Mosella by Ausonius
Translation by David Parsons
© May 2003 David Parsons
What colour are they now, thy quiet waters?
The evening star has brought the evening light,
And filled the river with the green hillside;
The hill-tops waver in the rippling water,
Trembles the absent vine and swells the grape
In thy clear crystal.
Helen Waddell (lines 192-5)
The work of a mistress of romantic language!
Compare my more pedestrian translation here. The pity is that Helen Waddell translated these lines and no more of the poem. Helen Waddell's own short life of Ausonius may be read here.
Ausonius used Latin hexameters throughout the poem.
I have broken it up into its natural divisions, given them titles,
and used different verse forms to add variety and, I hope, make reading more pleasant.
The pictures set among the lines of verse are partly my own photos
and partly images borrowed from the web.
I apologise if I have infringed anyone's rights.
Although Ausonius is not highly rated by critics,
I believe he was here writing as an eyewitness,
and to set images of what he was writing about beside the words is to bring out this point.
The original Latin can be found
In making this translation I have used a German edition by Walter John
which I bought in Trier, which would be very useful if I knew more than tourist German.
I also have the translation by Harold Isbell in The Last Poets of Imperial Rome,
Penguin 1971, which I have to say I found cursory and uninspiring,
sometimes just wrong - one reason for attempting a new version.
I shall be grateful to anyone who helps me by pointing out my own mistakes;
this is still 'work in progress.' David Parsons 23 June 2003.
Looking into the depths
Reflections in the River
Boatmen at Play
Some of the Villas Described
Tributaries of the Moselle
One day Ausonius will write of eminent Belgians
The Moselle flows into the Rhine
Ausonius on himself
There is so much more to sing
All other rivers will bow to the Moselle
Top of page