Tuesday, January 9, 2024

Anti-war Cento

 Cento Sonnet à la P. VERGILIVS MARO


Let me make this final effort to work the fields

without damage, Arethusa, before the media flee from the work,

never claiming the land though ‘she’ favours its people over herself,

and the fretwork of metal trees tunes only erosion.


Where there were recently olive groves there are now graves —

the scent of leaves and wood lost in gunpowder, shrapnel.

All prayers are blasted as the hand holds the head, the earth.

Who in Sicily will hear the songs that once sprang from Gaza?


It is not our right to interfere in your disputes and yet arms

from across the oceans flow over ravines and waste the land.

All moisture is lost as blood flakes on rubble, windows are gone.

The green of camouflage replaces the trees taken under duress.


All the words we write hoping they will shepherd a peace,

while supreme untruths wreck even the joys of night.



            John Kinsella



Cento Sonnet à la P. VERGILIVS MARO


Extremum hunc, Arethusa, mihi concede laborem:

et quo quemque modo fugiatque feratque laborem,

dum fovet ac ne me sibi praeferat illa veretur,

uestra meos olim si fistula dicat amores!


Disce et odoratam stabulis accendere cedrum

ipse caput tonsae foliis ornatus oliuae

ut nuper, frustra pressabimus ubera palmis —

carmina pastoris Siculi modulabor auena.


Non nostrum inter vos tantas componere lites:

arentesque sonant ripae collesque supini.

In medium, seu stabit iners seu profluet umor, 

quantum uere nouo uiridis se subicit alnus.


carmina qui lusi pastorum audaxque iuventa,

namque ut supremam falsa inter gaudia noctem.




[sources: Virgil Eclogues 10 and 3; Georgics 3 and 4; Aeneid 6 via JK]

Though the lines in the Latin cento don't 'agree' as such, and only 'follow'/'connect' abstractly (grammatically/re syntax/sense), they are in dialogue with each other and create their own contexts through juxtaposition.



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