Process Notes on 1.22

See West’s Notes at:  West, D. Horace Odes I Carpe Diem: Text, Translation and Commentary: Oxford: Clarendon Press, (1995) pp. 104-107

West holds the view that,The man who wrote the first twenty-one poems in
this book would not have walked in a dangerous forest singing about his Lalage, and if he had he would not have expected his singing to frighten away a wolf.  Such experiences are reserved for more solemn lovers such as Propertius.’[1]

‘The ode is full of genial exaggerations….The doting lover is seen as a soldier.  Hence the spears, bows and arrows of the first stanza.’[2]  The Ode is addressed to Horace’s friend, Aristius Fuscus, who ‘had a very good sense of humour’[3]
The two ‘…sit together nodding like a pair of old pigeons who know each other well.’[4]

Almond Version

I think this is meant to be a cheerful poem – an ironic look at the
actions of the lover whom I replace in my version by a naïve poet.  In both versions, the narrator puts himself on the rack – i.e. into a hostile environment, where they know they will be attacked.  In other words, they are their own worst enemy.

’Unaffected’ is a thesaurus alternative for ‘innocent’ which is the meaning behind the original, but for me adds another dimension, intending to hint at unpretentious, unconceited.  The ironic message here is that if you’re innocent/ have a clear conscience, you have no need of defence because you won’t be attacked. 

The main irony behind this poem is that it is not meant to be taken seriously: hence the idea that the famous, well-established poet would fear anything my narrator could possibly say.  This is to mirror the idea in the original of the wolf running away from the singer.

My reference to ‘hard nut’ is a play on my own surname, but also refers to the difficulty of gaining recognition.

’My feet’ is a play on the well-known phrase, ‘getting your feet under the table’ meaning getting accepted, but ‘feet’ is also meant to echo iambic feet as in poetry.

The reference to Teesside is meant to equate with Horace’s Sabine estate giving local colour.  I’ve changed Hughes’ thought fox to wild dog because that way it suggests both Hughes’ fox and Horace’s wolf under the generic title of ‘dog’ both being canine.

[1] West, D. Horace Odes I Carpe Diem: Text, Translation and Commentary, Oxford:  Clarendon Press,  (1995), pp104-105


[2] Ibid p.105

[3] Ibid p.106

[4] ibid

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