Callimachus Ep. 2 (Contributed by Nicholas Debenham)

I learnt Cory’s translation of Callimachus’ poem by heart sixty years ago and wrote it just now, I am glad to say, from memory.

This poem carries the essential Classical qualities of brevity, simplicity, and emotional restraint.

Nicholas Debenham


Εἶπέ τις, Ἡράκλειτε, τεὸν μόρον, ἐς δέ με δάκρυ

ἤγαγεν. ἐμνήσθην δ᾿ ὁσσάκις ἀμφότεροι

ἠέλιον λέσχῃ κατεδύσαμεν, ἀλλὰ σὺ μέν που,

ξεῖν᾿ Ἁλικαρνησεῦ, τετράπαλαι σποδιή.

αἱ δὲ τεαὶ ζώουσιν ἀηδόνες, ᾗσιν ὁ πάντων

ἁρπακτὴς Ἀίδης οὐκ ἐπὶ χεῖρα βαλεῖ.



They told me, Heraclitus, they told me you were dead;
They brought me bitter news to hear and bitter tears to shed.
I wept as I remembered how often you and I
Had tired the sun with talking and sent him down the sky.

 But now that thou art lying, my dear old Carian guest,
A handful of grey ashes, long, long ago at rest,
Still are thy pleasant voices, thy nightingales, awake;
For Death he taketh all away, but them he cannot take.



Sunset at Telendos

Translated by William Johnson Cory 1823–1892
The Oxford Book of English Verse: 1250–1900, edited by Arthur Quiller-Couch,1919. Poem 759. Heraclitus

For a more literal translation of this poem go to:

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