Elegy XVII: He tells Corinna he will always be her slaveIf there's a wretch, who thinks it is a shame,
To serve a lovely and a loving dame:
If such a slave he loads with infamy,
I'm willing he should judge as hard of me;
I'm willing all the world should know my shame
If Venus will abate my raging flame.
Let me a fair and gentle mistress have,
And then proclaim aloud that I'm her slave.
Beauty is apt to swell a maiden's mind,
And thus Corinna is to pride inclin'd:
But as she is above all maiden's fair,
What's pride in them is insolence in her;
Less fair I wish she was, or knew it less;
How learnt she, she is lovely by her face!
Her mirror tells her so, she often tries
Her mirror, and believes her charming eyes.
The looks she then puts on, are still her best,
And she ne'er uses it but when she's dress'd.
Though wide the empire of your beauties spread,
Beauty to draw my am'rous glances made:
Compare your servant's merit with your eyes,
You'll find no cause his service to dispise.
Don't think I press upon your pride too hard.
For little things may be with great compar'd:
We're told Calypso, an immortal pow'r,
Detain'd a mortal in th' Ogygian pow'r,
And when her pray'r to stay he would not grant,
So strong her love, she kept him by constraint.
A Nereid took the Pythian to her arms.
And Numa knew divine Egeria's charms.
Vulcan though lame, and of a form obscene,
Was oft made happy by the Paphian queen;
She matter'd not his limping, but approv'd
His flame, and saw no faults in him she lov'd
My verses are unequal like his feet,
Yet the long kindly with the shorter meet.
As they with them, why shouldst thou not with me
Comply, my life and my divinity !
Myself, when I am in thy arms, I'll own
Thy subject, and the bed shall be thy throne;
Thou there, my lovely queen, shall give me laws,
Nor in my absence, to rejoice have cause,
Nor ever shall my services be blam'd
Nor shalt thou of thy servant be asham'd.
My poetry's my purse, my fortun's there,
I have no other way to win the fair;
Nor is that way the worst; the brightest dames
Would in my verse immortalize their names.
My muse the place of an estate supplies,
And none that know her worth, her wealth despise.
Some tempted by Corinna's spreading fame,
In envy rob her, and usurp her name;
What would they give, d'ye think, to be the same ?
But neither could Eurotas, nor the Po,
With poplar shaded, in one channel flew;
By diff'rent, and by distant banks they glide,
Are rivers both, but various in their tide.
There are more beauties, but there's none like thine,
There are more versed, but thou hast only mine;
No other charms can e'er inspire my muse,
And other themes I with disdain refuse.