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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

To Aurora

By Giosuè Carducci (1835–1907)

From the ‘Odi Barbare’: Translation of Frank Sewall

THOU risest and kissest, O Goddess, with thy rosy breath, the clouds,

Kissest the dusky pinnacles of marble temples.

The forests feel thee, and with a cool shiver awake;

Up soars the falcon, flashing in eager joy.

Meanwhile amid the wet leaves mutter the garrulous nests,

And far off the gray gull screams over the purple sea.

First to delight in thee, down in the laborious plain,

Are the streams which glisten amid the rustling poplars.

Daringly the sorrel colt breaks away from his feeding,

Runs to the brooks with high-lifted mane, neighing in the wind.

Wakeful answer from the huts the great pack of the hounds,

And the whole valley is filled with the noisy sound of their barking.

But the man whom thou awakest to life-consuming labor,

He, O ancient Youth, O Youth eternal,

Still thoughtful admires thee, even as on the mountain

The Aryan Fathers adored thee, standing amid their white oxen.

Again upon the wing of the fresh morning flies forth

The hymn which to thee they sang over their heaped-up spears:—

“Shepherdess thou of heaven! from the stalls of thy jealous sister

Thou loosest the rosy kine, and leadest them back to the skies;

“Thou leadest the rosy kine, and the white herds, and the horses

With the blond flowing manes dear to the brothers Asvini.”

Like the youthful bride who goes from her bath to her spouse,

Reflecting in her eyes the love of him her lover,

So dost thou smiling let fall the light garments that veil thee,

And serene to the heavens thy virgin figure reveal.

Flushed thy cheeks, with white breast panting, thou runnest

To the sovereign of worlds, to the fair flaming Suria,

And he joins, and, in a bow, stretches around his mighty neck

Thy rosy arms; but at his terrible glances thou fleest.

’Tis then the Asvinian Twins, the cavaliers of heaven,

Welcome thee rosily trembling in thy chariot of gold,

And thither thou turnest where, measured the road of glory,

Wearied, the god awaits thee in the dull gloaming of eve.

“Gracious thy flight be above us! so invoked thee the fathers;

Gracious the going of thy radiant car over our houses!

“Come from the coasts of the East with thy good fortune,

Come with thy flowering oats and thy foaming milk;

“And in the midst of the calves, dancing, with yellow locks,

All offspring shall adore thee, O Shepherdess of heaven!”

So sang the Aryans. But better pleased thee Hymettus,

Fresh with the twenty brooks whose banks smelt to heaven of thyme;

Better pleased thee on Hymettus the nimble-limbed, mortal huntsman,

Who with the buskined foot pressed the first dews of the morn.

The heavens bent down. A sweet blush tinged the forest and the hills

When thou, O Goddess, didst descend.

But thou descendedst not; rather did Cephalus, drawn by thy kiss,

Mount all alert through the air, fair as a beautiful god,—

Mount on the amorous winds and amid the sweet odors,

While all around were the nuptials of flowers and the marriage of streams.

Wet lies upon his neck the heavy tress of gold, and the golden quiver

Reaches above his white shoulder, held by the belt of vermilion.

O fragrant kisses of a goddess among the dews!

O ambrosia of love in the world’s youth-time!

Dost thou also love, O Goddess? But ours is a wearied race;

Sad is thy face, O Aurora, when thou risest over our towers.

The dim street-lamps go out; and without even glancing at thee,

A pale-faced troop go home, imagining they have been happy.

Angrily at his door is pounding the ill-tempered laborer,

Cursing the dawn that only calls him back to his bondage.

Only the lover, perhaps, fresh from the dreams of the loved one,

His blood still warm from her kisses, salutes with joy,

Beholds with delight thy face, and feels thy cool breathing upon him:

Then cries, “O bear me, Aurora, upon thy swift courser of flame;

“Bear me up into the fields of the stars, that there, looking down,

I may behold the earth beneath thy rosy light smiling;

“Behold my fair one, in the face of the rising day,

Let fall her black tresses down over her blushing bosom.”