Wednesday, August 26, 2009

From time to time I hear

There's really nothing like the thrill of discovery, is there?

Consider:

"But at my back I always hear
Time's winged chariot hurrying near;"

-Andrew Marvell, To his Coy Mistress


Now, as everyone knows, that's a line Eliot riffs on in The Waste Land. What I didn't know, and only realized a few days ago, re-reading Virgil (while thinking about the whole stud / stallion / wild horses as a metaphor for sexual desire - but that's a whole other story), that those lines themselves probably come from this [1]:


"You've seen - surely you've seen - how in a race, right from the off,
the chariots will gobble ground to take the lead,
and the charioteers, their hopes sky high and hearts in mouth,
lean forward as they ply their whips
and strain to give the horses their head, pushing them on.
The wheels are turning so quickly they burn.
Now up, now down, as if they're poised for take-off.
And no let up, and no let off, they're kicking up such a storm.
On their backs they feel the clammy breath of their pursuers."

- Virgil, Georgics III. 103-111 (translation by Peter Fallon)


The more things change, etc.

[1] I say probably because this is pure conjecture on my part. On the one hand, I feel fairly certain that Marvell would have been familiar with the Virgil, which makes the connection likely. On the other hand, it's possible that Fallon, in translating Virgil, is (consciously or unconsciously) channeling Marvell (for an alternate translation, see here). Or the whole thing could be just coincidence. I suppose there are people out there who study / research this sort of thing and would know for sure. But frankly, I'm uninterested in whether I'm right or not. The speculation's the point.

4 comments:

Space Bar said...

it's possible that Fallon, in translating Virgil, is (consciously or unconsciously) channeling Marvell

I was going to make precisely this point; with the added speculation that he might not just be channeling Marvell but also Eliot. (Wonder what the Latin lines are).

Falstaff said...

Wonder what the Latin lines are

Nonne vides, cum praecipiti certamine campum
corripuere ruuntque effusi carcere currus,
105 cum spes arrectae iuvenum, exsultantiaque haurit
corda pavor pulsans? Illi instant verbere torto
et proni dant lora, volat vi fervidus axis;
iamque humiles, iamque elati sublime videntur
aera per vacuum ferri atque adsurgere in auras;
nec mora nec requies; at fulvae nimbus harenae
tollitur, umescunt spumis flatuque sequentum

Anonymous said...

Wow, this one was so off-limits for me!

Preeti said...

"while thinking about the whole stud / stallion / wild horses as a metaphor for sexual desire"

.. and you claim you haven't seen kaminey!! I think you're watching Bollywood blockbusters in secret, Mr. Falstaff..