Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Unbought Delicacies Revisited

Owen the Ochlophobic Blogger asked me about the source of the translation for the stanza from Virgil's Fourth Georgic. I am uncertain of the source of this translation, which was included in a 2002 article by Wendell Berry. Here is a more common translation of the same:

An old man once I mind me to have seen-
From Corycus he came- to whom had fallen
Some few poor acres of neglected land,
And they nor fruitful' neath the plodding steer,
Meet for the grazing herd, nor good for vines.
Yet he, the while his meagre garden-herbs
Among the thorns he planted, and all round
White lilies, vervains, and lean poppy set,
In pride of spirit matched the wealth of kings,
And home returning not till night was late,
With unbought plenty heaped his board on high.

MIT Internet Classics Archive

or this:

An old Corician yeoman, who had got
A few neglected acres to his lot,
Where neither corn nor pasture graced the field,
Nor would the vine her purple harvest yield,
But savory herbs among the thorns were found,
Vervain and poppy-flowers his garden crown’d,
And drooping lilies whiten’d all the ground.
Bless’d with these riches, he could empires slight,
And when he rested from his toils at night,
The earth unpurchased dainties would afford,
And his own garden furnish out his board.

Virgil's Fourth Georgic as translated by Joseph Addison, poet


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