Sumpsi animum, gratesque deo* non territus egi,
verbaque sum spectans plura locutus humum:
“dic, age, frigoribus quare novus incipit annus,
qui melius per ver incipiendus erat?
omnia tunc florent, tunc est nova temporis aetas,
et nova de gravido palmite gemma tumet,
et modo formatis operitur frondibus arbor,
prodit et in summum seminis herba solum,
et tepidum volucres concentibus aëra mulcent,
ludit et in pratis luxuriatque pecus.
tum blandi soles, ignotaque prodit hirundo
et luteum celsa sub trabe figit opus:
tum patitur cultus ager et renovatur aratro.
haec anni novitas iure vocanda fuit.”

* sc. Iano

(Ovid, Fasti 1.147-160)

I gained courage and thanked the god fearlessly,
And spoke these few words, gazing at the ground:
“Tell me why the new-year begins with cold,
When it would be better started in the spring?
Then all’s in flower, then time renews its youth,
And the new buds swell on the fertile vines:
The trees are covered in newly formed leaves,
And grass springs from the surface of the soil:
Birds delight the warm air with their melodies,
And the herds frisk and gambol in the fields.
Then the sun’s sweet, and brings the swallow, unseen,
To build her clay nest under the highest roof beam.
Then the land’s cultivated, renewed by the plough.
That time rightly should have been called New Year.”
(tr. Tony Kline)


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