In this post I’m trying out something new, which was a headache-inducing effort to render poetry with line numbers and indentation where appropriate. I’m not sure it will render in every browser under the sun, but I think it should work for most. I’m happy with the results. You can see how it was done, and perhaps add some suggestions for improvement on the page Formatting Poetry which I’ll keep as a permanent link in the upper right of the page.
And my experimental text is the Latin elegy with which Housman dedicated his Manilius to Moses Jackson.
HARVM LITTERARVM CONTEMPTORI
- Signa pruinosae variantia luce cavernas
- noctis et extincto lumina nata die
- solo rure vagi lateque tacentibus arvis
- surgere nos una vidimus oceano.
- vidimus: illa prius, cum luce carebat uterque,
- viderat in latium prona poeta mare,
- seque memor terra mortalem matre creatum
- intulit aeternis carmina sideribus,
- clara nimis post se genitis exempla daturus
- ne quis forte deis fidere vellet homo.
- nam supero sacrata polo complexaque mundum
- sunt tamen indignam carmina passa luem,
- et licet ad nostras enarint naufraga terras
- scriptoris nomen vix tenuere sui.
- non ego mortalem vexantia sidera sortem
- aeternosve tuli sollicitare deos,
- sed cito casurae tactus virtutis amore
- humana volui quaerere nomen ope,
- virque virum legi fortemque brevemque sodalem
- qui titulus libro vellet inesse meo.
- o victure meis dicam periturene chartis,
- nomine sed certe vivere digne tuo,
- haec tibi ad auroram surgentia signa secuto
- hesperia trado munera missa plaga.
- en cape: nos populo venit inlatura perempto
- ossa solo quae det dissoluenda dies
- fataque sortitas non immortalia mentes
- et non aeterni vincla sodalicii.
To get a sense for the value of reading a work like this, consider some of S.J. Harrison’s remarks:
The warm memory of common friendly activity with which the poem begins, recalling evening walks together long ago, echoes in general terms a poem from Ovid’s exilic verse, the nostalgic account of his youthful travels and talk with the poet Aemilius Macer in Ex Ponto 2.10; for Ovid and Macer as for Housman and Jackson, imitating Callimachus’ famous lament for his fellow-poet Heraclitus (Ep.2 Pfeiffer), the sun often set on their peripatetic conversations (Ex Ponto 2.10.37 saepe dies sermone minor fuit), and the frosty evenings of Housman’s starlit walks with Jackson also recall and invert Ovid’s imagined communing with his distant friend under the frosty sky of Tomis (2.10.48 gelido … sub axe).