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Elegy VI: To His Mistress's Porter, to open the gate to him. By an unknown hand.

Slave, if thou worthy of thy chains wouldst be,
A grateful office do to love and me.
Unbar the wicket, and a friend admit;
The trouble is not much, nor favour great.
I ask thee not to spread the foldings wide;
Keep it at jar,-I'll softly by thee slide.
I to love's labours have so long been us'd,
My shapes are to a lath's lank size reduc'd.
The smallest crevice will my bus'ness do,
It cannot be so straight but I'll slip through.
Love guides me when by night I walk the street,
And when I grope my way directs my feet.
By night I was a youth afraid to walk,
Frighted by children and old nurses' talk;
I wonder'd men could wander in the gloom,
And kept, for fear of spirits, close at home.
Love and his mother, when they knew my care,
Cried, "Fool, thou shalt not long these phantoms fear."
Nor fear'd I long, for love my heart possess'd;
Those visions vanish'd, and my terrors ceas'd:
Nor ghosts nor scourers did I dread, but stroll'd
The streets a-nights, and grew in peril bold.
Thee only do I fear, and trembling stand
To wait the motions of thy tardy hand:
With soft request thy succour I implore,
Nor sue to Jove nor dread the Thund'rer more.
See how the gate is moistened with my tears!
What marks of my impatient love it bears!
Remember, when thou for the lash wert stripp'd
Who sav'd thee, at whose suit thou wert not whipp'd.
Did not I sooth thy angry lady's mind,
And make thy peace? Be thou to me as kind.
Think what soft things to move her soul I said,
And let them in a lover's favour plead.
But ah! the tender things that made her kind,
Work no such wonders on thy cruel mind.
Wouldst thou my friendly offices repay,
Fate throws a fair occasion in thy way;
Unlock the gate, the morning will not stay.
Unlock the gate; and as thou'rt kind to me,
So may thy gentle lady prove to thee;
May she to loose thy hateful chains incline,
And stead of water, be thy portion wine.
But what avail my soothing words? Thy ear
Is deaf, inhuman! to my moving pray'r.
Your gates with posts of pond'rous oak are barr'd,
As if your house was for a siege prepar'd;
Why all this fence? what foe have you to fear?
And why in peace do you provide for war?
Thus rudely if your lady's friends you treat,
What usage must her foes expect to meet?
Unlock the gate,-the morning will not stay;
Unlock the gate, and give my love its way.
Or is it sloth or is it sleep that brings,
This let to love, and pinions down his wings!
Why else do I in vain repeat my prayer,
Is it, thou dost not, or thou wilt not hear?
When first I waited at thy gate, and thought
To 'scape thy care, I was at midnight caught.
With over-dilligence thou then look'st out,
To spy what lover was upon the scout.
These are wild guesses, thou'rt perhaps employ'd
More sweetly, and enjoy'st what I enjoy'd.
And while I'm waiting with impatience here,
Thy envied fortune's with the faithless fair.
Oh, for thy pleasure, give me all thy pains,
Let us change chances, and be mine thy chains.
Unlock the gate, the morning will not stay,
Unlock the gate, and kindness past repay.
Hark: or I dream, or on the hinge I hear
The wicket turn, or bolts unloosen'd jar.
I dream, indeed, the bolts as they were laid,
Stand fix'd: the noise was by my fancy made.
But all, alas! is hush'd, I hear no sound,
All in the silence of the night is drown'd.
Here, hopeless of admittance, I attend,
While on my head the pearly dews descend.
Unlock the gate, the morning will not stay,
Unlock the gate, I will no longer pray,
But force by sword and fire my readier way.
What need of fire or sword? myself alone,
More pow'rful, than or sword or fire am grown.
Around your heads shall flaming torches fly,
And Jove the house shall burn, as well as I.
Night, love, and wine encourage and inflame:
These triumph over fear, and that o'er shame.
All ways I've tried, but all successless prove,
Nor threats can fright thee, nor entreaties move;
Deaf to my pray'rs as to my tears thou'rt blind,
Thy gate is less obdurate than thy mind.
But see, the ruddy morn begins to rise,
And paints with rosy streaks the eastern skies,
While crowing cocks the lab'rer's sloth revile,
And summon wretches to their daily toil.
Throw then, fond man, thy fragrant chaplet by,
And let it at thy lady's threshold lie.
When in the morn thy faded flow'rs she spies,
Kind thoughts of me may in her bosom rise,
Perhaps she may resent her porter's crime,
And grieve that here so ill I spent my time.
Against me though thou shut'st thy lady's gate,
I cannot one, that serves my mistress, hate.
You both who did against my hopes rebel,
Ah, porter; and ah, cruel gate, farewell.

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load focus Latin (R. Ehwald, 1907)
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  • Cross-references to this page (2):
    • Harper's, Vitrum
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), DOMUS
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