On the Nature of Things by Lucretius

Proem

Mother of Rome
you are the delight
of Gods and men
alike

Dear Venus
beneath the gliding stars
sending man
on his many-made
voyages
hand in hand
to fruitful lands
of living beings

Rising like the great
sun
Goddess
fleeing stormy seas
massy clouds
swaying
wind
and daedal Earth scented
flower bearing
waters
unvexingly deep

Your smile is
like the hollows of the
serene sky
glowing with diffused
radiance

The springtime
showing its face
the procreant gales
blowing from the
West

First fowls
taking to the
air
smitten by your heart
you tell all

O thou Divine

with your leaps
of wild herds
round the happy fields
seizing with spells
swimming
against the bounding
torrents
all creatures
must follow
you
wherever you lead

through seas mountains
streams-swiftly
through lofty leafy
homes of birds
and green plains

you kindle the love
of all beasts
bringing
forth generations one
after the next
guiding the cosmos

Without you there
is nothing
rising the shores
of light
joy
love
co-partnership
Nature’s composition

peerless in grace
in the very hour
divine one
give me the words
to speak
of your immortal
charming lulling
to sleep

Over the seas
and lands
the savage
ways of war
do plunder
power over
public peace
aiding mortality
the savage battling
of puissant Mars

The bosom flinging
its strength
over the eternal
world of love
eyes and throat
backwards
drowned
gazing
upwards
open-mouthed

Pastures of love
breathing
hanging
heavily on lips
reclining
filed with holy
body
rounding
pouring soft
lips syllabic

May there be peace
for thee Romans
glory
Lady

these seasons
trouble us
this state
in which we find
mine
the task
untroubling
thoughts
abound
to overcome
the illustrious
scion of the
Memmian
house
which so neglects
the cause of civility

Mankind
everywhere
crushed in misery
before the eyes
of Religion
showing its head
in the far regions
of the skies
glowering upon mortals
like some hideous face

The Greeks first
dared to raise
up and stand
unterrorized
in the flames
and fame
and inferno
of the gods lightning
striking
thunder resounding
upon the ominous sky

unabashed they were
angry they
had zestful daunting
hearts
rending
the crossbars at the
gates of the Natural
world

will and wisdom
won
forward they moved
beyond towards
the flaming ramparts
wandering
in the unmeasurable
All

Conquerors
reporting
what cannot be described
prescribing
scope and bounds
clinging deep in time

Religion under foot
finally the victory
is to be made
exhaulting in heavenly
parade

In these Latin verses
I do tell the dark
discoveries
of Grecian times
in this pauper-speech
one must find
something strange
but sweet
worthy of the time
taken in persuasion
bearing the soil
through the clear
nights
with words
and song
to the glorious
cloud
mist beyond
light there
is
the core of being
the centre hidden

Summon up
the courage
with unbusied
ears
and singleness
of mind
withdrawn
from the cares
of the worlds
to partake in these
gifts arranged
for your sake

The supreme
laws of Gods
and sky
the primordial gems
of things
multiply
that which Nature
has created
and fostered
will not be hindered

and in the end
each will be
overcome
in this ultimate
stock exchange
devised in name
of procreant atoms
matter
seeds of the world
primordial bodies
primal to the world

An impious road
we do go on
profaning
along the way
in the name
against religious
holy sacrimony
for the sake
of sacrality
in truth
be told

Aulis
Danaan counsellors
Diana’s altar
virgin queen
Agamemmnon’s daughter
all those slain
this is for thee

Feel the chaplet
round the maiden locks
fillets
fluttering on her cheek
the altar must be marked
with grief
the priest knife
concealed
in his breast
the dum-folk
forever jesting

The king’s father
his name let
it ring
with solemnity
in this hymeneal choir
sinful girl
a parent fallen
a child the sacrificial
burden
ships auspicious wind
for Troy
such are the war-cries
which our peace
shall over-joy

And so you shall
see the soothsayers
shall read
in their terror-tales
the concoctions
the dreams
the troubles and fortunes
of man’s bases fears
and reason

with no fixed
end in sight
they are strong
devices conquering
religion is one
of them

but the skills
and instruments
are our own
to do what we
can
we are not yet
dead we do not
yet scream out
in immortal pain
the soul
is known to those
who traverse
its course

whether born
or still in birth
whether snatched by
death
to die with us
or to visit the shadows
and caves
of Orcus
by divine decree

Enter thy brute herds
this is our Ennius song
who first
the lovely Helicon
brought
from
out with a laurel
wreath
bright perennial
leaves
renowned forever
these Italian
clannings

verse everlasting
praise be Acheron
phantom figures
strangeness emerging
Old Homer’s
ghost shedding
salt-tears
the earth clasping
at his heels

The night’s sky
law lies behind
wandering
course of planetary
interspersing
the mind
and soul what
a terrible break
emerging