translated from the Latin by Tom Sleigh
Bright like molten gold her hair as she lashes
Her chariot on, axle still sparking
With frost—dragging day up over the sea, day
That makes her shrivelled husband sigh:
She’s left him all alone, escaped his bed
For the wide dawn . . .
“Look, Aurora, slow down, OK?
Memnon’s sacred starlings need to pay
Respects to their father’s ghost—give them a chance
To spring from his ashes, dark birds whirling
Through still dark air!
Plus, you’ll be doing me
A favor; and not just me, but lovers like me
When sleep is deep, the air’s cool,
And birdsong laves the edge of day, how I delight
In lying in her arms, thigh pressed on thigh!
Bad news to lovers deliciously dozing, Aurora,
What’s the rush? Pull back on the reins a bit
With that lovely blood-flushed hand, help sailors
Better observe the stars so they steer sure
And clear across the trackless deep.
When you crack
Your whip, its lash stings travellers, no matter
How tired, back to slogging down the road, while
It snaps in the soldier’s ear, his hand reaching
Out in terror to grip his spear. You’re the first
To spot the farmer plowing, you summon
The steer to grinding work beneath the yoke.
Tom Sleigh’s book include After One (Houghton Mifflin, 1983), Waking (University of Chicago Press, 1990), The Chain (University of Chicago Press, 1996), The Dreamhouse (University of Chicago Press, 1996), and translation of Euripides’s Heracles (Oxford University Press, 2000). Far Side of the Earth is forthcoming. He has won the Shelley Prize from the Poetry Society of America, an Individual Writer’s Award from Lila Wallace/Reader’s Digest Fund, and grants from the Guggenheim and NEA. He teaches at New York University and Dartmouth. (2002)