Imogen Halstead, 1st Prize (Open category)

Amores I.I

Arma gravi numero violentaque bella parabam
Edere, materia conveniente modis.
Par erat inferior versus: risisse Cupido
Dicitur atque unum surripuisse pedem.

'Quis tibi, saeve puer, dedit hoc in carmina iuris?
Pieridum vates, non tua turba sumus.
Quid, si praeripiat flavae Venus arma Minervae,
Ventilet accensas flava Minerva faces?
Quis probet in silvis Cererem regnare iugosis,

Lege pharetratae virginis arva coli?
Crinibus insignem quis acuta cuspide Phoebum
Instruat, Aoniam Marte movente lyram?
Sunt tibi magna, puer, nimiumque potentia regna;
Cur opus adfectas, ambitiose, novum?

An, quod ubique, tuum est? tua sunt Heliconia tempe?
Vix etiam Phoebo iam lyra tuta sua est?
Cum bene surrexit versu nova pagina primo,
Attenuat nervos proximus ille meos;
Nec mihi materia est numeris levioribus apta,

Aut puer aut longas compta puella comas.'
Questus eram, pharetra cum protinus ille soluta
Legit in exitium spicula facta meum,
Lunavitque genu sinuosum fortiter arcum,
'Quod' que 'canas, vates, accipe' dixit 'opus!'

Me miserum! certas habuit puer ille sagittas.
Uror, et in vacuo pectore regnat Amor.
Sex mihi surgat opus numeris, in quinque residat:
Ferrea cum vestris bella valete modis!
Cingere litorea flaventia tempora myrto,

Musa, per undenos emodulanda pedes!

Amores I.I

As I was writing solemn metre
Of violent wars and slaughter,
Cupid, snickering, stole a foot
And made the next line shorter.
So thus my war-like drumbeat changed
To Love’s inferior measure
And I, a bard, was so demeaned
For Cupid’s idle leisure.
‘What’s this?’ I cried, ‘Who gave the right
Of meddling to you, boy?
The Muses rule my lofty verse,
It’s not your nursery toy!
Should Venus seize the arms of war
While Hera fans Love’s flames?
Or Ceres rule the wooded hills,
Diana till the plains?
Apollo with his shining locks
Could not take up the spear,
While Mars attempts to tune the lyre
With war-cry deafened ear.
But, Cupid, you already rule
A great and powerful sphere,
Why then should you aspire to change
My verse? Why interfere?
Perhaps your realm now covers all
To Helicon’s leafy dell.
Is Phoebus’ lyre no longer safe?
Will that be yours as well?
Each time that I begin my page
And write in warlike length,
The second line cuts short too soon
And undermines my strength.
Besides, I lack a fitting theme
For Love’s less weighty beat,
I have no long-haired boy or girl
To make my verse complete.’
No sooner had I thus complained
When Cupid snatched a dart,
An arrow made to seal my fate
And destined for my heart.
He curved the bow across his knee,
And speaking thus, he drew:
‘O Bard, take this to be your theme!’
And out the arrow flew.
Alas! That boy has piercing shots,
Unerring did he fire,
And now in my once empty heart
Roar flames of my desire.
So let my work in six feet rise,
And fall in five once more,
I bid farewell to epic themes,
I’ll write of Love not War.
Come, wreathe your golden brow, my Muse,
With myrtle of the sea,
My verse will scan eleven feet
I’ll bow to elegy!

Translated from the Latin by Imogen Halstead
  [Commentary on the poem by the translator]   

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