οι μεν ιππηων στροτον οι δε πεσδων
οι δε νᾱων φαισ' επι γᾱν μελαινᾱν
εμμεναι καλλιστον εγω δε κην' οτ-
τω τις ερᾱται
παγχυ δ' ευμᾱρες συνετον ποησαι
παντι τουτ΄ ᾱ γαρ πολυ περσκεθοισᾱ
καλλος ανθρωπων Ελενᾱ Ϝον ανδρα
τον μεγ' αριστον
τᾱς κε βολλοιμᾱν ερατον τε βᾶμα
κᾱμαρυχμα λαμπρον ιδην προσωπω
ὴ τα Λῡδων αρματα κᾱν οπλοισι
translated from Ancient Greek by Naomi Bernstein
Some call a thousand men on horseback
some call a thousand on foot
some a fleet of white sails growing
the loveliest sight on this black earth.
Quite clear it seems
when we think of her
wandering away, over water
forgetting fine husband, forgetting
in the instant love
touched her lightly.
which reminds me
who is gone.
This is the third draft of the translation that I did for Taije Silverman's class "The Translation of Poetry and the Poetry of Translation." As with all translations, I was trying to strike a balance between evoking the tone I wanted (more modern, but still somber) while staying true to the poem, which was originally written in Ancient Greek.
NAOMI BERNSTEIN is a senior studying creative writing at Penn.