Idylls 11.30-52

Theocritus (translated by Matthew Stokdyk)


The Cyclops to Galatea; in heroic couplets and loosely after Marlowe's elegiac style

“I know, thou graceful girl, why ‘tis you flee:
this single, shaggy brow that marketh me,
that stretcheth long from ear to ear across
my face entire, and ‘neath it there ensconced
my single eye, and then my giant nose
that sits above my lip. And so it goes
that I am so—but wait, I shepherd here
a thousand sheep, and from them draw what’s clear
the greatest milk, and drink it up, and ne’er
I’m left without some cheese in summer air
or spring or winter’s height, and full indeed
my baskets always lie. Of all my breed
of Cyclops kin, I whistle far the best,
and sing of you and I when others rest
in dead of night, my dearest apple sweet.
And now, for you, with collars all replete,
I’m raising here eleven fawns, and too
these yearling cubs of bears, all four for you.
So come to me, and nothing less you’ll have,
and leave the greenish sea its sandy half
to beat. More pleasant will you spend the night
inside the cave with me. So come, delight:
inside are laurels, slender cypress trees,
and ivy dark, and sweet-fruit vines for thee,
and chilly water wooded Etna bears
for me from whitest snow, without compare,
a drink divine. So who would have the sea
or choose the waves before these things you see?
If yet to you too shaggy do I seem,
I have beside the pit some oaken beams
and restless fire that burns beneath the ash—
and burning thus for you, full unabashed,
I’d offer up my soul and single eye;
there is no sweeter thing to me and mine.”

This translation was the 2018 winner of the Logan Prize for Greek Translation, a prize competition hosted annually by the Department of Classical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I'm still unhappy with the enjambment throughout, as well as the fact that I only use archaisms in the first three lines. I may revise it in the future.

Matthew Stokdyk © 2018. All rights reserved.