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Salient. Victoria University of Wellington Students' Newspaper. Volume 31, Number 21. September 10, 1968

[Niel Wright's translation of the second half of The Loves of Hero and Leander, by the fourth century poet Musaaus]

Page image showing original typographic arrangement

Part II of Niel Wright's translation of the second half of The Loves of Hero and Leander, by the fourth century poet Musaaus.

Now winter bursts out of the north
And ravages all thai lies beneath.
On all below his agents seize:
The frost on forests, the storm on seas.
At his bidding the wild winds rise;
They in turn the whirlpools raise;
They in turn the deep siorms rouse.
The lightning flashes, the thunder rumbles.
Then even the able sailor trembles.
And no more dares to sail the waters,
But drags his boat to winter quarters.

But the bold youth little esteems
The dangers of the winter storms.
For love his made Leander blind
To everything on sea and land.
To everything within his sight
Except the headland opposite,
To which his ever eager gaze
In constant expectation goes.
Whose signal he cannot deny,
Nor though a winter storm is nigh.
Not though the omens of the sky
Proclaim the crossing to be risky.
He is too ardent to be sure
And safe upon a distant shore.
When once that light blazes abroad
That summons him unto his bride.
Set that torchlight within his ken.
Not even the furious tempest can
Keep him at home in his warm bedding,
But go he will at Hero's bidding.
Once more upon this wild adventure.
At her signal, he will venture.

Ah, Jupiter, behold,
The light burns in the tower,
The light that Hero holds
To bring Leander to her.
Leander sees ii gleam
Across the stormy gloom.
Could she not have passed
The night without her lover?
Ah, no, the Fates deliver
Leander to the tempest.

Night. Now angry Aeolus wounds
The defenceless ocean with rough winds.
The wind-lashed billows, tall and sheer,
Dash in foam on the open shore.
Leander, led by lovetike visions,
Faces the ocean without aversion.
All fear of the tides is overcome
For him by the thought of Hero's welcome.
Without fear he rushes into the abysm
Of waters and floats out on its bosom.
Gigantic waves rear and heave in
The vain ambition of storming heaven.
Wilder and wilder are the waters driven.
Flattened with blasts, with surges riven.
From every side the biusters assault
Till the sea is froth and the sky is salt.
Horrendously the shore rebellows
The growling thunder of ceaseless billows.
Amidst this tumult and wild uproar
Leander sent forth many a prayer.
The sea-sprung goddess, the ocean's Lord,
Venus and Neptune, he implored.
To Boreas and the Athenian maid
Likewise were his petitions made.
Leander begs them to vouchsafe
Him their aid and bring him safe
Out of the storm of surge and surf.
To all lie cries in his lime of need,
Hut that was a cry that all denied.
Heedless, helpless, he cried in vain.
Not Venus, not Neptune would intervene.
Nor would Boreas his blasts withhold,
But rather more and fiercer hurled.

Here I leave off the story.
The rest is history.
Leander will not reach the shore.
Of that you may be sure.
Though manfully he swam on.
Through the angry seas
His Hero's light he sees
That serves him as a guide.
But she, unhappy woman,
Grown weary at his delay,
Kept her guard
But negligently.
In fact .she drooped, and then she slept.
And from her hand
The bright torch slipped
And was extinguished
In the angry waves that washed
Below. In darkness left behind,
Leandei;, lost,
Struggled on to the last
Against the tide, against the blast,
But he could not beat off their harms
With weary legs and weary arms,
And after many a long meander
In the sea-ways drowned Leander.

The morning came and Hero stands
High in her tower, whose view extends
Widely along the open coast.
Just at that time the waters cast
Leander's body before her tower.
As if once more he had come to her.
Not at once did she comprehend
That he was held by death's rough hand.
But when he rose not from the sand.
Nor looked about, nor uttereo sound,
Too well she knew what had befallen
How from her hand the torch had fallen
When negligently she had slept.
Out of her tower has Hero leapt
In retribution for that deed.
Now with Leander she lies dead.

Niel Wright