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Elegy IV: That he loves all sorts of women.

Vice by my verse I never will defend,
Nor by false arms to fence my own pretend.
Frankly my failings I with shame confess;
To hide my errors would not make them less.
My faults, whate'er I suffer by't, I own,
That others, if they please, those faults may shun
I hate myself, my follies, and would fain
Be, were it in my pow'r, another man.
How difficult it is, ye righteous Gods,
Against our wills to bear such heavy loads.
I have not strength to guard myself from ill,
And, as I wish, to rule my wicked will.
I'm hurry'd on, as by the boistrous sea
The driving bark is swiftly borne away.
No certain form inflames my am'rous breast,
All beauty is alike to me the best;
A hundred causes kindle my desires,
And love ne'er wants a torch to light my fires.
When on the earth the modest virgin looks,
That very modesty of hers provokes;
And if I chance to meet a forward fair,
I'm taken with her frank and easy air:
I figure to myself a thousand charms,
A thousand raptures in her wanton arms.
If, like the damsels of the Sabine race,
She's rude, I look upon it as grimace;
That sullen as she seems at first, 'tis art,
That I the more may prize the conquest or her heart.
New joys, if she's a wit, I hope to find;
And with her body, to possess her mind:
If foolish, I in that can see no harm,
And in her very folly find a charm.
I know a maid so very fond, and dull,
To me she thinks Callimachus a fool.
I soon am pleas'd with one that's pleas'd with me,
Alike we in our taste and wish agree:
But if the fair my verses don't approve,
I bragging tell her, she will like my love;
If with her tongue, or with her heel she's brisk,
Her prattle pleases, and her gamesome frisk;
But if she's heavy, I suppose at night
She'll change, and prove, as I would have her, light,
The fair that sings, enchants me with her voice;
Oh, what a gust it gives a lover's joys!
When her shrill shakes afresh his bosom wound,
And from her lips he kisses off the sound;
When her soft fingers touch the silver strings,
And sweetly to the sounding lute she sings;
Who can resist such strong redoubled charms?
Her music melts me, as her beauty warms
If in the dance the nimble nymph I find,
And view how she her pliant limbs does wind,
How artfully she to the music moves,
I cry, "How happy is the man she loves!"
My humour, in a word, is plainly this,
All objects please, and nothing comes amiss.
To love, and be belov'd my sole employ:
Dispos'd to be enjoy'd, and to enjoy.
This lady for her length I like, her spread
Will swell my arms, and fill the joyous bed;
She's like the lusty heroines of old,
And with a strong embrace her lover will enfold.
This lass, because she's little, I approve;
The least are lightest in the sports of love.
With every size my passion does agree,
And tall and short are both alike to me.
I fancy, when undress'd I find the fair,
'Tis less her want of charms, than want of care.
If with her dishabille, I cry, " I'm pleas'd,"
How beauteous would she be if she were dress'd
And when she does her best apparel wear,
I think her riches in her pride appear.
The fair, the olive, are to me the same,
Alike the swarthy, and the sandy dame.
When her black curls adown her shoulders flow,
Such Leda's were, her skin as white as snow;
And when her golden locks her head adorn,
I straight compare her to the saffron morn.
My love with no complexion disagrees,
But all alike my ready passion please.
The younger by their bloom my heart secure,
The elder win it as they're more mature;
And though the younger may excel in charms,
The elder clasp you with experienc'd arms
What all the city like, is liked by me,
And I with them and all my loves agree.
I'm proud to be the rival of the town,
And to their taste will still conform my own.

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load focus Latin (R. Ehwald, 1907)
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hide References (3 total)
  • Commentary references to this page (2):
    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 85
    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 86
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