Elegy XIV: He comforts his mistress for the loss of her hair by the means she took to beautify it. By an unknown hand.I us'd to warn you, not with so much care,
And waste of ointment, to adorn your hair:
That warning now is useless, you have none,
And with your hair that trouble too is gone.
Where are the silken tresses, which adown
Your shoulders hung? A web was never spun
So fine, but, ah! those flowing curls are gone.
Ah fatal art! ah fatal care, and pains!
That robb'd me of the dearest of my chains.
Nor of a black, nor of a golden hue
They were, but of a dye between the two.
How could you hurt, or poison with perfume,
Those curls that were so easy to the comb?
That to no pains expos'd you, when you set
Their shining tresses for young hearts a net?
That ne'er provok'd you with your maids to war,
For hurting you with your entangled hair?
You ne'er were urg'd to some indecent fray,
Nor in a fury snatch'd the comb away.
The teeth ne'er touch'd you, and her constant care,
Without ill arts, would have preserv'd your hair.
Behind your chair I oft have seen her stand,
And comb and curl it with a gentle hand:
Oft have I seen it on your shoulders play
Uncomb'd, as on your purple bed you lay.
Your artless tresses with more charms appear,
Than when adorn'd with all your cost and care.
When on the grass the Thracian nymphs recline,
Of Bacchus full, and weary of their wine,
Less lovely are their locks, than yours, less fair
The ringlets of their soft dishevell'd hair:
Softer was thine, like fleecy down it felt,
And to the finger did as freely yield,
How didst thou torture it, the curls to turn,
Now with hot irons at thy toilet burn?
This rack, with what obedience did it bear?
"Ah spare," I cried, "thy patient tresses spare!
To hurt them is a sin: this needless toil
Forbear, and do not, what adorns thee, spoil.
'Tis now too late to give your labour o'er,
Those tortur'd ringlets are, alas ! no more.
Ah, cease the cruel thought, and cease to pass
Such irksome minutes at your faithful glass !
In vain thou seek'st thy silken locks to find;
Banish the dear remembrance from thy mind.
No weeds destroy'd them with their pois'nous juice,
Nor canst thou witches' magic charms accuse,
Nor rival's rage, nor dire enchantment blame,
Nor envy's blasting tongue, nor fever's flame.
The mischief by thy own fair hands was wrought;
Nor dost thou suffer for another's fault.
How oft I bade thee, but in vain, beware
The venom'd essence, that destroy'd thy hair?
Now with new arts thou shalt thy pride amuse,
And curls, of German captives borrow'd, use.
Drusus to Rome their vanquish'd nation sends
And the fair slave to thee her tresses lends.
With alien locks thou wilt thy head adorn,
And conquests gain'd by foreign beauties scorn.
How wilt thou blush, with other charms to please,
And cry, "How fairer were my locks than these !"
By heav'ns, to heart she takes her head's disgrace,
She weeps, and covers with her hands her face.
She weeps, as in her lap her locks she views;
What woman would not weep, such locks to lose!
Ah, that they still did on her shoulders flow,
Ah, that they now, where once they grew, did grow!
Take courage, fair Corinna, never fear,
Thou shalt not long these borrow'd tresses wear:
Time for your beauty shall this loss repair
And you again shall charm with native hair.