Friday, May 15, 2009

A Garden of Roman Verse in Los Angeles

Last weekend my husband and I visited Los Angeles to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary, and on Saturday we visited The Getty Center.

If you have never been there, you are missing one of the most beautiful modern public buildings in the world. I am a Westerner by birth and by temperament--I love wide open spaces, vistas that pile one on top of another in cascading ranges, light and air and openness and casualness.

The Getty Center (not to be confused with the Getty Villa, which we visited last year) has all of this in abundance...and it houses some of the world's greatest art...all free and open to the public (for a $10 parking fee).

After a tour focused on the architecture and building of the Center and a tour of the highlights of the collection, we lunched on the terrace overlooking Brentwood Hills. Then, we made a quick stop in the bookstore where I found a treasure of a souvinier--A Garden of Roman Verse

A Garden of Roman Verse is published by the J. Paul Getty Musuem, and it is truly a labor of love. You don't see books of this quality everyday! The paper stock is heavy and holds the colors of the mosaics and frescos beautifully. Each poem is chosen with care and each page provides a poem by Catullus, Virgil, Horace or Ovid, in Latin, and then a translation of it by the likes of Sir Walter Raleigh, John Dryden, and Lord Byron, to name a few. Even Branwell Bronte has a poem attributed to him in this volume.

I'm about halfway through it and my favorite thus far is John Dryden's:
Happy the man, and happy he alone,
He who can call today his own:
He who, secure within, can say,
Tomorrow do thy worst, for I have lived today.
Be fair or foul or rain or shine
The joys I have possessed, in spite of fate, are mine.
Not Heaven itself upon the past has power,
But what has been, has been, and I have had my hour.

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