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Main  ::  Translations - all  ::  New translation carmen 63 in English (Carmen 63)

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Posted on Sat Jan 09, 2010 12:44:53  
Over deep seas Attis in his swift boat bourne,
When with hurried foot he eagerly touched the Phrygian wood,
And approached the dark forests which encircled the place of (his) goddess,
He plucked out the weights of his genitals with a sharp flint.
So when she felt her member gone, without manhood,
Even now the ground of the earth staining with recent blood,
Seized with white hands the light drum,
Thy drum, Cybele, thy rites, mother,
And shaking the hollow hide of a bull with delicate fingers,
Began to sing tremulously to her companions.
Go, drive on to the high Gallae woods together!
Go together, roving cattle of the mistress of Dindymon,
Who, seeking a foreign place just as exiles,
Followed my way of life, led by me (to be) friends to me.
You were carried into the rapid and ferocious billows of the sea,
And you emasculated your body from excessive hatred of Venus;
You gladden your mistress by your hurried deviation.
Let late delay depart from (your) mind, go together, follow
To Phrygia, to the home of Cybele, to the woods of (your) goddess,
Where the voice of the cymbals sound, where the drums resound,
Where the Phrygian piper sings deeply on (his) curved reed pipe,
Where the heads of the ivy-wearing Maenads shake with force,
Where they shake with sharp ululations in the sacred observances,
Where the restless retinue of that goddess is accustomed to fly about,
For whom it is fitting to speed the three-step dance in our excitement.
At this same time Attis sang to her companions, the counterfeit woman (that he is).

Suddenly the orgiastic dancers ululate with trembling tongues,
The light tympani booms in reply, the hollow cymbal rings in answer.
Incited, the chorus drives on to green Ida with hurrying foot.
Frantic, as she advances breathing hard, restless, gasping for breath,
Attis, leader through the dense forests with accompanying tympani,
Just as an untamed heifer, young, avoiding the burden of the yoke,
Quickly follow the Gallae (their) swift-footed leader,
And so, tired, they touch the home of Cybele.
From excessive labor they seize sleep without Ceres (grain),
By this unsteadying exhaustion lazy sleep closes (their) eyes,
The rabid fury of the mind departs in soft repose;
But when the gold-faced Sun with eyes radiant,
Illuminated the clear ether, the hard ground, the wild sea,
And drives off the shades of night with energetic horses (the Sun’s chariot),
Then sleep departed from Attis abruptly, fleeing swiftly,
Whom the goddess Pasithea received in (her) trembling bosom.
So from soft repose quickly without uncontrolled emotion,
Attis went over in her own mind her deeds
And saw with clear mind who she might be without which (deed) and where (she might be),
With blazing soul she bore (herself) back again, returned to the shallow shore.
There looking at the vast sea with tearful eyes,
She spoke sadly to (her) country with so very miserable a voice.
“O Country, creatress of me, O Country, my mother (creator)!
I am wretched, forsaking the masters they know as fugitive slaves.
I have carried myself on foot to the forests of Ida
So that I might be near the snow and the frozen lairs of wild animals,
And approach all their hiding places in an excited (state).
Where in the world, or in which place may I place you, Country, I imagine?
I desire the pupils of my own eyes to aim my sight to you,

Being free for a brief time is my mind from the uncontrolled wild animal.
Shall I be carried from this my distant home into these woods,
From country, from goods, from friends, from parents shall I be absent?
Shall I be absent from the forum, wrestling places, running track and gymnasium?
Unhappy upon unhappy, evermore urgently my soul is protesting.
For what kind of figure is it which I will not have taken on?
I, a woman; I, an adolescent; I, ephebe (a young man); I, a boy.
I was a fine specimen of gymnast; I was the glory of wrestling,
For me the doors were crowded, for me the thresholds were warm,
For me a crown of flowers encircled (my) home,
Leaving my bedroom when the Sun might be rising.
Now may I accept being a handmaiden and slave to Cybele?
I, a Maenad; I, a part of my (former) self, a sterile man?
I, shall I inhabit cold green Ida, a region with a mantle of snow?
I, shall I live a life under high Phrygian columns,
Where a doe is living in the forest, where a wild boar is wandering in the forest?
Now, now it grieves me because of what I did.
Now, and now it causes regret.
The sound came forth from these rosy lips,
Carrying the new message to the twin ears of the gods.
Then Cybele loosening the yokes from the joined lions
And goading on the enemy of the cattle left, thus she said,
“Come”, says she, “come ferociously, make this passion drive (her);
Make it so that with the stroke of frenzy she may be carried back into the forests,
Who freely desires too much to flee my command.
Go, strike (your) backs with (your) tail, show your lashes;
Make (your) roaring resound with growls in the whole place.”
“I order you, shake your ruddy (mane) on brawny neck!”
This says threatening Cybele, and with her hand unties the yoke.
The wild animal himself stirs in his heart, urging himself on, moving swiftly,

Advances, roars, breaks the underbrush with marauding foot.
Then when he came to the damp place of the white shore,
And saw the tender Attis near the marble-like radiance of the sea,
He makes his attack. That crazed one fled into the wild woods;
There always for the entire extent of her life she was a slave.
Goddess, great goddess Cybele, goddess, mistress of Dindymon,
May all your fury be at great distance from me, mistress, and from my home.
Drive others frantic; Drive others rabid!

by Lois J. Wright
November 2009


The previous translation was by Dave Lordan:

“The screeching furies rode the ancient winds
And lashing out with glass-tipped tails
Drove Attis and his twisted crew
Across interminable days.
Astride a mile long iron deck
Attis drilled his skulking ranks
Through heaving seas of piss and blood.
They painted flags of jagged teeth,
And with raggy scraps of napalmed skin
Polished up their mercenary steel.

When at last they pitched upon a midnight shore,
A mountain’s shadow-blackened hoof,
Attis ranked his thousand brothers all together
Along the dark and loathsome sands, and standing
Proud upon a rock before their gazing lines
He roared: “Before the creeping dawn
Strips this shady mountain bare
We’re going to gain the mountaintop,
And be writhing joyously, out of our minds,
Like nests of incense-addled snakes,
In the courtyard of my mother, Cybele’s, fort.
And here before we start, before you all I'll prove my mother-love,
I’ll tear my own balls off for MOTHER DEATH, for MOTHER DEATH”
So down he bent, and with the sharpened blade of a bayonet
Sliced out his tree of life, root and all.
Attis brayed like an electrocuted mule,
Attis bled like a slit-throated bull,
Then watched his brothers emulate.

Men no more, trailing dark red rivulets,
In which the strangest stalks took root,
They charged as one mad rushing troop
Into the forest’s deeper gloom
On and up towards the mother lair, the mountaintop.
All night they trampled down the ferns,
All night they scrambled over rocks,
All night they tore past thorns and grizzled bark,
All night they hollered, sang and screamed,
Banged out tunes with hollowed shins on tambourines,
Till their lungs were raw and quit
And their amphetamine insanity was spent.
Then tripping up and staggering round
Like squads of wet-brain, park-bench drunks,
They fell to earth, and took the land of nod.

Between two steaming mouldy rocks
Attis curled up on the crawling forest floor
And dribbled, dreaming, on his mother’s breasts,
A dream that flushed his madness clear.

Attis awoke. Sun-fire and shadow danced across his skin,
Dawn song warbled from the canopy.
The air and everything within was pine-pure and glassy- still.
His mind was fresh and clean,
An empty glass, poison free.
But quickly flooding guilt took hold, regret, and fear,
And spying the boiling rusted scab that clamped
His midriff, a putrid leaf from a tree of rot,
Attis set to abandoning his groaning seedless crew
And fled back cock-less to the shore.

Across a white sea of fire he stared,
Across an endless sea of burnished skulls, he stared,
And pleaded for the fathering of home.
Where he could spend himself in slot machines as old,
Where he could train again his hounds to tear the snouts
From other hounds,
Where he has bitten earlobes off with glee,
And guffawing stamped in jaws with studded heels.
Attis cried: “Oh take me to the streets of living pain-enduring things,
The streets my father rules with cane and buckle, boot and blade,
For there’s nothing here but weeds to slash,
Just vermin hides to pierce and skin”.

A hundred yards away, shrouded in an arboreal mist,
Flanked by lizards, cobras, lions
A guarding coterie of unnameable, phantasmagoric beasts,
Cybele marked her only son’s betrayal,
And spinning in a fearsome rage,
She ordered out her fiercest brute: “ Scatter Attis from the shore,
Harry his heels to deepest woods till he is lost
And whimpering, and roams alone for evermore”
The lion sprung, and Attis fled, dripping blood, into the darksome wood.
Slithering branches shut the darkness in behind him.
So were Attis and his brothers trapped
So still, deathless and undone,
They roam those vulture taunted woods”

Oh Mother Death
Old time whining coffin queen
Queen of bombs that look like toys
Queen of toys that look like bombs
Queen of Kings and Presidents
Queen of maiming
Queen of depletion
Queen of rendition
Queen of hoods and executions
Queen of absence
Queen of fragments
Queen of disappearance
Queen of the swarms of red-hot nails,
Flame-engulfing queen
Silver haired and shadow browed
Blue tongued and bloody eye
Your needle crown
Your dress of shards
Your yellow breathe
Your crooked teeth
Your deadly stare
Your pallid flesh
Your frigid limbs
Your pus filled veins
I hate you
I hate you
I will not be your lover
I plug my ears to the
Lure of your moan
I refuse your embrace
I will not be your lover
So keep the white dust of your knock from my door,
Keep the stamp of your black lips for someone else

© copyright 26-6-2006 by Dave Lordan

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