An Adaptation of the Pyrrha Ode

Horace lends himself to endless reinvention. I've updated wine regions, cities, and idioms while translating his work. In his adaptation of the Pyrrha ode, Anthony Hecht brings in modern fashion slang making Pyrrha something of an uptown girl. I find this infinitely more appealing than the Milton version which reads as dated. I like how Anthony Lentin describes Pyrrha's style and grace in his preface to Horace's odes: "[her] liveliness and sophistication are purchased at cost of ephemerality and triviality." The Clairol and Gucci captures this spirit nicely. Ah, piranhas!


What well-heeled knuckle-head, straight from the unisex 
Hairstylist and bathed in "Russian Leather,"
Dallies with you these late summer days, Pyrrha,
In your expensive sublet? For whom do you
Slip into something simple by, say, Gucci?
The more fool he who has mapped out for himself
The saline latitudes of incontinent grief.
Dazzled though he be, poor dope, by the golden looks
Your locks fetched up out of a bottle of Clairol,
He will know that the wind changes, the smooth sailing
Is done for, when the breakers wallop him broadside,
When he's rudderless, dismasted, thoroughly swamped
In that mindless rip-tide that got the best of me
Once, when I ventured on your deeps, Piranha. 


Quis multa gracilis te puer in rosa
perfusus liquidis urget odoribus
grato, Pyrrha, sub antro?
cui flavam religas comam,

simplex munditiis? heu quotiens fidem
mutatosque deos flebit et aspera
nigris aequora ventis
emirabitur insolens,

qui nunc te fruitur credulus aurea,
qui semper vacuam, semper amabilem
sperat, nescius aurae
fallacis! miseri, quibus

intemptata nites! me tabula sacer
votiva paries indicat uvida
suspendisse potenti
vestimenta maris deo.

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