Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Carceris Instar Tellus

Here is today's distich by John Owen, with an English translation by Thomas Harvey, 4.253. Typical for a collection of poetry at the time, Owen's poetry abounds with misogynistic verses. In general, I have not chosen to include those, but I could not resist this elaborate metaphor which posits the idea that this world is like a prison, and then goes on to tell us about the prison walls, the prison guard, and the chains that keep us here.

Carceris Instar Tellus
Carceris est instar tellus, quasi moenia caelum,
Custos peccatum. Vincula quae? Mulier.

The Earth is like a Gaol, like Walls the Skies,
The Gaoler’s Sin, the Fetters Womens Eyes.


carcer - prison
instar - image, likeness, equal
tellus - earth, the world
sum - be, exist
quasi - as if, like
moenia - walls
caelum - sky
custos - guardian, watchman
peccatum - sin
vinculum - chain, fetter
qui - which
mulier - woman

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