Elegy XVIII: To Macer, blaming him for not writing of love as he did.While, Macer, you Achilles' choler sing,
And Greece before the walls of Ilium bring;
While feats of arms in Phrygian fields you tell,
And how old Tory by Grecion vengeance fell;
I my soft hours in softer songs employ,
And all my leisure give to love and joy.
When to high acts, my voice I strive to raise,
Love laughs at my attempt, and mocks my lays;
"Begone!" I often to my mistress cry,
But have not courage, yet, myself to fly.
Whene'er she sees me in this sullen fit,
She fondles me, and, on my knee will sit:
"Enough of this (say I), for shame give o'er,
Enough of love, we'll play the fool no more."
" Ah, is it then a shame to love?" she cries,
And chides, and melts me with her weeping eyes.
Around my neck her snowy arms she throws,
And to my lips with stifling kisses grows.
How can I all this tenderness refuse ?
At once my wisdom, and my will I lose;
I'm conquer'd, and renounce the glorious train
Of arms, and war, to sing of love again:
My themes are acts, which I myself have done,
And my muse sings no battles but my own.
Once I confess I did the drama try,
And ventur'd with success on tragedy;
My genius with a moving scene agrees,
And if I ventured further I might please:
But love my heroics makes a jest,
And laughs to see me in my buskins drest.
Asham'd, and weary of this tragic whim,
For tender thoughts I quitted the sublime.
My mind my mistress bends another way,
Her must my muse in all her songs obey;
Though oft I do not what I write approve,
Like, or not like it, I must sing of love.
Whether for Ithaca's illustrious dame,
To great Ulysses I a letter frame,
Or for Oenone tender things indite,
Or soft complaints for injur'd Phillis write;
Whether fair Canace's incestuous care
I sooth, or flatter Dido's fierce despair;
Whether I fan Medea's raging fire,
Or for sweet Sappho touch the Lesbian lyre;
Whether I Phaedra's lawless love relate,
Or Theseus' flight and Ariadne's fate:
Oh, that Sabinus, my departed friend,
Could from all quarters now his answers send!
Ulysses' hand should to his queen be known,
And wretched Phaedra hear from Theseus' son;
Dido Aeneas' answer should receive,
And Phillis Demophoon's, if alive;
Jason should to Hypsipyle return
A sad reply, and Sappho cease to mourn:
Nor him whom she can ne'er possess, desire,
But give to Phoebus fane her votive lyre.
As much as you in lofty epics deal,
You, Macer, show that you love's passion feel,
And sensible of beauty's powerful charm,
You hear their call amid the noise of arms.
A place for Paris in your verse we find,
And Helen's to the young adult'rer kind;
There lovely Laodamia mourns her lord,
The first that fell by Hector's fatal sword.
If well I know you, and your mind can tell,
The theme's as grateful, and you like as well
To tune your lyre for Cupid as for Mars,
And Thracian combats change for Paphian wars;
If well I know you, and your works design
Your will, you often quit your camp for mine.