Vol. 36 No 3-4
Greek Poetry: New Voices and Ancient Echoes
From: Oedipus at Colonus
The Song Welcoming Oedipus Into Athenian Territory (lines 668-719)
Stranger, enter this place as home.
Tread this powerful ground for rearing horses.
Our white chalky Colonus, where
All night long from the bushy scrub
The thin fluting of nightingales
Trills their song to the darkness.
Wine-Lord's ivy unwraps to glimpse
God's untrodden and secret place
Full of an opulent foliage, fruit, and it's
So dark... such stillness, that no storm
May strike here, while the reveller
Lord of life Dionysus always holds his
Dance, escorted by nymph attendants.
Here bursts out of the frothy dew
Whiteness, ever-abundant clustered flowers,
Narcissus, which the greatest gods
Wove through their immemorial crowns,
Gold-eyed crocus, and all the time
Our stream, Kephisos, rustles
Restlessly, ripples, cascades, and falls
Down, down endlessly day and night,
Quick to give birth and to press on the meadowland
Unclouded water feeding
Our earth's breasts, as the spirits dance —
They have never neglected us, and nor has
Gold-rein love-gallop Aphrodite.
Here is something the Orient
With its riches cannot offer.
Ask wherever you like, Greece cannot grow it.
But at home here it can flourish,
And only here, growing unattended,
Self-seeding, undisturbed by war,
To bear its best fruit within this valley,
Grey-leaved feeder of children, oh my olive.
Even if they live right here beside you,
No foe shall ever destroy you, let him spend ages.
For here Zeus has his eye on trees,
Always watching as olive-Lord
With Owl-goddess Athene.
Something else to be praised now
As a glory of my country,
Finest gift of the great god — let us praise him.
On this earth there is a blessing:
O Lord Poseidon, Kronos' son,
Thou grantest us thine own achievements:
Bit and bridle to tame horses and train them.
Our lanes the first lanes seen full of riders;
Our sea waves yielding, oars wielded by strong oarsmen;
The calm of the water leaps,
Our oars ride with the hundred foam
Trails, the spirits of Ocean.
The Sophocles translations, 'The Song of Man and the City', 'The Song of Unconquered Love', from the Antigone, and 'The Song Welcoming Oedipus into Athenian Territory' and the 'The Song for Oedipus' Death' from Oedipus at Colonus, are isometric translations — i.e. the English reproduces the metre of the Greek.
Translated by Leo Aylen
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- Brittle Star
- Cannon's Mouth, The
- Coffee House, The
- Dream Catcher
- Floating Bear, The
- French Literary Review, The
- Frogmore Papers, The
- Global Tapestry
- Grosseteste Review
- Homeless Diamonds
- Interpreter's House, The
- Journal, The
- Lamport Court
- London Magazine, The
- Modern Poetry in Translation
- Monkey Kettle
- Neon Highway
- New Welsh Review
- North, The
- Obsessed with pipework
- Oxford Poetry
- Painted, spoken
- Paper, The
- Pen Pusher Magazine
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- Poetry Salzburg Review
- Poetry Scotland
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