gall and gumption

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Another by Alan Stephens

This is Alan Stephens's translation of a chorus from Antigone. I could speculate about why he picked this particular passage, but I'll spare us all. Best to just read it, really.

Sophocles: Antigone 332-372

There is much that's wondrous, much that awakens dread--
Nothing more so than the human, Sophocles says,
In the best description of us ever made:
This creature crosses the gray sea in the winter
Facing the storm-winds, making his way along
In the traffic of the billows,
And of all goddesses the one greatest, Earth
The undying, the tireless--he wears her down
With his plowing back and forth, year after year.

The light-witted race of the birds he takes,
And the tribes of the wild beasts, and the swimmers
Through sea-deeps, in the meshy folds of his nets,
This busy-thinking human.
With his tactics he masters the firld-dwellers,
And the hill-ranging animals; shaggy maned
Horses he reins in, he yokes the necks of
The tireless bulls brought down from the high country.

And speech, and wind-quick thought, and living
In a city together, he taught himself, and how to avoid
The bolts of storms, and having to sleep out
In cold clear weather. He is all inventiveness. Never
Does he go bereft of means into the future.
Death alone he cannot contrive to evade; though
From hopeless diseases he has found escapes.
Cleverness surpassing all hopes he possesses
In his plans and devices; by which sometimes to evil
Sometimes to excellence he creeps. Honoring
Earth and her laws, and the sworn justice
Of the gods, he will thrive in his city. --Shun him
When he harms what's good out of recklessness,
Shun the contagion of an arrogant cast of mind....

Alan Stephens, Away from the Road (Albuquerque: Living Batch Press, 1998), 42-43.