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Sonnetto Poesia Vol 3 no 3 2004
Samuel Taylor Coleridge, "Ad Lyram"
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Samuel Taylor Coleridge, "Ad Lyram"


Blind Muse, early 20th. Cent. print coll. Richard Vallance


Ad Lyram

(Casimir, Book II. Ode 3)

The solemn-breathing air is ended--
Cease, O Lyre! thy kindred lay!
From the poplar-branch suspended
Glitter to the eye of Day!

On thy wires hov'ring, dying,
Softly sighs the summer wind:
I will slumber, careless lying,
By yon waterfall reclin'd.

In the forest hollow-roaring
Hark! I hear a deep'ning sound--
Clouds rise thick with heavy low'ring!
See! th' horizon blackens round!

Parent of the soothing measure,
Let me seize thy wetted string!
Swiftly flies the flatterer, Pleasure,
Headlong, ever on the wing.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834)

"If we except Lucretius and Statius, I know not of any Latin poet, ancient or modern, who has equalled Casimir in boldness of conception, opulence of fancy, or beauty of versification. The Odes of this illustrious Jesuit were translated into English about 150 years ago, by a Thomas Hill, I think. [--by G.H. [G. Hils.] London, 1646. 12mo. Ed. L.R. 1836.] I never saw the translation. A few of the Odes have been translated in a very animated manner by Watts. I have subjoined the third ode of the second book, which with the exception of the first line, is an effusion of exquisite elegance. In the imitation attempted, I am sensible that I have destroyed the effect of suddenness, by translating into two stanzas what is one in the original." [Samuel Taylor Coleridge, in 'Advertisement' to Ad Lyram, in Watchman, II, March 9, 1796]

To view this same page in its LATIN original on the internet, please click here:

Samuel Taylor Coleridge (Ad Lyram)


Casimir, "AD LYRAM" (1646)

Sonora buxi Filia sutilis,
Pendebis alta, Barbite, populo,
Dum ridet aer, et supinas
Sollicitat levis aura frondes:

Te sibilantis lenior halitus
Perflabit Euri: me iuvet interim
Collum reclinasse, et virenti
Sic temere iacuisse ripa.

Eheu! serenum quae nebulae tegunt
Repente caelum! quis sonus imbrium!
Surgamus--heu semper fugaci
Gaudia praeteritura passu!

Casimir 1646


Lyre, you will spread out your ringing strings
high up on the entangled boxwood tree,
so people can hear you as the air sunnily
smiles, and a slight breeze ruffles the limpid leaves.

The caressing breath of the whisting Sou'Easter
will blow through you: for yet a little while will be I granted
the golden chance to be able lie down on the hill, and so
be allowed to rest without a care on the greening shore.

Alas! How the serene sky is suddenly
overcast! What a raging downpour is this?
Let us arise -- Alas, every present pleasure is
always a fleeting footstep, pleasure of the past.

transliteration into English linear prose by Richard Vallance 2004


Specialized poetic Latin vocabulary:

Stanza 1

sonorus = sounding, resonant, ringing, loud
buxus i f. & buxum I n. = evergreen box tree, boxwood
filium n. = thread, cord,chord
sutilis = sown or stitched together; fastened together
supinus = lying face upwards; spread out from the palms upwards; sloping upwards; careless, negligent, lazy; w/o a care in the world
frons, frondis f. = leaf, foliage

Stanza 2

sibilare = to hiss, to whistle
halitus us m. = breath, exhalation, vapour
perflo - ae = blow through, blow over
Eurus i m. (Greek) = the (south)-east wind
barbitos m & f. = lyre
vireo - virere = to be green; to be vigorous, healthy, fresh, youthful
temere adv. = blindly, by chance, accidently, carelessy, heedlessly, w/o purpose

Stanza 3

tego tegere texi tectum = to cover, to conceal, hide; cover to protect, shiled
imber imbris m. shower, rainstorm, pelting rain
fugax, fagacis adj. = ready to flee, flying, fleeting

This lilting lyrical elegy will be honoured with a full review in Vallance Review 37, Poetry Life & Times (UK), September 2004.
Meantime, should you wish to read any of the Vallance Reviews, 2001-2004, feel free to click the Cumulative Index here:

Vallance Review Cumulative Index


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