Classics Literature Poetry

World Poetry Day-Ovid in Exile -from Tristia Book 3

Barbarian Incursions

Hero And Leander by Granger | Leander, Art, Hero

If such waters had once been yours, Leander,

those straits would not be guilty of your death.

Since the dolphins can’t hurl themselves into the air,

harsh winter holds them back if they try:

and though Boreas roars and thrashes his wings,

there’s no wave on the besieged waters.

The ships stand locked in frozen marble,

and no oar can cut the solid wave.

I’ve seen fish stuck fast held by the ice,

and some of them were alive even then.

Whether the savage power of wild Boreas

freezes the sea-water or the flowing river,

as soon as the Danube’s levelled by dry winds,

the barbarian host attack on swift horses:

strong in horses and strong in far-flung arrows

laying waste the neighbouring lands far and wide.

Some men flee: and, with their fields unguarded,

their undefended wealth is plundered,

the scant wealth of the country, herds

and creaking carts, whatever a poor farmer has.

Some, hands tied, are driven off as captives,

looking back in vain at their farms and homes.

some die wretchedly pierced by barbed arrows,

since there’s a touch of venom on the flying steel.


By penwithlit

Freelance writer and radio presenter

One reply on “World Poetry Day-Ovid in Exile -from Tristia Book 3”

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