Tuesday, September 17, 2013

His Boat

This boat you see, friends, will tell you 
that she was the fastest of craft,
not to be challenged for speed
 by any vessel afloat, whether
 driven by sail or the labour of oars.
The threatening Adriatic coast won’t deny it,
nor the isles of the Cyclades,
nor noble Rhodes, nor fearful Bosphorus,
nor the grim bay of the Black Sea
 where, before becoming a boat, she was 
leafy wood: for on the heights of Cytorus
 she often hissed to the whispering leaves.
The boat says these things were well known to you,
and are, Amastris and box-wood clad Cytorus: 
she says from the very beginning she stood 
on your slope, that she dipped her oars
 in your water, and carried her owner from there 
over so many headstrong breakers,
whether the wind cried from starboard 
or larboard, or whether Jupiter struck at the sheets 
on one side and the other, together:
and no prayers to the gods of the shore were offered
 for her, when she came from a foreign sea 
here, as far as this limpid lake.
But that’s past: now hidden away here 
she ages quietly and offers herself to you,
Castor and his brother, heavenly Twins.
Gaius Valerius Catullus