W.S. Merwin translates Antiphilos (1st century A.D.). It’s a poem addressed to a lady and transmits three gifts: a tunic, some wool and some perfume. Merwin (in Selected Translations: 1968-1978) concludes this poetic gift giving thus
[…] I want the first to enfold your body.
the wool to draw out the skill of your fingers,
the scent to find its way through your hair.
Merwin’s translation first appeared in Peter Jay’s The Greek Anthology and Other Ancient Epigrams. The library of Victoria College in the University of Toronto has in its special collections Northrop Frye’s annotations to Jay’s edition. The poem by Antiphilos receives no annotation. But there is all this…
Frye draws a line in the margin near Peter Jay’s introduction to Plato’s poems on the boy Aster (Star).
Shelly thought the second the most perfect of epigrams and used it as an epigraph for his Adonais.
On page 45, the epigram in question as translated by Peter Jay
You were the morning star among the living:
But now in death your evening lights the dead.
Page 129 Peter Jay on Meleager (no annotation but a line at the beginning of the notice)
Meleager has been accused of being too literary a poet, or too ingenious to be ‘sincere’; but the authenticity is in the complete control of his medium, the subtle modulations of style and sureness of touch.
Page 285 — a check mark by 644 by Palladas (translation by Tony Harrison).
Born naked. Buried naked. So why fuss?
All life leads to that first nakedness.
There are an number of other poems by Palladas as translated by Tony Harrison with checks or ticks.
Appendix 2. A set of various translations of a poem by Palladas. Frye draws a bracket besides the version by Adrian White and writes in the margin “this is it”. An notation as ambiguous as White’s version.
A wife will always anger you, but brings
two gifts: her first love and last gasp.
Most of the other versions rhyme “bed” with “dead” (Tony Harrison’s very successful bed-dead number is placed by Peter Jay in the stream of entries and not reproduced in the appendix). Worth a mention is Robin Skelton’s version which doesn’t quite manage the shading of sexual ecstasy into death throes that White gives but is less crude than some of the other offerings.
A woman is a maddening creature
and gives pleasure twice at most,
once when she gives up her virture,
once when she gives up the ghost.
Of course one wonders if Frye shared his appreciation of the epigram with Helen Kemp, his wife. One wonders if he brought to her tunic, wool and nard.
And so for day 1127