Winter’s Comin’

Hesiod, Works & Days, 547-558.

Early mornings, from starry sky right down to land,
Mist, good for wheat, stretches across rich people’s fields.
It draws from the always-flowing rivers;
It rises high above the land on gusts of wind,
Sometimes making for evening rain,
Sometimes blowing as a thick mass of clouds
When the Thracian North Wind rushes pell mell.

Finish your work and get home before this,
Or the black cloud from the sky will enfold you,
Wetting your skin and drenching your clothes.
That’s to be avoided.

This is the hardest phase of the moon, winter.
Hard for cattle and hard for men too.

ψυχρὴ γάρ τʼ ἠὼς πέλεται Βορέαο πεσόντος
ἠώιος δʼ ἐπὶ γαῖαν ἀπʼ οὐρανοῦ ἀστερόεντος
ἀὴρ πυροφόρος τέταται μακάρων ἐπὶ ἔργοις·
ὅστε ἀρυσάμενος ποταμῶν ἄπο αἰεναόντων,
ὑψοῦ ὑπὲρ γαίης ἀρθεὶς ἀνέμοιο θυέλλῃ
ἄλλοτε μέν θʼ ὕει ποτὶ ἕσπερον, ἄλλοτʼ ἄησι
πυκνὰ Θρηικίου Βορέου νέφεα κλονέοντος.
τὸν φθάμενος ἔργον τελέσας οἶκόνδε νέεσθαι,
μή ποτέ σʼ οὐρανόθεν σκοτόεν νέφος ἀμφικαλύψῃ,
χρῶτα δὲ μυδαλέον θήῃ κατά θʼ εἵματα δεύσῃ.
ἀλλʼ ὑπαλεύασθαι· μεὶς γὰρ χαλεπώτατος οὗτος,
χειμέριος, χαλεπὸς προβάτοις, χαλεπὸς δʼ ἀνθρώποις.

Larry Benn has a B.A. in English Literature from Harvard College, an M.Phil in English Literature from Oxford University, and a J.D. from Yale Law School. Making amends for a working life misspent in finance, he’s now a hobbyist in ancient languages and blogs at

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