Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Hecht and Horace

Stumbled upon this sonnet by Anthony Hecht.

An Old Malediction
(freely from Horace)

What well-heeled knuckle-head, straight from the unisex
Hairstylist and bathed in Russian Leather
Dallies with you these late summer days, Pyrrha,
In your expensive sublet? For whom do you
Slip into something simple by, say, Gucci?
The more fool he who has mapped out for himself
The saline latitudes of incontinent grief.
Dazzled though he be, poor dope, by the golden looks
Your locks fetched up out of a bottle of Clairol,
He will know that the wind changes, the smooth sailing
Is done for, when the breakers wallop him broadside,
When he’s rudderless, dismasted, thoroughly swamped
In that mindless rip-tide that got the best of me
Once, when I ventured on your deeps, Piranha.

And naturally I had to figure out which part of Horace it reminded me of. I think it’s this. What do you think?

Odes I.25

Less and less often the roaring boys
toss their pebbles against your closed shutters,
they don’t rob you of sleep anymore, and the
door hugs its threshold

That once turned gladly all night on its
hinges. You hear fewer wailing:
“While I spend the long night dying for you, Lydia,
can you stay sleeping?”

your turn is coming: a crone alone in the street,
you will cry that your lovers all hate you,
as the North wind howls like a bacchante
and the moon is dark,

and the fire of love and longing is in you
the itch that drives a mare mad for the stallion,
you will rage with the lust that gnaws your belly
and you will complain

that the good time boys now find their fun
with the green ivy and the dark green myrtle,
and the withered leaves are tossed away
to the winter wind.

There’s the same sense of scahdenfreude…(not sure who the translator is.) I think I need to console myself.

‘I, being born a woman and distressed’

I, being born a woman and distressed
By all the needs and notions of my kind,
Am urged by your propinquity to find
Your person fair, and feel a certain zest
To bear your body’s weight upon my breast:
So subtly is the fume of life designed,
To clarify the pulse and cloud the mind,
And leave me once again undone, possessed.
Think not for this, however, the poor treason
Of my stout blood against my staggering brain,
I shall remember you with love, or season
My scorn with pity, – let me make it plain:
I find this frenzy insufficient reason
For conversation when we meet again.

Ha! Edna St. Vincent Millay.

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