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.