Poesis Latina A Johanne Lyaeo scripta
Latin Poetry by John Lee

Poemata omnia ab hoc poeta / All poems by this poet

Epigrammata Sacra necnon Profana
Epigrams Sacred and Profane

Ad lectorem

Exegi monumenta hic nulla perennia, lector:
  est ars longa tibi, sed mihi vita brevis.

To the Reader

Not marble nor the gilded monuments
Need fear these epigrams or their contents.

De Sapphicis

Sapphicos versus, tibi commodos, nec
utiles mi nec faciles, canora
Lesbis, ingratus statui poeta
scribere nullos.


Making sapphics isn't that easy, shackling
Our reluctant language with trochees. Since you
First begot them, songstress of Lesbos, keep them:
I'll never write them.

Ad nurum meam, a.d. vi Id. Ian. mmiv

Filia quae rosea frontem nunc fronde coronas,
  coniugium vobis ipse coronet Amor.

To My Daughter-in-law, 8th January, 2004

Daughter, today you crown your brow with roses.
May Love himself crown your marriage.

Ad amicum E.B. qui annos lxx compleverat

Iam biblicos annos complevit carus amicus:
  diffugiunt, quorum gaudia tuta manent.

To my Friend E.B. on His Turning Seventy

You've now attained the psalmist's score, dear friend:
The years are gone, their blessings without end.

Ad R.L. cum annos l compleverat

Quot Danaus natas, famulas quot habebat Elissa,
  tot numeras annos, tot niveosque pilos.

To R.L. on his fiftieth birthday

Your age with Danaïds its number shares,
With Dido's maids, and with your greying hairs.

Pro die Latinitatis (Idibus Maiis, mmiii) Unionis Latinae

Unio linguarum salve materque Latina,
  quae per discipulos progeniemque micas.
Unio linguarum salve materque Latina:
  in subolis verbis vivis et usque micas.

For a Festival of the Latin Union (15 May, 2003)

Mother and ornament of languages,
some said you'd died,
but you still speak in scholars' works
and Latin pride.

De linguis Romanicis (pro Unione Latina)

Caesaris ad fines terrarum verba volarunt,
  quae retinet mire iam mutilata cliens;
principis augustum posthac non flectere nomen
  Danubius mavult purpureusque Tagus.

The Romance Languages (for the Latin Union)

Great Caesar's words o'er all the world
Imperiously have flown;
His vassals chop the endings off
And make the words their own.

Romanians and Portuguese
Prefer not to decline
Henceforth their prince's august name
And epithets divine.

Ad amicum qui imagines photographicas miserat

Effigiem gratam mittis quam fecit Apelles —
  ast homo quam pinxit, tinxit Apollo deus.

To a Friend Who Had Sent Photographs

These welcome images, to my delight,
Apelles painted with Apollo's light.

Haiku Latinum: Ad brevem epistolam responsio

Scribis breviter:
respondeo brevius,
nec nimis breve.

Your letter was brief:
I answer it more briefly,
yet not too briefly.

Finis amorum

Ludere lascivos quae nunc delectat amantes,
  haec in mente senes non agitare decet.


It does not do at sixty-two
To dwell upon what lovers do.

Facies renata

In Veneris temptat medicus convertere malas
  Aemiliae, perimens quod dedit ipsa Venus.


Amelia's doctor gives her face a lift,
Erasing, by so doing, nature's gift.

Elogium anchoritae

Per veneres concepta, viri contempsit amorem;
quae Domino sponsa est, intemerata iacet.

Epitaph for an Anchoress

Begotten carnally, she made no pact
Except with God, and now lies here intact.

Animadversio de Sti Bedae epitaphio

Qui titulum Bedae verbo 'venerabilis' auxit
  angelus inscito non mihi scitus adest.
aetherii vates fortasse vocabula scribant
  et mihi, si fiam sicuti Beda pius.
["Aiunt monachum inscitum, a quo [Bedae] epitaphium esset faciendum, nesciens quomodo compleret hexametrum dactylo paenultimo, lacunam reliquisse in versu:
    hic sunt in fossa Bedae..........ossa
donec de hiatu complendo pulvinum suum consuleret; at, cum ille mane rediisset, vidisse chasma ab angelo (ut de cantu talium spirituum saepe audivimus, sic nunc poesem videmus) completum epitheto 'venerabilis'." (Excerptum e libro Church History quem exaravit Thomas Fuller, ut infra citatum.)]

Reflection on the Epitaph of the Venerable Bede

The angel who helped write Bede's epitaph
Withholds from me his learned autograph;
Perhaps, if I had piety like Bede's,
Angelic poets might supply my needs.
["Some say a dunce-monk, being to make his epitaph, was non-pluss'd to make that dactyle, which is onely of the quorum in the hexameter, and therefore at night left the verse gaping,
    hic sunt in fossa Bedae ................ ossa,
till he had consulted with his pillow, to fill up the hiatus; but returning in the morning, an angel (we have often heard of their singing, see now of their poetry) had filled up the chasma with 'venerabilis'." (Thomas Fuller, Church History, p.11, quoted in Bedae Opera Historica, Loeb ed., Heinemann, London. 1930, vol. I p. xxi.)]

Alexandri Smarii Crispi Monobiblion

Laura, lavas quotiens mammas, precor ostia claudas
  ne procus inrepat sollicitetque domum.
[vide poema "Laura e lavabro" in hoc Araneae loco.]

Alexander Smarius's Monobiblion

Her boyfriend's vagrant ways one must deplore --
Laura! make sure you lock the bathroom door!
[See his "Laura e lavabro" on this website.]

Gulielmi Chillingworthi liber De Fide Protestantium

Vt cum putre tuum librum putescere iussit,
  dis placuit: nulli iam liber iste placet.
["Dum aegrotabat Gulielmus, vexabat eum atrociter doctor ille Franciscus Cheynellus qui postea aliquanto, cum sepeliendus esset Gulielmus, iniecit in sepulchrum librum eius; 'putescas' inquit 'cum putribus' deinde 'sepeliant mortui mortuos suos'." (Iohannis Aubreii Vita Chillingworthi)]

William Chillingworth's "The Religion of Protestants &c"

When Cheynell bade your book: "Rot with the rotten!",
His prayer was heard: the volume's quite forgotten.
["In his sicknesse he was inhumanely treated by Dr Cheynell, who, when he was to be buryed, threw his booke into the grave with him, saying, Rott with the rotten; let the dead bury the dead." (John Aubrey's Life of Chillingworth)]

Dilemma Thomae Cranmeri*

'Non data pontifici est clavis Petrina potestas!'
  rex renuit claves, pontificique dedit.
[* archiepiscopus Cantuarensis tempore reformationis]

Archbishop Cranmer's** Dilemma

'Acknowledge only prince, not pope, as head';
But prince bade him acknowledge pope instead.
[** Reformation archbishop of Canterbury]

Heri flava, hodie fulva

Flaventes secuit crines et rufula factast
  Anna venusta; videt sed Venus atque gemit.

Ms. Gregory Changes Her Hairstyle

She's got herself a hair-dye
And set such colour there,
A shade, belike, of carrot -
And cut her yellow hair -
That even God in heaven
Must be in deep despair.
[After 'For Anne Gregory' (W. B. Yeats)]


Carmina pauca recens, perpauca epigrammata scripsi:
  musa pudica meast concubitumque fugit.


Wrote hardly any verse today --
The Muse is not an easy lay.

Planctus Goliardicus

Non feci versus hodie,
musa non vult concubere
quamvis implorem fervide:
timor mortis conturbat me.

"Lament of the Makaris" Revisited

Poetic block, no verse today,
Nor prospect of an easy lay,
Muse deaf to maker's ardent plea:
Timor mortis conturbat me.

Mors inaequa: Siluris carmen volutat in pectore senex.

Denique nos omnes in lucis inibimus orbem,
  aequales properant praecipitesque mei.

Death's Unfairness: an Aged Person Reflects on an Ode by Henry Vaughan.

Into Vaughan's world of light we'll go at last --
My generation's going rather fast.
[See Vaughan's poem: "They are all gone into the world of light! &c"]

Ad Laetitiam Castam*

Calvini quando vexatos Arminianos
  tundit in aetherio pulvere torva cohors,
Laetitia adrides hos vanos Casta labores,
  moenibus ut risit Tyndaris Iliacis.
[* in umbraculo computatri depictam, in quo sunt et litterae quaedam theologorum Calvinistorum et Arminianorum.]

To Laetitia Casta**

Arminians, in luminescent lists,
Are overborne by fervid Calvinists:
Upon their dry disputes you smile, Chaste Joy,
Like Helen on the battlements of Troy.
[** portrayed on a computer screen displaying also some correspondence of Calvinist and Arminian theologians.]


Laetam casta Minerva, meam quae protegis arcam,
  sis nudata licet, vestis es ipsa vitri.

Same topic

O chaste Minerva of my glad machine,
Though unadorned, your presence clothes its screen.

Professori muneribus abscedenti dant conlegae libros ut donentur ab illo bibliothecae academicae.

Donamus libros - donabis bibliothecae;
  conlegae grati sunt forulique tui.
Accipis, et donum largiris dantibus ipsis;
  hinc comites grati sunt forulique tui.

A retiring academic's colleagues present him with books to enable him to give the volumes to a library.

We give you books for us to read ourselves;
Your colleagues thank you, and your burdened shelves.

Casanova senex

Languescens flammis sopitis, cara, senesco;
  nunc etiam cupio, nunc oculis et amo.

Casanova in Old Age

Though age dictates a waning of the fire,
I've still a lover's eye, and still admire.

Ludovici Wittgensteinii Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus

E casibus est mundus natus,
fortunatis fortunatus;
at sunt in hoc Elysio
et spatia in quis ego.

Meditation on Wittgenstein's Tractatus

The world is all that is the case,
For happy souls, a happy place;
But Wittgenstein, obligingly,
Leaves some of it for you and me.

Platonis distichon

Vt prius in vivis aurorae stella micabas,
  mortuus exanimis Hesperus usque micas.
[Anthologia Palatina VII.670]

A Couplet by Plato

When living, like the morning star, you shone;
Among the dead, for evening star, you've gone.

Meleagri distichon

Languerunt flores in frontibus Heliodorae;
  clara sed effulgens, ipsa corona fuit.
[Anthologia Palatina V.143]

A Couplet by Meleager

Sun's Gift, the flowers on your brow are dead:
You shine, the garland's garland, in their stead.

Ars poetica

Vt facile edocti saltant, sic, optime, scribunt:
  Terpsichore cura, Melpomeneque datur.

Pope on Versifying

True ease in writing comes from art, not chance,
As those move easiest who have learned to dance.
[Essay on Criticism, I. 362-3]

Proverbium Rabelesianum in tribus personis compositum

Optavi monachus fieri cum, cara, peribam;
  iam sanus, fio si monachus, peream!
Optasti monachus fieri cum, prave, peribas.
  sanescis - fias si monachus, pereas.
Si pereat, monachus valde velit esse stuprator;
  iam valet, et fiat si monachus, pereat.

A Proverb from Rabelais

The devil fell ill - the devil, a monk he'd be;
The devil got well - the devil a monk he'd be!

Mea soror Caterina (cantus)

Vt quilon in patina, natibus Caterina tremiscit:
  sim natibus pernix, ut Caterina soror!
vicinis notast pueris Caterina tremiscens:
  sim natibus pernix, ut Caterina soror!
[After 'I Wish I Could Shimmy', as sung by Anna Jones accompanied by Fats Waller and recorded in June 1923.]

Auctoris ignoti versus de reginae obitu

In tumulum praeceps regnatrix magna cucurrit,
  sic ad humum rediens ad cineresque cinis.

Couplet on the death of a queen

Dust to dust and ashes to ashes,
Into the tomb the Great Queen dashes.

Versus Florentiae Fabrae (vide poema"Veneris cultores")

Lacrimo gaudens
atque dolens,
utinam adsis
mi, care, frequens.
[Tr. of lines by Stevie Smith from "Votaries of Both Sexes Cry First to Venus"]

Poema Florentiae Fabrae 'Veni, Mors (ii)' (ultimum eius poema, mcmlxxi)

Aegra, Deus, dubitans, a te solamina quaeram?
  an melius notast Mors, ut amica, mihi?
Mors dea, sola ex dis parens, ut serva ministras:
  heus! digitis crepito! dulcis amica, veni!
[Based on Stevie Smith's Last Poem 'Come, Death (2)' (1971)]

Idem, in accentuali metro*

AEGROTO: convertar ad Deum
qui miseretur fatum meum?
mi quid est? graviter doleo:
iam dulcis amica venito.

Deo sum nunc minus devota,
melius mihi est mors nota,
dehinc mortem deam colo:
  iam dulcis amica venito.

ah, dulcis mors, tu dea sola
10  omnibus ex dis es servola;
ministras mihi si te cito:
  iam dulcis amica venito.

fac cito quod eris factura,
in me non est aliqua mora;
15  Philomenam tuam audito:
  iam dulcis amica venito.

audi, dea, mordacem sonum
quo postulo exitum bonum —
ancilla, digitis crepito:
20    iam dulcis amica venito.
[*Same as preceding poem, but in an accentual metre.]

Acceptio circumscripta

"Dulcis amica veni" - blandissima cantas;
  et veniam forsan, si modo cras et ames.

Acceptance on Terms

Come live with you and be your love? I might,
If only your love lasts beyond tonight.

De Iuliae veste (vide poema Roberti Herrick)

Iulia cum blande liquentia serica sumit
  tum mea consumit quod pretiosa gerit.

Meditation upon Lines by Herrick

Whenas in silks my Julia goes,
How much she costs me heaven knows.

Bavius laureatus

Perpetuam Bavio famam, Fortuna, dedisti:
  morte caret Bavius dum sibi vita manet.

On an Election Result (Hilaire Belloc)

Fame to her darling Twister, fortune gives,
And Twister is immortal, while he lives.


Carmina nunc odi, multum me taedet amorum;
  sed capit aes semper, lucraque sola placent.

Fatigue (Hilaire Belloc)

I'm tired of Love; I'm still more tired of Rhyme,
But Money gives me pleasure all the time.

Ricardi Baxteri distichon

Viventis verbo Domini morientibus insto,
  sed quasi mox nequeam, nam moriens et ego.

A Couplet by Richard Baxter

I preach'd as never sure to preach again,
And as a dying man to dying men!
[From R. Baxter, "Love Breathing Thanks and Praise"]

Consolatio parva (Dorotheae Parker epigramma "Partial Comfort"): versio prima

Hippolytum in caelo spectabit castus amator,
  Tyndaridis veneres inferiusque procax.

Consolatio parva (Dorotheae Parker epigramma "Partial Comfort"): versio secunda

In Stygiis Helenae faciem spectabit adulter,
  sobrius in caelis atque Catonis amans.

Consolatio parva (Dorotheae Parker epigramma "Partial Comfort"): versio tertia

Tyndarida in Stygiis lascivus cernet amator,
  sobrium in aetheriis excipietque Cato.

Cui bono? (Ogdenii Frendoris epigramma)

Lux mea, cur lumbos optas constringere bracis?
  me Venus adgrederis, prodigium sed abis.
[Ogden Nash, "What's the Use?"]

Epigramma Iohannis D. Cunningham

Dedita Melpomenae nostrae pars tertia vitae est
  ut maneat tempus; sic mihi tempus abit.

Elegiae Constantini Cavafis: (i) Sepulcrum Lysiae grammatici in bibliotheca Beryti

Conditus a nobis doctae prope scrinia gentis,
  hic Lysias sapiens grammaticusque iacet.
liminis a dextra manes aptissima servant
  iam monumenta suis proxima deliciis:
sunt notulae, chartae, perscripta idiomata, textus,
  de patria lingua quae sua scripta manent.
adsiduos forsan gaudet meminisse labores,
  qua petimus libros percolimusque virum.

Elegiae Constantini Cavafis: (ii) Sepulcrum Evrionis

Hic violas multas permultaque lilia cernes
  quae iuvenis pulchri splendida busta tegunt;
natus Alexandrinus erat bis nobilis, ortus
  regibus e nostris et genere Emathiae.
praebuit Arsinoe vitam, lapidesque Syene
  funereas; retinet iam Ptolemaea Pharos.
rhetoricam didicit; cognoscere sacra petivit;
  scripserat historias Arsinoaeque suae:
scripta manent saltem; melior pars forma recessit
10    in tenebras, Phoebi quae quasi visus erat.

Accurata descriptio mei ipsius tenentis vischii calicem in aëroportu puta Minneapolensi (carmen poetae Czeslaw Milosz epigrammatice redditum)

Vix capiunt aures interdum verba loquentis;
  est oculus sane fessus, at usque vorax.
crura mihi parvae tunicae bracaeque revelant;
  aspicio furtim, tum femora atque nates.
quamque avidus spectans, fabellis sedor amorum
  quas petulans olim mi Cytherea dedit.
"Foede senex! decuit iuvenum te linquere ludos:
  ilia nam desunt, Orcus et ipse vocat."
at facio semper quod feci: scribere mundi
10    historias soleo quas iubet alma Venus.
quas modo spectabam, tenues sunt exstasis umbrae:
  nec magis has ipsas, omne sed aequus amo.
nempe biformis homo est, rationem adversaque iungens,
  angelus et satyrus, nec (puto) culpa mea est.
15  cum superis, ut nunc, forsan quandoque morabor
  (quae faciunt homines, haec facienda diis);
aetherium leve sed pondus, nec sensus hebescit:
  corpore deposito, visio sola manet.
formosas repetam formas, irisque colores,
20    Lucifero tactas Parisiique vias.
visibilis mundi quisnam spectacula cepit?
  nec mihi versiculus, nec mihi vita satis.
[Czeslaw Milosz, "An Honest Description of Myself with a Glass of Whiskey at an Airport, Let Us Say, in Minneapolis"]

De Angelis (carmen poetae Czeslaw Milosz epigrammatice redditum)

Omnia adempta licet, pennae sint, candida vestis,
  esse, tamen credo, nuntius, usque tibi;
nam spatiare illic, excusso tegmine mundi,
  textile qua pictum est sidere dite, feris.
adsidue fidas suturas inspicis orbis
  aetherii, tua sed perbrevis hice mora est:
mane soles olim cum sudum est visere campos,
  et liquidum repetit dulcis alauda melos;
vespera prima rubens laetos cum fascinat hortos,
10    detegit in pomis te mihi suavis odor.
historias dicunt aliquem finxisse deorum,
  sed dubito, sese quod quoque finxit homo.
vox ratio nostra est, quam non emittere possis
  ni levis et fulgens sis, similisque diis.
15  saepius in somnis mandata precesque susurras,
  quas capiam, tua sed vox aliena mihi est:
"Terrigenis tristis reditura est cura diei:
  tu patiens sortis quae potes apta petas."
[Czeslaw Milosz, "On Angels"]


Mica, mica, stellula —
quid sis mihi declara,
tu qui manes in alto,
sicut gemma in caelo.

Cum sol ardens abiit
et iam nihil aspicit,
parvam ostendis lucem,
usque micans per noctem.

Pernox iter qui facit,
10  pro te gratias agit —
mox discedat a via
ni illustres aethera.

In caeruleis manens,
per aulaea me videns,
15  non conives oculis
donec sol est in caelis.

Stella, tuis scintillis
ducis nos in tenebris;
quamquam nescio quid sis,
20  mica, mica in caelis.

De Distichis Fugiendis

Versiculos posthac fugiam qui tempora sorbent,
  et Bromio bibulus carmina laxa canam.
ter breve nam verbum, semper me cretica rident;
  pentametri finis raraque fallit avis.
me neque caesurae, veteris nec regula vatis
  iam retinent, aliis discipulus sed ego.
Bacchica declamans mixtum cratera Lyaeo
  sacrabo, Dryades quae nova metra docent.

A Farewell to Epigrams

From now on, no more epigrams
(They soak up too much time);
I'll opt instead for dithyrambs
Or pub songs with some rhyme.

In Latin every other word's
A cretic or tribrach;
Iambic endings are rare birds -
Disyllables I lack.

Down with caesuras, masc. and fem.,
10  Down with Ovidian rules;
Henceforth I'll have no truck with them,
But learn in other schools.

In haunts of wood-nymphs next I'll browse,
Discovering newer modes,
15  And to Lyaeus I'll carouse,
Declaiming Bacchic odes.

Versus Australiani ad amicum Bonaerensem

(pro aureo anniversario Unionis Latinae, Id. Maiis, mmiv)

Patriam linguam decoras, amice,
cum tuum festum celebras, fere quam
nemo nostrorum repetit, fere nec
ullus honorat.

Signa Romanis gelidus Bootes,
Cygnus et Cepheis, atrox et Ursa;
stellifer Pavo tibi, Crux fidelis
aethera lustrant.

Protegat virtus Crucis, absit unguis,
10  astra det Pavo nitidus tuis, ut
omnibus vester memorabilis sit
aureus annus.

Lines from Australia to a Friend in Buenos Aires

(for the fiftieth anniversary of the Latin Union, May 2004)

At your May festival you and your colleagues re-
member your forefathers' language, which we here
don't think about much, and only a few of us
hold in high honour.

Above her Rome fancied a swan and the daughter of Cepheus,
pitiless bears and their frost-benumbed keeper;
star-bearing peacock and faithful Cross
shine in your heavens.

May the Cross be your strength when claws of the wild bear
10  threaten destruction; and may you get stars from the peacock,
you and your fellows, to make these your golden days
days of rejoicing.

Ad JHC, medicum et amicum fortem in fide

Omnibus es medicus, nobis sed fortis amicus:
ut manus aegrotis, sic mihi grata fides.
Doctor to the world, to me you are a firm friend;
Welcome as your touch is to the sick, so is your loyalty to me.

Mors Mori

Mortuus est Morus; caput est hic, corpus et illic.
unum quae voluit, iam duo scissa iacent.

A capite optavit Morus non scindere corpus,
cui caput et corpus iam duo scissa manent.
[Versiones epigrammatis doctissimi poetae J.V. Cunningham. Stus Thomas Morus (Thomas More), eques et Angliae dom. cancellarius, decapitatus est iussu regis Henrici VIIIi.]

Animadversiones de transitu Veneris (a.d. vi Id. Iun. mmiv)

Quam placide formosa Venus transire videtur,
quae iuveni lacrimas fert, gemitusque seni.
Quam placide stellata Venus nunc aethera transit,
dans puero ludum, gaudia parva seni;
quam rapide lasciva Venus transire videtur,
quae puero lacrimas dat, gemitusque seni.

Rex, praefectus vigilum*

Te, vigil, haud multos homicidas prendere dicunt.
Vindobonae solvit crimina tanta canis.
[*Kommissar Rex, series fabularum emissa per televisionem Austrianam.]

Inspector Rex*

Officer, they say you're not arresting many murderers,
[yet] in Vienna such major crimes are cleared up by a dog.
[*Inspector Rex, Austrian TV drama seen on SBS, Australia.]

Ad Cynthiam, per Rete visam*

Rete tuis blandis peragrans sum captus ocellis,
ante tui nullis tactus imaginibus.
coccinei crines, amuletum, clavus adornant;
non opus est tunica, nam tibi vestis onus.
Mulciber uxorem falsus cum rete restrinxit,
luminibus divom capta venusta dea est;
nunc oculis aeque cupidis in Rete teneris —
intueor tantum te reverens sed ego.
sidera gaudentem comitantur, stella, satelles
10  te Venerem, sed ubi est Mars, mea cara, tuus?
mittere me sursum trans Rete per aethera discam:
planus ero tibi, tu plana puella mihi.
[*Si vis, carissime lector, cantare potes versionem Anglicam huius poematis ad melodiam ?Aureliam?, quam composuit Samuel Sebastianus Wesley.]

To Cynthia, Glimpsed on the Internet*

I knew, as I downloaded, you were the girl for me:
Your eyes (10 kb) caught me and snared my loyalty;
The crimson hair, the piercings, and well-placed pearl look cute,
And undress quite becomes you — clothes aren't your strongest suit.

The cuckold blacksmith Vulcan trapped Venus in his net,
Where she was lewdly ogled, the poor delicious pet;
Like Venus, you've been netted; like her, you spark desire,
Though when I scroll your image, it's only to admire.

It must be fun to hang out with satellites and stars,
10  But one small thing you lack, dear — you haven't got a Mars.
I'm going to learn uploading, and then, etherially,
We'll plight our bytes and be as one, two-dimensionally.
[*Tune: 'Aurelia' (S.S. Wesley).]

Ad Sappho

(carmen Iohannis Bray Latine redditum)

Lesbis illustris, decus Aeolum quis
tradidit primis Erato poesem,
prima primorum remanes virisque
femina compar.

chartulas tu per Pharias librosque
grammatistarum reseras amores,
flosculos, nuptae lacrimas, puellas,
Cyprida flavam.

sola dum pernox vigilas aquosae
10  Pleiades Phoebeque cadunt; amicas,
filiam, fratrem memoras — mariti
nomen omittens.

finxit at mendax saluisse Sappho
Lesbio spretam, sapiens professor
15  te lyra mores iuvenum polisse
dulce canentem.

manibus versus temere Latine
iam tuis ausus dare sum, tametsi
cum metris infans teneris, magistra,
20  luctor inepte.

gloriam pomo similem serenam
fronde quod summa fugit hortulanos,
falce non messor poterit perennis
carpere Tempus.

Iohannes Bray (1912-1995), iudex et poeta, urbem Adelaidensem incolebat. Facta eius biographica in Retis loco http://www.friendlystreetpoets.org.au/bray.htm invenies, et poemata in John Bray, Collected Poems 1962-1991 (University of Queensland Press).

To Sappho

There, beginning lyrical verse's roll-call,
You appear, Sappho, at the summit starring,
Coolly demonstrating in Europe's dawn that
Women can make it
Shining through fragments of papyrus dredged from
Sands, or curt quotations in dry grammarians,
You reveal girls, flowers and desire and Aphro-
dite the golden.

Moon and Pleiads set in the sleepless midnight.
10  Brides depart groomwards in a rage of parting.
You record loves, daughter and girls and brother,
Husband unmentioned.

Scandalous fablers feign that you jumped to death for
Love of Phaon: worse, the professors etch you
15  Floridly ruling some Edwardian ladies'
Finishing college.

Clumsily I grapple with English Sapphics.
Quantity, stress, how to resolve the conflicts?
Pardon me, Sappho, to mishandle thus your
20  Delicate metre.

Your serene fame, like to the highest apple
Told of by you, reachable nowhere by men,
Never will be harvested by the gardener,
Time, in his basket.

(John Bray)
John Bray (1912-1995), Queen's counsel, judge, and poet lived in Adelaide. For a brief biography, see http://www.friendlystreetpoets.org.au/bray.htm and for his verse Collected Poems 1962-1991 (University of Queensland Press). (Original poem reproduced by permission of the publishers.)
Scripsit Johannes Lyaeus (lyaeus@ozemail.com.au)
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