Bridge to Global Literature

Let’s all remember that more and more poetry gets lost without earnest attempts at translation.Read poetry here to get a glimpse of the rhythms and resonances of languages you don’t know.

Three poems from Martial (I:1, VI:60 and X:35)

Sep 30, 2022 | Poetry | 0 comments

It is an important occasion for all of us at The Antonym today. It is the International Translation Day ! To mark this occasion, we have been celebrating Translation Month throughout the month of September. As a part of that, a competition was announced wherein submissions were requested for translations of three poems from one’s mother tongue to English. We received an overwhelming number of submissions and we are happy to announce that we have chosen the four best entries! The following set of three epigrams attributed to Marcus Valerius Martialis more commonly known as Martial , originally written in Latin, and translated to English by Douglas Colston, is one among the selected entries.

Translated from the Latin by Douglas Colston

This discharges, produces, publishes, declares, causes, and elevates
any proposition law, precept, covenant, stipulation,
choice, appointment, gathering, or reading…
that requiring, seeking, requesting, or needing
Familiar, notorious, learned, and experienced
in the world?
That which relates to war, battle, and conflict.
Witty, clear-cut, eloquent, and melodious
inscriptions, epigrams, or estimates of damage?
Petitions and pamphlets.
To whom
or for what purpose?
Zealous, eager, anxious, or studious reader,
‘what’, ‘who’ or ‘why’
gives, offers, confers, surrenders, or adduces
survival, residence, and existence.
And perception, emotion, or opinion
that is scattered, uncommon or seldomly applied
Cold ashes and the ruins of burned cities.
Consider and maintain
those that are makers, inventors, lawgivers, authors, poets, and musicians.


Praising, lauding, extolling, commending, honoring,
eulogizing, complimenting, quoting, or citing
love, fondness, admiration, delight, contentment,
enjoyment, custom, thanks, or obligation
sings, enchants, or charms
our men.
My Roman Empire?
Pamphlets or petitions
universally the bosom of love, protection, and asylum—
all by my own good…
all possess, maintain and endure.
Blushing men are fearful, anxious and blanch,
stunned, hesitant, dazed, confounded, aghast, or astonished.
Yawn with weariness…
be averse to this.
I wish and intend—
at this very instant—
we compose verses
of our kindness, acceptance, hospitality, and satisfaction.


Young women were brought together, deputized, and sent forth
as ambassadors
by all female members of the Sulpicii clan.
Ones that desired grown men
were appeased.
All women of the Sulpicii clan
chose lovers or husbands.
Ones that desired peace or to be settled
These things are not magical, enchanting, liberating,
enslaving, protecting, thievery, enraging, madness-inducing,
fearful, ominous, dreadful, or detestable
Nor do they carry, answer, restore, revive, recall, credit or proclaim
myths and legends
(such as those related to Thyestes, Scylla, or Byblis) –
for no such credence, belief or confidence exists.
But guiltless, pure, and civilized
information, presentations, teachings, and instruction
plus excellent, able, honest, and virtuous
love, affection, and devotion
to an individual, one’s family, and one’s country
played as a game
is luxurious, delightful, charming, witty, pleasant, and humorous.
Whosever sings or writes
that which is agreeable, favorable, exact, good, or proper
is valued—
do not declare, state, or speak
in reference to being more worthless or wretched
and do not declare, state, or speak
in reference to being more sacred or venerable.
The great, excellent and distinguished
poems or songs—
including jokes, sports, amusements, and other pastimes—
exist to lubricate
trust, credence, commitment, and belief…
such as occurred in respect of the second king of Rome
before and after he was entombed.
a fellow female disciple—
and thus, a female teacher, mistress, or directoress—
giving forth, producing, publishing, disclosing, performing, and elevating
what is wiser, more learned and modest, virtuous and honorable
(including that associated with Sappho).
with you likewise—
and at the same time,
having seen and understood the oppressive, harsh, and unyielding nature
of those that are cared for without reciprocation –
be loving, thankful, grateful, and contented
without cause and for no purpose,
since proceeds neither a thundering spouse, wife, or consort
and not Bacchis nor Apollo.
A young woman rescues herself
and survives, lives, and resides
in the Way
(the ideal way of living one’s life).

Also, read the other winning entries for Translation Month, published in The Antonym:

Three Poems by Valerieo Grutt

Of a Clandenstine Pen— Vahé Godel

English Translations of Three Poems by Jibanananda Das


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Marcus Valerius Martialis (known in English as Martial /ˈmɑːrʃəl/; March, between 38 and 41 AD – between 102 and 104 AD) was a Roman poet from Hispania (modern Spain) best known for his twelve books of Epigrams, published in Rome between AD 86 and 103, during the reigns of the emperors Domitian, Nerva and Trajan.

Douglas Colston has played in Ska bands, picked up university degrees, developed chronic mental and physical illnesses after a sustained period of bizarre workplace harassment, supported his parents during terminal illnesses, married his love, fathered two great children, transitioned into Counselling as a vocation and lost his inheritance the old-fashioned way (embezzled by an evil uncle who died before he could be held accountable). Now, among other things, he is writing poetry, fiction and nonfiction … and pursuing a PhD. Some of his current and pending publication credits include works in various anthologies and online and tradition print journals including: A Poem A Day; Mercury Retrograde; The Seattle Star; Revue {R}évolution; Blue Unicorn; Impspired; Ygdrasil, A Journal of the Poetic Arts; POETiCA REViEW; New Note Poetry; Red Door Magazine; and New World Writing.


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