Ovid on the Dacian Coast
Publius Ovidius Naso relegatus non exsul
The Decree of Banishment
Airs from the sea blown back,
The salt wind dense with sedge,
In the surf the sea wrack,
And rocks ground at the world’s edge.
With shells, with bits of quartz,
With flints, with fragment bones,
Castaway, by dolphin arts,
He starts, translates the stones.
The marsh birds wheel and shriek
Above him, as he takes
Word after word from their bleak
Coast of love: his heart breaks.
ln place of gold, he sets
A banished life between
Driftwood, and out of fish nets
Roofs his loss with sea green.
Thus lives unexiled, though
Abandoned, stranded, scanned
By the Dog Star only, for so
Based, his poems are his own land.