Friday, April 25, 2008

Translation - Vitai Lampada

Much as I have always liked Newbolt's poem, Vitai Lampada, I have never bestirred myself to bother with the title. A little investigation reveals that Vitaï Lampada is the torch of life and is from Lucretius' On the Nature of Things. Specifically it is to lines 75-79 of Book II:

Augescunt aliae gentes, aliae minuuntur,

inque brevi spatio mutantur saecla animantum

et quasi cursores vitai lampada tradunt.

Which translates as (from Sir Ronald Melville's translation published by the Folio Society, 2003):

Some races increase, others fade away,

And in short space the breeds of living creatures

Change, and like runners pass on the torch of life.

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