is professor of Classics at the University of Maryland. She has been a frequent consultant to public television and the History Channel A&E. For more on her, click here.


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