Greek Anthology 7.195 and 7.196
Translated by Steven J. Willett
Lychee and Cicada, sumi-e by Chao Shao’ang (1864~1957)
A silver cicada fibula, Roman 3rd century AD
Note: The cicada has a long history in Greek poetry that is matched by China and Japan in both their poetry and painting. Here in Japan we even have expensive gold-filmed cicada ink sticks for calligraphy and sumi-e.
G.A. 7.195 Cicada, beguiler of my passions, pacifier of sleep, Cicada, rustic Muse, a winged chirper, Nature’s mimic lyre, weave to me a longed-for tune, Beating with lovely feet your fluent wings That you may rescue me from pains of sleepless care, Cicada, weaving song to lure away love. At daybreak the gift of a fresh green leek I’ll give you, And dewy droplets sprayed from my own mouth. G.A. 7.196 Chirping cicada, drunken now on droplets of dew, You sing a rural tune that clatters the wilds Sitting on leaves at their very peak, with sawlike legs You shrill in sunburnt skin a lyre’s melody. But now, dear friend, voice new for woodland nymphs A merry chirp, response to Pan’s lyre stroke, That fleeing love, I may escape to noonday sleep Reclining here beneath a shady plane tree.
Speaking of “winged chirpers” and going wildly off topic, but this is a must see – Australian journalist takes on the always annoying “chirper” Greta Thunberg in a devastating rebuke:
Fast forward past her incessant whines, until you get to his commentary.
Wow, such adoration for cicadas! And with the promise of a succulent fresh green leek…
They’re not quite as pestilent as many people think — as the nymphs emerge from the soil, they create holes which aerate it, and eggs the females lay in branch tips effectively prune poor, weakened growth – both good from a landscaper’s POV. Plus birds feast on them (so do dogs). Even scientists refer to their loud, buzzing mating call as singing.
But for those who still regard them with more annoyance than adoration, there’s this: