The Works And Days, a new translation of Hesiod

A translation of Hesiod‘s masterpiece, The Works and Days originally published circa 700B.C.

part ONE

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.

Sit down, allow me to conjure muses and show I have with skill

Direct me dearest Zeus to distill spirited directions

Muses, loosest lips of the sky, come to me now if it is your will

.

Enough formality, have a seat and listen,

I speak to you, Perses, my dear brother

The relation is tight so I share now the truest way to be existent

.

Always, there has been

two ways to love Her, that is your Mother Earth:

Both are full of strife, longing, sadness, and high madness

.

The two rough strifes standing in successes’ way;

One is full with trouble, fighting, and grief

Healthy is the other, full of spirited competition.

.

Not let mischief sway your ideals of defeating quarrels, so

stay always within yourself and

only of that business which you know, for

.

Your time will be shortened by sad-sacking neighbor’s woes

we are powerless to truly understand, stopping your own crop tilling—cold.

And of your own garden no one freely knows.

.

If your goods are in surplus of a year

then you are free to scheme

for the goods of other humans

Though I will warn, being clever is an illusion of a fool’s ear.

.

Barons before you haven’t learned

with foolish bribes and bastardization, remember

Easier is not better

.

Live highly in deed off of herb, mallow, and asphodel only

For there is no easy way

since

Prometheus trickster-snatched fire from our father, Zeus, The Mighty and Holy

.

For the conniving plot to cut working man’s corners

our Father crafted for all men to fondle evil close to their hearts,

the Woman; gifted to men as wicked foreigners.

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Called Woman, Eve, or even Beauty, Athene

taught all daughters to intricately sew

everything delightful appearing as good though merely man’s dream.

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Hallowed Persuasion adorned daughters with jewelry of gold

upon their beautiful bodies so bold

to be the sorrow of men

as foretold

.

Pandora was Her name chosen by Zeus

Before this races of men lived in great peace, and free from laborious work

From the great jar, Her hands—let everything loose.

.

Opening sickness and disease to scatter

From this there is no way to escape

Downhill the world has rolled ever since with dark matter; police blotter, and blood splatter

.

The Golden Age lived like Gods, no old age troubled their minds (now they are spirits)

Followed by Silver; far worse than previous Gold, living as children for a hundred years,

not able to resist recklessness

against each other,

Fierce Bronze People walked next, ghastly non-bread eaters and violently strong born of ashen spear,

taking Ares as their King but eventually  plummeting down to Hades

The Fourth Generation was better; thus the Great Age of Heroes

battling at Thebes and Troy

now residing in the far west even to now

at the far end of our world

The Fifth and generation of now is of the fertile Earth

I wish it were not true that we have been born of this age

anxieties are sent by Gods above

troubling us with daytime labors and night time worries

This is truly the weary stage;

children grow grey hairs,

the father and son will disagree,

guest not any longer one with host,

when your brother is no longer the friend,

without shame, the strong man seeks the cities of another

of evil and violence we will at once give praise and boast

the vile man will crowd otherness and gain power,

by twisting His-story and holding land

with a created military post.

Transforming pillar from post, a new Holy Ghost.

.

Our Age will become that of brutish and thuggish Force

Envy, delighter of Evil’s grim clutches grab hold of our throats

pretending for the wicked age to be companion’s tragically pretty white horse

.

Zeus will destroy this wretched fifth age too

though before we are all through—some words I offer to my dearest brother: you,

.

Live not off of their force, my brother

Only seek justice; for even the noblest of warriors cannot stomach violence’s heavy burden

This road is far better: that of our Earth Mother

.

Judges wielding lecherous crooked decisions come fast

cheating, wrong doing,

breeding sorrowful meetings

will come at long last, casting off those not on the righteous path

.

The community walking the above with pride

own cities which blossom inside

Peace, who brings boys to manhood, is in their land—worldwide

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Thirty thousand spirits strong of Zeus’ eyes reside on Earth

Keeping watch over all that men do

The Golden Age may return: a spiritual rebirth

If you are one such spirit I hope to thank you: peer review

.

Straighten your decisions, eaters of bribes

banish from your minds the twisting of justice whom is a young maiden

The man dealing in evil involves himself in evil dealings,

instead listen and speak only goodish vibes

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Questioning why do good when bad men will do better?

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Beasts did not receive the justice that only man may receive

If following this advice to the letter

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“I mean you well, Perses, you great idiot,

And I will tell you.

Look, badness is easy to have, you can take it

by handfuls

without effort. The road that way is smooth

and starts here beside you.”

The other path is steep,

Leading to a summit’s suite  success.

.

The best man develops this formula for himself

The next best is able to follow as he is told,

While the one not hearing, reading, or understanding is useless;

In and of truth itself

And of your own destiny–quickly and without slight hesitation, take hold.

.

Always be the worker if you are to eat the honey

Bees and gods hate those filling their barn with other’s hay

Idleness is a disgrace; allow your talents to pull in your cash money

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Intelligence is often blind to the people,

shameless spirits steal their goods by greedy

tongues full of lies and lust,

Never mindlessly trample upon the needy

or watch humanity slowly decay away and rust…

.

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10 comments

  1. very nice and thought out

  2. NC Coot

    Wow. Excellent. So direct and and simple and true. You nail the Greek literary spirit.

  3. Not to be read but once, I will let this roll down my mind and enjoy…thank you.

  4. Greeting… vermit to visit ;-)
    great thought you have.

  5. This is so beautiful and so full of wisdom

    “..Always be the worker if you are to eat the honey

    Bees and gods hate those filling their barn with other’s hay..”
    wow marvelous

  6. free penny press

    wonderful…much enjoyed this!

  7. This is Heady Stuff, my Friend…I easily sense your heart-concern for others. That’s how we should be. Compassion is hard to find in this world. Someone said: “Random acts of kindness are the rarest thing in our world-and have the Most Impact in a Life…”

  8. I have to say that this has become my favorite poem of all time. As a poet, you know that is hard to admit. You’re stories are fun, engaging, and surprising, but your poetry- is beauty pounded down with truth, meaning, and lessons to be taken from the page and carried out through life. Through your poems I see a real, true philosopher and a madman with words. A madman with the ability to communicate heavy, classic, and purposeful information with the most unexpected but perfectly assigned words… to anyone’s ears, to be appreciated for sound, rhythm, meaning, emotion, clarity, or education. My favorite poem. My favorite poet.

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