Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Georgics, Book IV, lines 33-50 by Virgil

from The Georgics, Book IV, lines 33-50

Original text in Latin

     Ipsa autem, seu corticibus tibi suta cavatis
seu lento fuerint alvaria vimine texta,
angustos habeant aditus: nam frigore mella
cogit hiems, eademque calor liquefacta remittit.
utraque vis apibus pariter metuenda; neque illae
nequiquam in tectis certatim tenuia cera
spiramenta linunt, fucoque et floribus oras
explent, collectumque haec ipsa ad munera gluten
et visco et Phrygiae servant pice lentius Idae.
saepe etiam effossis, si vera est fama, latebris
sub terra fovere larem, penitusque repertae
pumicibusque cavis exesaeque arboris antro.
tu tamen et levi rimosa cubilia limo
ungue fovens circum, et raras superinice frondes.
neu propius tectis taxum sine, neve rubentis
ure foco cancros, altae neu crede paludi,
aut ubi odor caeni gravis aut ubi concava pulsu
saxa sonant vocisque offensa resultat imago.

English translation by David Ferry

Whether the hive is made by sewing together
Concave strips of bark, or woven of pliant
Osier wands, be sure the entrance is narrow,
For winter cold makes the honey freeze and congeal,
Heat causes it to melt and liquefy,
And either of these is a cause of fear for the bees.
It’s for this reason they vie with one another
To smear wax over the chinks in the walls of their houses,
Or stop them up with resinous stuff from flowers,
More sticky than birdlime or pitch of Phrygian Ida—
They bring it home and save it for this purpose.
And, so we’re told, sometimes they establish their house
In a hiding place underground, to keep themselves safe,
Or they’re discovered to have settled themselves
In the cells within a porous rock, or maybe
The cavity of a tree’s decaying trunk.
So help them out, by spreading mud or clay
Over the walls of their hive, and maybe scatter
A few leaves over it, too. Be sure there isn't
A yew tree growing too near where the hive is placed;
Beware of roasting crab too close to it, too—
The smoke is poisonous to the bees; beware
Of any place where the smell of mud prevails,
Or where a voice from within a hollow rock
Comes echoing back in response to the sound that struck it.

Source of the text – The Georgics of Virgil, a translation by David Ferry.  New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005, pp. 142-145.

Bourguignomicon: Concave dwellers. The English smears semantic wax over the beauty of the syntax and sacrifices the terse Latin elegance of the bees’ needs.

No comments:

Post a Comment

About Me