In George Buchanan
's allegorical idyll ‘Desiderium Lutetiae’ (written 1552, first published as the third of Buchanan's Silvae
in 1567), the poet, unhappy in Portugal, addresses his beloved Paris as ‘Amaryllis’, styling her a pastoral maid and himself a lovelorn pastoral swain called Daphnis. It was one of Buchanan's most famous poems (at least, among his secular poems) and Buchanan himself was for centuries Scotland's most famous writer—indeed, arguably he was sixteenth-century Europe's single most celebrated poet, although because he wrote in Latin he's more or less been forgotten now. Still: I needed a sense of this poem for an academic-y thing I was looking into, and couldn't find a translation anywhere (there's this
, and this
, but in neither case can I lay my hand on a copy of the actual books, and Google Books, as you can see, only gives us snippet views). So I had to gorblimey up a rough English version. Having done so, I thought I might as well blog it. It's a line-by-line translation, more or less. If anyone is reading this post (not
likely, I know) and wants to offer corrections on my translation, they would be very gladly received. I shan't be holding my breath, though.
O formosa Amarylli, tuo jam septima bruma
Me procul aspectu, jam septima detinet aestas:
Sed neque septima bruma nivalibus horrida nimbis,
Septima nec rapidis candens fervoribus aestas
Extinxit vigiles nostro sub pectore curas.
Tu mihi mane novo carmen, dum roscida tondet
Arva pecus, medio tu carmen solis in aestu,
Et cum jam longas praeceps nox porrigit umbras:
Nec mihi quae tenebris condit nox omnia vultus
Est potis occultare tuos, te nocte sub atra 
Alloquor, amplector, falsaque in imagine somni
Gaudia sollicitam palpant evanida mentem.
At cum somnus abit, curis cum luce renatis
Tecta miser fugio, tanquam mihi tecta doloris
Semina subjiciant, et solid moestus in agris
Qua vagus error agit feror, & deserta querelis
Antra meis, silvasque & conscia faxa fatigo.
Sola meos planctus Echo miserata gementi
Adgemit, & quoties suspiria pectore duco,
Hæc quoque vicino toties suspirat ab antro. 
Sæpe super celsæ prærupta cacumina rupis
In mare prospiciens, spumantia cœrula demens
Alloquor, & surdis jacto irrita vota procellis:
O mare! quæque maris vitreas, Nereides, undas
Finditis, in vestros placidæ me admittite portus:
Aut hoc si nimium est, nec naufragus ire recuso,
Dummodo dilectas teneam vel naufragus oras.
O quoties dixi Zephyris properantibus illuc,
Felices pulchram visuri Amaryllida venti,
Sic neque Pyrene duris in cotibus alas 
Atterat, & vestros non rumpant nubila cursus,
Dicite vesanos Amaryllidi Daphnidos ignes.
O quoties Euro levibus cum raderet alis
AEquora, dicebam, Felix Amaryllide visa,
Dic mihi, Num meminit nostri? num mutua sentit
Vulnera? num veteris vivunt vestigia flammæ?
Ille ferox contra rauco cum murmure stridens
Avolat irato similis, mihi frigore pectus
Congelat, exanimes torpor gravis alligat artus.
Nec me pastorum recreant solamina, nec me 
Fistula, Nympharumque leves per prata choreæ,
Nec quæ capripedes modulantur carmina Panes:
Una meos sic est prædata Amaryllis amores.
Et me tympana docta ciere canora Lycisca,
Et me blanda Melænis amavit, Iberides ambæ,
Ambæ florentes annis, opibusque superbæ:
Et mihi dotales centum cum matribus agnos
Ipsi promisere patres, mihi munera matres
Spondebant clam multa: meum nec munera pectus,
Nec nivei movere suis cum matribus agni, 
Nec quas blanditias teneræ dixere puellæ,
Nec quas delicias teneræ fecere puellæ.
Quantum ver hyemem, vietum puer integer ævi,
Ter viduam thalamis virgo matura parentem,
Quam superat Durium Rhodanus, quam Sequana Mundam,
Lenis Arar Sycorim, Ligeris formosus Iberum,
Francigenas inter Ligeris pulcherrimus amnes:
Tantum omnes vincit Nymphas Amaryllis lberas.
Sæpe suos vultus speculata Melænis in unda,
Composuit, pinxitque oculos, finxitque capillum, 
Et voluit, simul & meruit formosa videri.
Sæpe mihi dixit, Animi male perdite Daphni,
Cur tibi longinquos libet insanire furores?
Et quod ames dare nostra potest tibi terra, racemos
Collige purpureos, & spes ne concipe lentas.
Sæpe choros festos me prætereunte, Lycisca
Cernere dissimulans, vultusque aversa canebat
Hæc, pedibus terram, & manibus cava tympana pulsans;
Et Nemesis gravis ira, atque irritabile numen,
Et Nemesis laesos etiam punitur amores. 
Vidi ego dum leporem venator captat, echinum
Spernere, post vanos redeuntem deinde labores,
Vespere nec retulisse domum leporem nec echinum.
Vidi ego qui mullum peteret piscator, & arctis
Retibus implicitam tincam sprevisset opimam,
Vespere nec retulisse domum mullum neque tincam.
Vidi ego qui calamos crescentes ordine risit
Pastor arundineos, dum torno rasile buxum
Frustra amat, (interea calamos quos riserat, alter
Pastor habet,) fragiles contentum inflare cicutas. 
Sic solet immodicos Nemesis contundere fastus.
Hæc & plura Melænis, & hæc & plura Lycisca
Cantabant surdas frustra mihi semper ad aures.
Sed canis ante lupas, & taurus diliget ursas,
Et vulpem lepores, & amabit dama leænas,
Quam vel tympana docta ciere canora Lycisca
Mutabit nostros vel blanda Melænis amores,
Et prius æquoribus pisces, & montibus umbræ,
Et volucres deerunt silvis, & murmura ventis,
Quam mihi discedent formosae Amaryllidos ignes: 
Illa mihi rudibus succendit pectora flammis,
Finiet illa meos moriens morientis amores.
‘O lovely Amaryllis’: ‘O formosa Amarylli’ is Vergillian (Eclogue
1 line 5 praises formosam Amaryllida
, echoing Vergil’s Theocritan original, both the 3rd and 4th of whose Idylls
address ὦ χαρίεσσ᾽ ᾿Αμαρυλλί) as is Buchanan's pseudonym, Daphnis. The two lovely nymphs Melaenis and Lycisca are the Portuguese towns of Coimbra and Evora, where Buchanan spent most of his time, both of which offered him academic posts, but whose charms, though not negligible, are outshone in his opinion by those of the University of Paris. Likewise the generic pastoral rivers mentioned in the poem, Durius
are the Iberian rivers Douro, Mondego, Segre and Ebro. Here's my line-by-line Englishing:
Lovely Amaryllis! Seven winters gone
and seven long summers since I saw your face,
though endless sevens, wintry clouds of snow,
hot blasts of fervid summers, nothing
could ever quench the ardour in my breast.
You're the song I sing at dawn, as the flock returns
to crop the dew-wet grass; you at hot noon
and when the night is long and shadow stretches
night embalms everything, but not for me
since you're there, hidden behind the darkness: 
in dreams I talk to you, embrace you, share
the complex joys of my mind's idea of you.
When sleep is lost to day my cares are reborn
I leave the town—the houses blanks to me
units of subduing pain—and run through fields,
sad-hearted fugitive, hopeless escapee:
through caves, through woods I haul my weary thoughts.
Grieving Echo hears my rough-edged groans
and groans back at me to my chest's tempo,
the very caves sigh round me as I do. 
Sometimes I loiter on tall, rugged cliffs
watching a sky-blue sea thrash itself foam-mad
and yell my yearning at the deaf-eared storm:
“Carry me over waves of sea-coloured glass
Nereids, gently across to my safe harbour.
If safety's too much, I'm fine with shipwreck,
provided such dangers bring me to my love.
How often I've addressed the quick winds, saying:
You fortunate breeze, you
will see Amaryllis;
I pray no Pyrenees crags bruise your wings 
no clouds chafe you as you go rushing on
to tell Amaryllis of Daphnis’s wild desires.
How often I've asked Euro, as his wings
scrape foam from wavetops: is Amaryllis well?
does she still remember me? does she feel
the pain I do? Does our flame still live in her?
But the wild wind recoiled with a rasping
angry rush, dashed off, chilled the soul in my breast
seizing up my veins, freezing my helpless limbs.
Nor can I take comfort now in rural thoughts: 
meadow nymphs dancing to a shepherd’s pipe
nimble-footed, singing songs of feasting—
all tainted now by thoughts of Amaryllis.”
Lycisca taught me rhythms from the drum,
and gorgeous Melaenis is crowned with love;
both rightly proud of their youthful beauty.
And I've been promised a hundred fatted lambs
as dowry by their fathers, their mothers,
promising extra gifts. Pledges that don’t move me,
no matter that the lambs are white as snow; 
erotic words, low-spoken by these girls,
such promises could never change my mind.
Wizened winter to the boyish blush of spring—
that, times three, is how they fall short of my girl;
As Durius trumps the Rhone, Seine the Munda,
Sycoris than Saone, Ebro than the Loire,
(though the Loire is France’s loveliest river!)
so Amaryllis bests Iberian nymphs.
Melaenis saw her face in the waters' mirror,
her powder, painted eyes, her fine-dressed hair, 
thought to herself she was
the lovely one.
“Such agony” (she said), “in Daphnis’s soul!
Why waste your love on what is far away?
Why blank the attractions of our
black-and-purple grapes—why yearn for what's not here?”
I've watched Lycisca at the festival
Pretending I'm not there, sly-glancing, beating
her foot, pounding the hollow drum, singing:
“Nemesis is cruel, my lad, a wild god,
Nemesis will punish your transgressions. 
I've seen the hunter chase the hare, and ignore
the easy hedgehog, only to return hungry
at dusk, bringing home neither hare nor hog;
seen fisherman lay nets for deep-sea mullet
ignoring rich schools of small tench; returning
home at last with neither tench nor mullet.
And I, I sneered at basic reeds, desiring
instead the polished lathe-turned shepherd's flute
vainly wanting what I could not have, ignoring
slender hemlock: though it's fine for playing! 
So Nemesis works, crushing insolent pride.”
This (and more) Melaenis and Lycisca sang
to ears that were quite deaf to all their words.
Dogs shall love wolves and bulls shall yearn for bears
hares adore foxes and deers pair off with lions
before the rhythms of Lycisca’s music or
Melaenis’s smooth beauty change my love.
Fish will leave the sea and mountains lie down,
birds quit the woods, the winds give up their roar
before my Amaryllis ardour fades. 
She it was who lit these flames in my heart;
only when she dies will my death put them out.