Tag Archives: Phineus

Sonnet 15

Ha, qu’à bon droit les Charites d’Homere
Un faict soudain comparent au penser,
Qui parmi l’air peut de loin devancer
Le Chevalier qui tua la Chimere :
Si tost que luy une nef passagere
De mer en mer ne pourroit s’élancer,
Ny par les champs ne le sçauroit lasser,
Du faux et vray la prompte messagere.
Le vent Borée ignorant le repos,
Conceut le mien de nature dispos,
Qui dans le Ciel et par la mer encore
Et sur les champs animé de vigueur,
Comme un Zethés, s’envole apres mon cueur,
Qu’un Harpye en se jouant devore.
                                                                       Ah, how rightly the Graces of Homer
                                                                       Would compare a sudden deed to thought
                                                                       Which can far outrun through the air
                                                                       That Knight who killed the Chimaera :
                                                                       So quick, that a ship in its passage
                                                                       From sea to sea could not forge ahead of it
                                                                       Nor over land could the swift messenger
                                                                       Of truth and falsehood outrun it.
                                                                       The North Wind which never rests
                                                                       Conceived my [thoughts], by nature alert,
                                                                       Which in the heavens and by sea too
                                                                       And over land, vigorous and active
                                                                       Like Zetes, fly off after my heart
                                                                       Which a Harpy is playfully devouring.
Another of those complicated classical allusions which struggles to come to life. Homer does indeed compare swift deeds to the speed of thought; the Knight is Bellerophon whose flight on Pegasus to defeat the Chimaera is here recalled; the ‘swift messenger of truth and falsehood’ is Rumour, subject of a famous passge in Virgil’s Aeneid; Zetes is one of the sons of the North Wind; and the Harpies were the winged demons who came and stole all the food from Phineus’s table in the story of Jason and the Argonauts – – as featured in the Ray Harryhausen epic film !