Process Notes on 1.21

See West’s Notes at: West, D. Horace Odes I Carpe Diem: Text, Translation and Commentary, Oxford: Clarendon Press, (1995), pp.100-103

I found this one of the more tricky poems over which to place a contemporary version.  Basically these two choirs of girls and boys are being told to celebrate – and the occasion is the dedication of the temple to Apollo and to praise Augustus for having built it.  There is no real parallel I can think of in the contemporary world.  I don’t think there needs to be in this setting, but what I have tried to do is capture the traditional roles and expectations of the two sexes and how they might celebrate and then contemporize in order to more accurately reflect things as they are now.

I reverse this ode, making the girls more hard-nosed; Make them sing/write about erotic pursuit whereas the boys take on a more traditionally ‘female’ and ‘innocent’ role.  This is to try and reflect some of the changes in our society where women generally have become more the predator and men have become more willing to demonstrate their ‘feminine side’

‘Cold wait’ is meant to echo the coldness of Mount Algidus in the original and the ‘profile’ outside the door, the black shapes of the conifers on the top.  I use the successful contemporary poet Michael Longley to match the reference to Caesar in the last stanza of the original.

I have also tried to echo the idea of ‘aim’ and ‘conspicuous’ and the phrase ‘You, like your brothers’ is meant to reflect the idea that Apollo and Diana were siblings.

The extreme points of the globe, Persia and Briton in the original is represented by the phrase ‘universal’ in my version.

After telling the girls to be ‘conspicuous’ I tell them to reach for the stars, the point being that just as Apollo drove out war with its tears, and famine and pestilence with their misery – drove them far away from the people and from Caesar out towards Persia and Briton, so that way the ‘girls’ in my version can reach for the stars (as in heavenly stars and showbiz stars)  – this is what they should aim for, but my version also contains a kind of warning, namely that stars burn out/fade  I suspect, knowing Horace’s wisdom that he would have realized that the powers-that-be in Rome would also burn out. /fade.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *