Each day this week, we will present a poem by Sextus Propertius -- #12 in his Cynthia sequence in the original Latin, in Vincent Katz's accurate transltion, and then in free translations (based on sound and appearance with an utter disregard of semantics) by such poets as David Lehman, Laura Cronk, Matthew Yeager, Megin Jimenez, Justin Marks, Wende Crow, Karl Parker, Erin Burke, Phoebe Zinman, Peter Drake, Claire Fuqua, J. D. Bullard and their confreres and consoeurs as well as a pocket bio of Sextus Propertius by Jack Hanley, and not a word about Extra Pound!
OK let's get started. Here is the Promethean poem in the original and in Vincent Katz's translation:
Quid mihi desidiae non cessas fingere crimen,
quod facias nobis, conscia Roma, moram?
tam multa illa meo divisa est milia lecto,
quantum Hypanis Veneto dissidet Eridano;
nec mihi consuetos amplexu nutrit amores
Cynthia, nec nostra dulcis in aure sonat.
olim gratus eram: non illo tempore cuiquam
contigit ut simili posset amare fide.
invidiae fuimus: non me deus obruit? an quae
lecta Prometheis dividit herba iugis?
non sum ego qui fueram: mutat via longa puellas.
quantus in exiguo tempore fugit amor!
munc primum longas solus cognoscere noctes
cogor et ipse meis auribus esse gravis.
felix, qui potuit praesenti flere puellae;
non nihil aspersis gaudet Amor lacrimis:
aut si despectus potuit mutare calores,
sunt quoque translato gaudia servito.
mi nesque amare aliam neque abhac desistere fas est:
Cynthia prima fuit, Cynthia finis erit.
And now as translated by Vincent Katz
Why don’t you stop fabricating the crime of apathy for me,
which you say, all you eyes of Rome, is the cause of our delay?
She is separated as many miles from my bed
as is the Hypanis from the Venetian Po.
Cynthia doesn’t nurture my usual affections with her
embrace, nor sounds sweet in my ear.
Once I pleased her: no one then could
claim to love with such intensity.
We were victims of envy: didn’t some god eclipse me?
Well, what herbs from Promethean heights divided my bed?
I am no longer what I was: a long road changes girls.
In a scrap of time, love has flown so far!
Now, for the first time, I am forced to know long nights
Alone and hate the sound of my own voice.
He’s happy who cried for a girl who was actually there.
Love delights in being sprinkled with tears.
Or if the despised lover can change his passion’s object,
there are pleasures too in transferring one’s servitude.
For me it’s not fated to love anyone else or to stop loving her:
Cynthia was the first, Cynthia will be the last.