Process Notes on 1.17

See West’s Notes at: West, D. Horace Odes I Carpe Diem: Text, Translation and Commentary, Oxford: Clarendon Press, (1995), pp.82-85

Horace invites ‘Tyndaris to visit him [there] in his country paradise’[1]  The implication here, ‘with tongue slightly in cheek, [is] that the divine protection granted to Horace’s goats is available also to Tyndaris – security, protection from heat, fodder, mating….absence of fear…’[2]  ’To sense the thrust in this poem we have to remember the person to whom Horace addressed this collection, his patron Maecenas.  We also have to remember the gratitude Horace felt to Maecenas for the gift of his beloved Sabine farm.  Horace is a master of tact….  When Horace writes that the gods love him and his Muse and that Faunus protects his flocks, Maecenas knows perfectly well what was meant.  Faunus protects.  Maecenas gave.’[3]  The farm was given to Horace so that he could write his poetry.  ‘This ode informs his patron that he is doing so.  It expresses his gratitude, his contentment, and his continued dedication to the Muse.’[4]
’In 17 the passionate youth is again shown the door as Horace gives a positive notion of some of the pleasures of mature love’[5], but ‘The question is still asked how Horace can movingly plight his undying troth to Lydia at the end of 1.13 and at 1.11 and 1.17 be loving Leuconoe and Tyndaris.  This question in turn tends to lead to the conclusion that these are not love poems but literary exercises.  This is to raise yet again the spectre long-since-laid of the autobiographical fallacy.’[6]

West makes an observation which is extremely meaningful for me, ‘Poets often respond to technical challenges and they are often aware of the work of their predecessors, but writing poetry is not simply a matter of shuffling and redealing the old cards.  Good poets blend their experience of literature and their experience of life in a hugely complex operation which they themselves do not fully understand.  As Horace might have put it, the poet was under the guidance of the Muse who led him where he did not know that he wanted to go.’[7]  It is the idea of responding to the wisdom in Horace’s poetry and mixing it with my experience of life that drives me in my work on Horace texts. 

Here I change the addressee from the sexually predatory Pan (Faunus) into my own encounter with my first creative writing tutor – in a sense Denise’s ‘voice’ becomes my Muse and it’s Denise I invite to my ‘safe’ place, which is in an area called Clockhouse Wood.  (My home, and the equivalent of Horace’s Sabine Farm).  So in my version, Denise takes on the role of both Pan (Faunus) and Tyndaris  I refer to Denise’s Grove Hill voice because the writing group where I met Denise was held in an area of Middlesbrough, called Grove Hill.  Both these references, ‘Hill’ and ‘Wood’ pick up the ‘country’ feel of the original.   In the penultimate stanza ‘write your script and toast your oeuvre with Asti’ is meant to create a picture of the two of us as a pair of suffering women, suffering for our art, to pick up on Circe and Penelope. 


[1] D. West, Horace Odes I carpe Diem: Text, Translation and Commentary, Oxford: Clarendon Press, (1995), p.82

[2] Ibid

[3] Ibid  83-4

[4] Ibid 84

[5] Ibid 85

[6] Ibid

[7] Ibid 83


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