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Meleager: Modern English Translations by Michael R. Burch

Meleager was a Greek poet who lived during the first century BC (circa 140-70 BC). Meleager is most famous today for The Garland, an anthology he compiled from epigrammatic poems of his era and earlier. In his preface Meleager assigned each poet the name of a flower, shrub or herb (hence the title and the term "anthology," which means "flower collection"). This work was subsumed into what has become known as The Greek Anthology. In his commentary on The Greek Anthology, editor and translator J. H. Merivale said that as a composer of epigrams Meleager was "very far superior" to the authors he included in The Garland.

If I am Syrian, what of it?
Stranger, we all dwell in one world, not its portals.
The same original Chaos gave birth to all mortals.
—Meleager, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Love, how can I call on you;
does Desire dwell next to the dead?
Cupid, that bold boy, never bowed his head to wail.
—Meleager, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Love, I swear,
your quiver holds only empty air,
for all your winged arrows, set free,
are now fixed in me.
—Meleager, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Love, if you incinerate my soul, touché!
For like you she has wings and can fly away!
—Meleager, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

When I see Theron everything’s revealed.
When he’s gone all’s concealed.
—Meleager, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

When I see Theron everything’s defined;
When he’s gone I’m blind.
—Meleager, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

When I see Theron my eyes bug out;
When he’s gone even sight is in doubt.
—Meleager, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Mother-Earth, to all men dear,
Aesigenes was never a burden to you,
thus rest lightly on him here.
—Meleager, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Meleager dedicates this lamp to you, dear Cypris, as a plaything,
since it has been initiated into the mysteries of your nocturnal ceremonies.
—Meleager, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

I know you lied, because these ringlets
still dripping scented essences
betray your wantonness.
These also betray you—
your eyes sagging with the lack of sleep,
stray tendrils of your unchaste hair escaping its garlands,
your limbs uncoordinated by the wine.
Away, trollop, they summon you—
the reveling lyre and the clattering castanets rattled by lewd fingers!
—Meleager, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Moon and Stars,
lighting the way for lovers,
and Night,
and you, my mournful Mandolin, my bosom companion ...
when will we see her, the little wanton one, lying awake and moaning to her lamp?
Or does she embrace some other companion?
Then let me hang conciliatory garlands on her door,
wilted by my tears,
and let me inscribe thereon these words:
"For you, Cypris,
the one to whom you revealed the mysteries of your revels,
Meleager,
offers these spoiled tokens of his love."
—Meleager, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Tears, the last gifts of my love,
I send drenching down to you, Heliodora.
Here on your puddling tomb I pour them out—
soul-wrenching tears
in memory of affliction,
in memory of affection.
Piteously, so piteously Meleager mourns you,
you still so precious, so dear to him in death,
paying vain tributes to Acheron.
Alas! Alas! Where is my beautiful one, my heart's desire?
Death has taken her from me, has robbed me of her,
and the lustrous blossom lies trampled in dust.
But Mother-Earth, nurturer of us all ...
Mother, I beseech you, hold her gently to your bosom,
the one we all bewail.
—Meleager, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Love, the cuddly baby
safe in his mother's lap,
chucking the dice one morning,
gambled my soul away.
—Meleager, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

I lie defeated. Set your foot on my neck. Checkmate.
I recognize you by your weight;
Yes, and by the gods, you’re a load to bear.
I am also well aware
of your fiery darts.
But if you seek to ignite human hearts,
Fuck off with your tinders;
mine’s already in cinders.
—Meleager, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Silence!
They must have carried her off!
Who could be so barbaric,
to act with such violence,
to wage war against Love himself?
Quick, prepare the torches!
But wait!
A footfall, Heliodora's!
Get back in my bosom, heart!
—Meleager, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

References for these translations: W. R. Paton

The following are links to other translations by Michael R. Burch:

The Seafarer
Wulf and Eadwacer
The Love Song of Shu-Sin: The Earth's Oldest Love Poem?
Sweet Rose of Virtue
How Long the Night
Caedmon's Hymn
Anglo-Saxon Riddles and Kennings
Bede's Death Song
The Wife's Lament
Deor's Lament
Lament for the Makaris
Tegner's Drapa
Whoso List to Hunt
Ancient Greek Epigrams and Epitaphs
Meleager
Sappho
Basho
Oriental Masters/Haiku
Miklós Radnóti
Rainer Maria Rilke
Marina Tsvetaeva
Renée Vivien
Ono no Komachi
Allama Iqbal
Bertolt Brecht
Ber Horvitz
Paul Celan
Primo Levi
Ahmad Faraz
Sandor Marai
Wladyslaw Szlengel
Saul Tchernichovsky
Robert Burns: Original Poems and Translations
The Seventh Romantic: Robert Burns
Free Love Poems by Michael R. Burch

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