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Cowley's "Solitudo" / "Solitude"

(Click here for a line-for-line English translation, or click here for all three texts in parallel.)  

Solitudo. [Poemata Lat. 1668]

RUra laudamus meritò Poëtæ,
Rure floremus; Dominóque Laurum
Sole gaudentem necat Oppidorum
   Nubilus Aër.
Nam priùs crescet Seges in plateis,
Et coronabunt fora densa flores
Spontè nascentes, priùs ipsa Civis
Fiet et Herba.
Urbe Quam surgat mediâ bonorum
Carminum Messis; bona semper Urbem   10
Carmina oderunt, neque nutrit omnis
Omnia Tellus.
Rure, Persarum veluti Tyrannus,
Abditus longo maneam recessu,
Sæpè Legatum satìs est ad urbem
Mittere Carmen.
Arbores salvete, bonæque sylvæ,
Civitas fœlix Avium innocentum!
Regna Musarum! sacra rusticantum
Villa Deorum!   20
Hic jacens vestris temerè sub umbris,
Audiam suprà Zephyros volantes
Cúmque facundis benè disputantes
Frondibus Auras.
O sacrum risum juvenilis anni!
Cùm calor totos penetrans per artus,
Fertilem pubem, Venerémque adulti
Suscitat orbis.
Hîc mihi æstivo Domus apta Sole,
Pulchra Naturæ Domus Architectæ!   30
Quis Trabem excisam priùs æstimabit
Arbore vivâ?
Audiam hîc proni per aprica collis
Luce turgentes liquidísque gemmis,
Dulcè ridentes properare Rivos,
Dulcè loquentes.
Esse qui secum nequit Occupatus,
Aut laborabit miser ille vitæ
Tædio, aut caras malè collocabit
Prodigus horas.   40
Tu Deum longis comitata sœclis
Sola tu Rerum, Sacra solitudo,
Antequam Trunco Numerorum abiret
Arbor ab Uno.
Impetus Mentis nimiùm evagantes
Instar Aurigæ cohibes periti,
Et jubes pulchrum breviore gyro
Claudere cursum.
Languidos Mentis fluidæ Calores
Et nimis multum spacii occupantes   50
Ritè constringénsque fovénsque pulchros
Elicis Ignes.
Quid mihi æterno populum, fluentem
Fonte, Londinum, numerósque jactas?
Quid mihi ingentes nihil invidenti
Objicis arces?
Eximam Stultos numero tuorum,
Eximam densum genus Improborum,
Vicus obscurus, propè Solitudo
Tu quoque fies.   60
[From "Of Solitude." Works 1668]

|1| Hail, old Patrician Trees, so great and good!
Hail, ye Plebeian under wood!
Where the Poetique Birds rejoyce,
And for their quiet Nests and plenteous Food
Pay with their grateful voice.
|2| Hail, the poor Muses richest Mannor Seat!
Ye Countrey Houses and Retreat.
Which all the happy Gods so Love,
That for you oft they quit their Bright and Great
Metropolis above.
|3| Here Nature does a House for me erect,
Nature the wisest Architect,
Who those fond Artists does despise
That can the fair and living Trees neglect,
Yet the Dead Timber prize.
|4| Here let me careless and unthoughtful lying,
Hear the soft winds above me flying,
With all their wanton Boughs dispute,
And the more tuneful Birds to both replying,
Nor be myself too Mute.
|5| A Silver stream shall roul his waters near,
Guilt with the Sun-beams here and there
On whose enamel'd Bank I'll walk,
And see how prettily they Smile, and hear
How prettily they Talk.
|6| Ah wretched, and too Solitary Hee
Who loves not his own Company!
He'l feel the weight of't many a day,
Unless he call in Sin or Vanity
To help to bear't away.
|7| Oh Solitude, first state of Human-kind!
Which blest remain'd till man did find
Even his own helpers Company.
As soon as two (alas!) together joyn'd,
The Serpent made up Three.
|8| Though God himself, through countless Ages Thee
His sole Companion chose to be,
Thee, sacred Solitude alone,
Before the branchy head of Numbers Tree
Sprang from the Trunk of One.
|9| Thou (though men think thine an unactive part)
Dost break and tame th' unruly heart,
Which else would know no settled pace
Making it move, well mannag'd by thy Art
With Swiftness and with Grace.
|10| Thou the faint beams of Reasons scatter'd Light,
Dost like a Burning-glass unite,
Dost multiply the feeble Heat,
And fortifie the strength; till thou dost bright
And noble Fires beget.
|11| Whilst this hard Truth I teach, methinks, I see
The Monster London laugh at me,
I should at thee too, foolish city,
If it were fit to laugh at Misery,
But thy Estate I pity.
|12| Let but thy wicked men from out thee go,
And the Fools that crowd thee so,
Even thou, who dost thy Millions boast,
A Village less than Islington wilt grow,
A Solitude almost.

Both the Latin and English are based on texts owned by the editor and comprising these errors, which are duly corrected above: Latin 23: fœcundis for facundis; English st. 11: his for this. Ampersands have been silently expanded in both texts, and long "s" and italicized punctuation have been normalized throughout. Cowley's Latin consists of 15 four-line Sapphic stanzas and his English of 12 five-line stanzas, so that, even though the line-counts are equal, the stanzas do not correspond. This is the only one of four parallel-text lyrics not to feature a metrical near-match between English and Latin, and since Cowley elsewhere favors a compact four-line stanza for both, it seems likely that the English poem on solitude with its diffuse five-line arrangements was actually the first of the series. The Latin poem was first published posthumously in the Carminum Miscellaneorum Liber concluding the Poemata Latina of 1668; the English poem, part of Cowley's English Works, first appeared that same year in the essay, "Of Solitude."

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