Elegy I: The Poet deliberates with himself whether he should continue writing elegies, or attempt tragedy.Unhurt by steel, arose an ancient wood,
A mansion fit for some retiring god;
With craggy stones a secret grot was hung,
And in the midst a sacred fountain sprung;
The courting birds repeating songs of love,
With soft complainings sweetly fill'd the grove:
Here wand'ring thoughtful, and intent to choose
Some theme unsung, to please the busy muse;
Fair elegy came on with gentle pace,
Unforc'd her air and easy was her grace.
Her flaxen hair, in curious tresses wreath'd,
Ambrosial sweets and heav'nly odours breath'd;
A simple dress the careless charmer bore,
And loving looks, and smiles unartful wore.
Next came the goddess of the tragic scene,
With stately tread, and proud majestic mien
Her front severe, with hanging curls was drown'd,
Her length of robe was full, and swept the ground:
Her hand held out, a regal sceptre grac'd,
And Lydian buskins half her legs embrac'd.
She first; "Must love for ever tune thy voice,
Fond idle bard, and trifling in thy choice
Thy wanton songs employ the drunkard's tongue,
In ev'ry street thy ribald lays are sung;
The finger marks thee in thy passing by,
'Behold, where goes the slave of love,' they cry.
Thy lewd exploits, thou profligate, are grown
The public theme, and talk of all the town;
Whilst unconcern'd, and lost to sense of shame,
Thou still runn'st on nor mind'st thy ruin'd fame.
Enough thou'st told the plaints of fond desire,
Now let a nobler inspiration fire;
Thy matter cramps thy genius, learn to find
A manly subject, and exert thy mind.
In songs for girls, fond toys, and idle play,
Thy muse has wanton'd all her hours away.
But youth at length has fill'd its measure up;
My friend, 'tis time to taste of t'other cup.
Now in my service let thy force be shown,
Assert my honour, and retrieve thy own;
Thy sprightly fancy, and inventive wit,
The lofty style of tragic scenes will fit."
She said; and proudly rising in her gait,
Thrice shook her tresses, and display'd her state.
With open look (nor was my sight beguil'd)
And joyous eyes her rival sweetly smil'd;
Sustain'd her hand a myrtle branch upright?
Or did my fancy form the charming sight?
"Still so severe, 0, tragedy ! (she cried);
And canst thou ne'er forego thy sullen pride?
I not compare my lowly lays to thine;
Too weak materials for the vast design.
The style unlabour'd, negligent the dress,
My verse is humbler, and my matter less.
Gay, wanton, soft, my business is to move,
With melting strains, the playful god of love.
Bereft of me, fair Venus wants her charms,
I help the goddess, and prepare her arms.
My luring art, and soothing lays prevail,
Where lofty port, and tragic buskins fail.
I more deserve, by making that my care,
Thy rigid pride allows not thee to bear:
By me, Corinna first was taught to try
Tobreak from prison, and deceive the spy;
I first induc'd the fearful fair to slide
With tremb'ling caution from her husband's side;
When to thy arms, all loose, and disarray'd,
Prepar'd for pleasure, flew the melting maid.
Fix'd on her door, how oft I've hung on high,
Expos'd, and patient of each gazing eye !
How oft, in secret, while the keeper stay'd,
Within her woman's panting bosom laid !
Once sent a birthday gift, the cruel dame
In pieces tore, and gave me to the flame.
I taught thee first to cultivate thy mind;
Thy fancy brightened, and thy wit refin'd;
Thou to my care those merits must allow,
For which my rival would seduce thee now;"
They spoke. I answer'd, "Let me both conjure
To spare a mind with terrors unsecure;
Nor to my charge, when once pronounc'd, be laid
As crimes, the words my trembling tongue has said.
To gain me glory, thy decrees ordain
The regal sceptre and the tragic strain;
With painful labour need I toil for fame,
When easier tasks already raise my name?
Thou mak'st my love immortal; thee I choose:
Be thou my queen, and still command my muse.
Majestic pow'r, forgive my simple choice,
Thy gentle rival has obtain'd my voice.
Short is the time in which her palm is won;
Ere thine is gain'd, the poet's life is done."
I lowly said: she gracious gave assent,
And diff'rent ways the parting rivals went.
Ye gentle loves, complete the work assign'd,
A greater labour seems to press behind.
Elegy II: To his Mistress at the horse-race. By Henry Cromwell.Not in the Circus do I sit to view
The running horses, but to gaze on you;
Near you I choose an advantageous place,
And whilst your eyes are fix'd upon the race,
Mine are on you -- Thus do we feast our sight,
Each alike pleas'd with objects of delight;
In softer whispers I my passion move,
You of the rider talk, but I of love.
When, to please you, I straight my subject quit
And change my wishes to your favourite;
Oh. might I ride, and be so much your care,
I'd start with courage from the barrier,
And with a swift short compass brush the goal --
Unless the sight of you my course restrains,
And makes my hands forego the loosen'd reins;
As Pelops gaz'd on Hippodamia's face,
Till he had almost lost th' important race;
Yet he his mistress by her favour won;
So may our prize assist us when we run.
"What mean these starts? you must not, can't remove:
This kind auspicious place was fram d for love.
I fear you're crowded,- Gentlemen, forbear,
Pray let your arms and knees the lady spare;
Madam, your gown hangs down-nay, pray let me --
Oh heav'ns ! what fine, what curious legs I see!
Sure, who Diana in a forest drew,
Copied in this the graceful'st parts from you;
Such Atalant discovering as she ran,
What rapt'rous wishes seiz'd Menalion
I burn'd and rag'd before -- what then are these,
But flames on flames, and waters to the seas?
By these a thousand other charms are guess'd,
Which are so advantageously suppress'd.
Oh for some air! this scorching heat remove,
Your fan would do't, but 'tis the heat of love."
But now the pomp appears, the sacred throng
Command applauses from the heart and tongue;
First victory with expanded wings does move,
Be near, O Goddess ! to assist my love;
To Mars let warriors acclamations raise,
The merchants' tongues resound with Neptune's praise;
Whilst I, whom neither seas nor arms invite,
In love alone, the fruit of peace, delight;
To their Apollo let the prophets pray,
And hunters to Diana homage pay.
Let the mechanics to Minerva vow,
Rustics to Ceres, and to Bacchus bow;
Whilst I devote myself to thee alone,
Kind Venus, and the pow'rful god thy son;
0 be propitious to my enterprize,
Inform with all thy softness these fair eyes,
And to love's cause her gentle breast incline;
She grants, and has contriv'd it with a sign;
Do you assure it too, you who're to me
(With Venus' leave) the mightier deity,
By all these heavenly witnesses' to you
Will I be ever faithful, ever true.
Now ib the open cirque the game's begun,
The praetor gives the signal, now they run;
I see which way your wishes are inclin'd,
To him a certain conquest is design'd;
For e'en the horses seem to know your mind.
He takes too large a compass to come in,
And lets his adversary get between;
Recall him, Romans, for a second heat,
And clear the course --
Now see your ground you better do maintain,
This lady's favour, and your fame regain;
The prize is his.-As yours successful prove,
So let my wishes, which are all for love;
I'm yet to conquer, and your heart's the prize;
Something she promis'd with her sparkling eyes,
And smil'd ;-" Enough," did I transported cry,
"The rest I leave to opportunity."
Elegy III: Of His Perjured Mistress. By Henry Cromwell.Can there be gods ?-has she not falsely swore?
Yet is the beauty that she was before!
The curious tresses of her dangling hair,
As long, and graceful still as e'er they were;
That same inimitable white and red,
Which o'er her face was so distinctly spread,
The roses, and the lilies keep their place,
And ev'ry feature still as justly grace;
Her sparkling eyes their lustre still retain,
That form, that perfect shape does still remain,
As if she ne'er had sinn'd ; and heav'n, ('tis plain)
Suff'ring the fairer sex to break their vows,
To the superior pow'r of beauty bows.
T' inforce my credit to her perjuries,
Oft would she swear by those persuasive eyes;
As if that charm had been too weak to move,
Sh'as added mine;-tell me, ye pow'rs above,
Why all this pain ? why are these guiltless eyes
For her offence th' atoning sacrifice ?
Was't not enough Andromeda has died,
An expiation for her mother's pride ?
Is't not enough, that unconcern'd you see
(Vain witnesses for truth, for faith, for me,)
Such an affront put on divinity,
Yet no revenge the daring crime pursue,
But the deceiv'd must be her victim too?
Either the gods are empty notions, crept
Into the minds of sleepers as they slept,
In vain are fear'd, are but the tricks of law,
To keep the foolish cred'lous world in awe;
Or, if there be a god, he loves the fair,
And all things at their sole disposal are.
For us are all the instruments of war
Design'd, the sword of Mars, and Pallas' spear;
'Gainst us alone Apollo's bows are bent,
And at our hands Jove's brandish'd thunder sent.
Yet of the ladies, oh ! how fond are they !
Dare not the inj'ries they receive, repay,
But those who ought to fear them they obey.
Jove to his votaries is most severe;
Temples nor altars does his lightning spare.
Obliging Semele in flames expires,
But those who merit, can escape the fires.
Is this the justice of your pow'rs divine?
Who then will offer incense at a shrine ?
Why do we thus reproach the deities ?
Have they not hearts ?-and surely they have eyes,
Nay, had I been a god, I had believ'd
The lovely criminals, and been deceiv'd;
Had wav'd the judgments to their perj'ries due,
And sworn myself that all they spoke was true.
Since then the gods such ample gifts bestow,
As make you absolute o'er men below;
Pray let me find some mercy in your reign,
Or spare at least your lover's eyes from pain.
Elegy IV: To a man that locked up his wife. By Sir Charles SedleyVex not thyself and her, vain man, since all
By their own vice or virtue stand or fall.
She's truly chaste, and worthy of that name,
Who hates the ill, as well as fears the shame;
And that vile woman whom restraint keeps in,
Tho' she forbear the act, has done the sin.
Spies, locks, and bolts may keep her brutal part,
But thou'rt an odious cuckold in her heart.
They that have freedom use it least, and so
The power of ill does the design overthrow.
Provoke not vice by a too harsh restraint;
Sick men long most to drink, who know they mayn't.
The fiery courser, whom no art can stay,
Or rugged force, does oft fair means obey;
And he that did the rudest arm disdain,
Submits with quiet to the looser rein.
A hundred eyes had Argus, yet the while
One silly maid did all those eyes beguile;
Danae, tho' shut within a brazen tow'r,
Felt the male virtue of the golden show'r;
But chaste Penelope, left to her own will
And free disposal, never thought of ill;
She to her absent lord preserv'd her truth,
For all th' addresses of the smoother youth,
What's rarely seen, our fancy magnifies;
Permitted pleasure who does not despise ?
Thy care provokes beyond her face, and more
Men strive to make tho cuckold than the whore.
They're wondrous charms we think, and long to know
That in a wife enchants a husband so:
Rage, swear, and curse, no matter, she alone
Pleases, who sighs, and cries, " I am undone."
But could thy spies say, " We have kept her chaste,"
Good servants then, but an ill wife thou hast;
Who fears to be a cuckold is a clown,
Not worthy to partake of this lewd town,
Where it is monstrous to be fair and chaste,
And not one inch of either sex lies waste.
Wouldst thou be happy ? with her ways comply,
And in her case lay points of honour by:
The friendship she begins, wisely improve,
And a fair wife gets one a world of love:
So shalt thou welcome be to ev'ry treat,
Live high, not pay, and never run in debt.
Elegy V: The Dream. By Henry Cromwell.'Twas in the midst and silent dead of night,
When heavy sleep oppos'd my weary sight,
This vision did my troubled mind affright:-
To Sol expos'd there stood a rising ground,
Which cast beneath a spacious shade around;
A gloomy grove of spreading oaks below,
And various birds were perch'd on ev'ry bough;
Just on the margin of a verdant mead,
Where murm'ring brooks refreshing waters spread
To shun the heat I sought this cool recess,
But in this shade I felt my heat no less;
When browzing o'er the flow'ry grass appear'd
A lovely cow, the fairest of the herd.
By spotless white distinguished from the rest,
Whiter than milk from her own udder press'd;
Whiter than falling, or the driven snow,
Before descending mists can make it flow.
She, with a lusty bull, her happy mate,
Delighted, on the tender herbage sat;
There, as he crops the flow'rs, and chews the cud,
Feasting a second time upon his food,
His limbs with sudden heaviness oppress'd,
He bends his head, and sinks to pleasing rest.
A noisy crow, cleaving the liquid air,
Thrice with lewd bill pick'd off the heifer's hair;
The glossy white imbib'd a spreading blot,
But on her breast appear'd a livid spot.
The cow rose slowly from her consort's side,
But when afar the grazing bull she spied,
Frisk'd to the herd, with an impetuous haste,
And pleas'd, in new luxuriant soil, her taste.
Oh, learn'd diviner!
What may this visionary dream portend,
If dreams in any future truth can end ?
The prophet nicely weighs what I relate,
And thus denounces in the voice of fate:-
"That heat you tried to shun i' th' shady grove,
But shunn'd in vain, was the fierce heat of love.
The cow denotes the nymph, your only care,
(For white's th' expressive image of the fair,)
And you the bull, abandon'd to despair.
The picking crow some busy bawd implies,
Who with base arts will soon seduce your prim.
You saw the cow to fresher pasture range,
So will your nymph for richer lovers change;
As mixing with the herd you saw her rove,
So will the fair pursue promiscuous love;
Soon will you find a foul incestuous blot,
As on the cow you view'd the livid spot."
At this my blood retired, with dismal fright,
And left me pale as death ; my fainting sight
Was quite o'ercast in dusky shades of night.
Elegy VI: To a River, as he was going to his mistress. By Rhymer.Thy course, thy noble course a while forbear,
I am in haste now going to my dear!
Thy banks how rich, thy stream how worthy praise
Alas, my haste ! sweet river, let me pass.
No bridges here, no ferry, not an oar,
Or rope to haul me to the farther shore !
I have remember'd thee a little one,
Who now with all this flood com'st blund'ring down.
Did I refuse my sleep, my wine, my friend,
To spur along, and must I here attend ?
No art to help me to my journey's end!
Ye Lapland powers, make me so far a witch,
I may astride get over on a switch.
Or, for some griffin, or that flying horse,
Or any monster to assist my course;
I wish his art that mounted to the moon,
In shorter journey would my job be done.
Why rave I for what crack-brain'd bards devise,
Or name their lewd unconscionable lies ?
Good river, let me find thy courtesy,
Keep within bounds, and mayst thou ne'er be dry.
Thou canst not think it such a mighty boast,
A torrent has a gentle lover cross'd.
Rivers should rather take the lover's side,
Rivers themselves love's wondrous power have tried.
'Twas on this score Inachus, pale and wan,
Sickly and green, into the ocean ran ;
Long before Troy the ten-years siege did fear,
Thou, Xanthus, thou Neaera's chains didst wear;
Ask Achelous who his horns did drub,
Straight he complains of Hercules's club.
For Calydon, for all Aetolia
Was then contested such outrageous fray!
It neither was for gold, nor yet for fee;
Dejanira, it was all for thee.
E'en Nile so rich, that rolls thro' sev'n wide doors,
And uppish over all his country scours,
For Asop's daughter did such flame contract,
As not by all that stock of water slack'd.
I might a hundred goodly rivers name,
But must not pass by thee, immortal Thame;
Ere thou couldst Isis to thy bosom take.
How didst thou wind and wander for her sake!
The lusty ---- with broad Humber strove;
Was it for fame ? I say it was for love.
What makes the noble Ouse up from the main
With hideous roar come bristling back again ?
He thinks his dearest Dervent left behind,
Or fears her false, in new embraces joined.
Thee also some small girl has warm'd, we guess,
Tho' woods and forests now hide thy soft place.
Whilst this I speak, it swells and broader grows,
And o'er the highest banks impetuous flows.
Dog-flood, what art to me ? or why dost check
Our mutual joys ? and, churl, my journey break ?
What wouldst, if thee indeed some noble race,
Or high descent, and glorious name did grace ?
When of no ancient house or certain seat,
(Nor, known before this time, untimely, great)
Rais'd by some sudden thaw thus high and proud,
No holding thee, ill-manner'd upstart flood ;
Not my love-tales can make thee stay thy course,
Thou--zounds, thou art a -- river for a horse.
Thou hadst no fountain, but from bears wert pist,
From snows, and thaws, or Scotch unsav'ry mist.
Thou crawl'st along, in winter foul and poor,
In summer puddled like a common-shore.
In all thy days when didst a courtesy ?
Dry traveller ne'er laid a lip to thee.
The bane to cattle, to the meadows worse,
For something all, I for my sufferings curse.
To such unworthy wretch, how am I sham'd,
That I the gen'rous am'rous river nam'd!
When Nile and Achelous I display'd,
And Thame and Ouse, what worm was in my head
For thy reward, discourteous river, I
Wish, be the summers hot, the winters dry.
Elegy VII: Ovid laments his imperfect enjoyments. By an unknown hand.Was she not heavenly fair, and rich attir'd ?
Was she not that which all my soul desir'd ?
Yet were these arms around her idly spread,
And with an useless load I press'd the bed.
E'en to my wishes was the power denied,
When with my wishes the kind nymph complied
I lay without life's animated spring,
A dull, enervate, worthless, lumpish thing.
My neck she folded with a soft embrace,
Now kissed my eyes, now wanton'd o'er my face,
Now lov'd to dart her humid tongue to mine,
Now would her pliant limbs around me twine,
And sooth, by thousand ways, the sweet design.
The moving blandishments of sound she tried,
And, " My dear life, my soul, my all," she cried.
In vain, alas ! the nerves are slacken'd still,
And I prov'd only potent in my will;
A poor inactive sign of man I made,
And might as well for use have been a shade.
If old I live, how shall I old prevail,
When in my youth I thus inglorious fail?
The bloom of years becomes my shameful moan,
Now in full growth the ripen'd man is shown,
But not the strength of man to her was known.
Untouched by brothers, sisters thus retire,
Or vestals rise to watch th' eternal fire;
Yet many a nymph whom I forbear to name,
Rave kindly yielded, and indulg'd my flame
Nor could the vigour of their 0vid blame.
Corinna knows when numb'ring the delight,
Not less than nine full transports crown'd the night.
Is verse or herbs the source of present harms ?
Am I a captive to Thessalian charms ?
Has some enchantress this confusion brought,
And in soft wax my tortur'd image wrought
Deep in the liver is the needle fix'd ?
Plagues she by numbers, or by juices mix'd?
By numbers sudden the ripe harvest die,
And fruitful urns no more their streams supply;
Oaks shed, unshook, their acorns at the call,
And the vine wonders why her clusters fall.
Why may not magic act on me the same,
Unstring the nerves, and quite untune the frame!
Gall'd at the heart, and longing to perform,
I rais'd indeed, but rais'd an empty storm;
Most disappointed when the most propense,
And shame was second cause of impotence.
What limbs I touch'd ! and only touch'd ! oh, fie!
Where was the blissful touch ? her shift can vie
In feasts like these, and touch as well as I.
Yet to touch her e'en Nestor might grow young,
And centuries, like twenty-one, be strung.
Such was the maid; the parallel had ran
Graceful, if I could add, such was the man.
Some envious deity with vengeance glow'd,
So sweet a gift had been so ill bestow'd.
I burn to clasp her naked in my arms,
Did she not freely open all her charms ?
What boots good fortune, if we want the pow'r
To snatch the pleasures of the favour'd hour?
I, like a miser, only could behold,
And brooded o'er an useless mine of gold;
So Tantalus with fruit untouch'd is curst,
And dies amid the gliding stream of thirst;
So rises early from th' untasted fair,
The grave old prelate, and kneels down to pray'r,
Were yet her melting kisses misenploy'd?
Did she strive vainly to be well enjoy'd ?
Sure she has beauties might deaf rocks enchant,
Bend the proud oak, and soften adamant;
She would have mov'd a man tho' almost dead,
But with my manhood the whole life was fled.
If none should lend an ear, why is the song,
Or painted nymphs shown to a blinded throng !
Ye gods ! what joys did not my fancy raise !
I curl'd in folds of love a thousand ways.
Strong were my thoughts, but ah ! my body lay
Languid as roses pluck'd off yesterday.
Now all the blood the circling spirits fire,
And the lost field impertinent require;
Begone untimely nerves! I trust no more,
Such was the promise of your strength before.
Could you the fair one balk of her delight,
Disgrace your master by so base a fright,
And want the courage for so sweet a fight?
Did she not kindly too your stay demand,
And tempt it softly with a soothing hand ?
But when solicitings no life could gain,
And inspirations, tho' from her, were vain;
"Who bade thee thus thyself to me to bring !
Go for a silly unperforming thing:
Art thou a wretch by some curs'd spell destroy'd,
Or here com'st fribbling with past pleasure cloy'd?"
She spoke, and springing from the bed she flew,
And secret beauties so disclos'd to view;
Yet to conceal the joyless night's digrace,
She called for water with a smiling face,
And wash'd a nameless unpolluted place.
Elegy VIII: He complains that his mistress did not give him a favourable reception.What coxcomb will in future times think fit
To build in love his fortune on his wit ?
Wealth now is worth, whatever 'twas of old,
And merit valu'd by its weight in gold.
With male and female, this is now the rule,
And he that's poor, of course must be a fool.
The dame to read my am'rous verse delights,
My writings likes, but scorns the man that writes;
They freely on her privacy presume,
And find admittance where I must not come;
Me when she does her haunted house exclude,
To them she's civil, as to me she's rude.
Me she exposes to a thousand harms,
To walk the streets, while they are in her arms.
For whom does she my passion disregard ?
And who has intercepted my reward ?
Why is the beau with so much joy embrac'd ?
His pockets full, it seems, his coat is lac'd:
He won her with his military air
Which cheats as often as it charms the fair.
Could she her longing eyes forbear to fix
On his fine feather, and his coach and six!
Enrich'd by plunder, he could never miss
The favour, who would buy the venal bliss.
No matter how he got his wealth, by war,
And blood: she cares not, if she has her share.
The upstart forward was, 'tis said, in fight,
And in the field of battle made a knight:
But had his honour come without his gold,
His, sure, had been like my reception, cold.
To men of merit how could she be coy,
Yet to a murd'rer prostitute the joy?
That head which lolls upon your panting breast,
Was lately cover'd with a plumy crest.
Can you the bully to your bed admit ?
Are his hard limbs for ladies' dalliance fit ?
His hands in your embrace you'll find embru'd
With clotted, and perhaps with guiltless blood;
How awkward must it be for you to feel,
Near yours, his thigh that late was cas'd with steel
That ring, the token of his pride and state,
Was with a heavy gauntlet hid of late:
Canst thou have commerce with a thing so foul!
Where's now the boasted niceness of thy soul?
What pleasure canst thou in his roughness find?
Thou that wert once the softest of thy kind!
Behold what marks of brutal rage he bears,
And how he's mangled with dishonest scars.
Yet to these scars, dishonest as they are,
His wealth he owes, his fortunes with the fair.
No doubt, he makes a merit of his guilt,
And brags what blood he has in battle spilt.
Fine courtship this, to win a gentle dame;
Thou shar'st his money, and must share his shame.
Me, not the meanest of Apollo's train,
She hates, and I repeat my verse in vain;
I sing before her gate; her gate I find
Is less obdurate than her harden'd mind.
Forbear your songs, Apollo's sons, forbear,
And bend your future thoughts to arms and war.
Instead of inspirations, get commands;
To murder, and to rapine use your hands,
And you with ease reduce the female bands.
Had Homer in the Grecian army serv'd,
We ne'er had heard that he had begg'd, or starv'd.
Of gold the thund'rer show'd the mighty pow'r,
Descending softly thro' the brazen tow'r,
And clasping Danae in a golden show'r.
A thousand bars the virgin fair did hold,
But what are iron bars to bribes of gold?
Against this foe her father could not guard;
Watchmen, and women kept a fruitless ward.
The damsel, who herself before was coy,
Melts at the sight, and meets the dazzling joy.
When peaceful Saturn did heav'n's sceptre sway,
Deep in earth's womb the fatal metal lay;
None then their teeming mother's bowels tore,
In quest of hidden wealth, in various ore;
Fed with the fruits which bounteous nature yields,
In painted gardens, and in golden fields,
From her rich soil are reap'd spontaneous crops,
And from the forest oak sweet honey drops.
No hinds as yet did toil their time away,
Nor with keen clusters wound the parent clay:
As yet no landmark was by lab'rers set,
And none had learned to plough the sea as yet
None as yet knew the use of sails and oars,
Nor ventur'd voyages beyond their shores.
The wit of men the race of men destroys,
And all its pow'rs against itself employs.
How subtle's human nature to contrive
Its proper ruin, and itself deceive!
Why didst thou cities with high walls surround,
Why arms invent thy jarring sons to wound ?
What quarrel hast thou with the sea, and why
Didst thou at first the pathless ocean try ?
Cannot the land content thy restless pride ?
Didst thou with Saturn's sons the whole divide,
Thou wouldst not with three worlds be satisfied.
'Tis strange thy vast ambition did not fly
O'er earth, and sea, and air, and scale the sky;
That man did not aspire to be a god,
And tread the paths by Indian Bacchus trod,
To give his name to some distinguish'd star,
And be what Hercules and Caesar are.
Instead of yellow harvests, now we seek
For solid gold, and thro' earth's entrails break;
The wealth we thus acquire's the soldier's prey,
And dearly for the blood he spills we pay.
The courts deny admittance to the poor,
In vain the needy clients crowd the door;
The judges to the rich decree the cause,
And money only gives their force to laws.
'Tis money makes the judge with looks severe
Insult the poor, and give the rich his ear;
'Tis money buys the title, makes the knight,
And dignifies with quality the cit:
Let money do all this, and more; the bar
Let money govern, and direct the war.
Let peace, as money sets the terms, be made,
But let it not the rights of love invade.
Let us enjoy this privilege at least,
That if we must be poor, we may with love be bless'd:
For now-a-days there's not a dame in town
So coy, but if you've money she's your own.
What tho' her keeper may an Argus be ?
Blind him with money, and he'll nothing see.
What though her husband should by chance be by?
He'll leave the house, let you your money fly.
If there's a god above, to whom belongs
The cause of love, and slighted lovers wrongs,
Revenge the false one's mercenary scorn,
And let ill-gotten pelf to dirt return.
Elegy IX: Upon the Death of Tibullus. By Stepney.If Memnon's fate bewail'd with constant dew,
Does, with the day, his mother's grief renew,
If her son's death mov'd tender Thetis' mind
To swell with tears the waves, with sighs the wind;
Sad Cupid now despairs of conqu'ring hearts,
Throws by his empty quiver, breaks his darts:
Eases his useless bows from idle strings;
Nor flies, but humbly creeps with flagging wings.
He wants, of which he robb'd fond lovers, rest;
And wounds with furious hands his pensive breast.
Those graceful curls which wantonly did flow,
The whiter rivals of the falling snow,
Forget their beauty, and in discord lie,
Drunk with the fountain from his melting eye.
Nor Phoebus, nor the muses' queen, could give
Their son, their own prerogative, to live.
Orpheus, the heir of both his parents' skill,
Tam'd wond'ring beasts, not death's more cruel will.
Linus' sad strings on the dumb lute do lie.
In silence forc'd to let their master die.
His mother weeping does his eyelids close,
And on his urn, tears, her last gift, bestows.
His sister too, with hair dishevell'd, bears
Part of her mother's nature, and her tears.
With those, two fair, two mournful rivals come,
And add a greater triumph to his tomb:
Both hug his urn, both his lov'd ashes kiss,
And both contend which reap'd the greater bliss.
Thus Delia spoke (when sighs no more could last)
Renewing by remembrance pleasures past;
"When youth with vigour did for joy combine,
I was Tibullus' life, Tibullus mine;
1 entertained his hot, his first desire,
And kept alive, till age, his active fire."
To her then Nemesis (when groans gave leave)
"As I alone was lov'd, alone I'll grieve;
Spare your vain tears, Tibullus' heart was mine,
About my neck his dying arms did twine:
I snatch'd his soul, which true to me did prove;
Age ended yours, death only stopp'd my love."
If any poor remains survive the flames,
Except thin shadows, and more empty names;
Free in Elysium shall Tibullus rove,
Nor fear a second death should cross his love.
There shall Catullus, crown'd with bays, impart
To his far dearer friend his open heart.
There Gallus (if fame's hundred tongues all lie)
Shall, free from censure, no more rashly die.
Such shall our poet's bless'd companions be,
And in their deaths, as in their lives, agree.
But thou, rich urn, obey my strict commands,
Guard thy great charge from sacrilegious hands.
Thou, earth, Tibullus' ashes gently use,
And be as soft and easy as his muse.
Elegy X.Now Ceres' feast is come, the trees are blown,
And my Corinna now must lie alone.
And why, good Ceres, must thy feast destroy
Man's chief delight, and why disturb his joy ?
The world esteems you bountiful and good,
You led us from the field and from the wood,
And gave us fruitful corn, and wholesome food.
Till then poor wretched man on acorns fed;
Oaks gave him meat, and flow'ry fields a bed.
First Ceres made our wheat and barley grow,
And taught us how to plough, and how to mow;
Who then can think that she designs to prove
Our piety, by coldness in our love ?
Or make poor lovers sigh, lament, and groan,
Or charge her votaries to lie alone ?
For Ceres, though she loves the fruitful fields,
Yet sometimes feels the force of love, and yields:
This Crete can witness, (Crete not always lies)
Crete that nurs'd Jove, and heard his infant cries,
There he was suckled who now rules the skies.
That Jove his education there receiv'd,
Will raise her fame, and make her be believ'd;
Nay she herself will never strive to hide
Her love, 'tis too well known to be denied:
She saw young Jasius in the Cretan grove
Pursue the deer, she saw, and fell in love.
She then perceived when first she felt the fire,
On this side modesty, on that desire;
Desire prevail'd, and then the field grew dry,
The farmer lost his crop and knew not why;
When he had toil'd, manur'd his grounds, and plough' d,
Harrow'd his fields, and broke his clods, and sow'd,
No corn appear'd, none to reward his pain,
His labour and his wishes were in vain.
For Ceres wand'red in the woods and groves,
And often heard, and often told her loves:
Then Crete alone a fruitful summer knew,
Where'er the goddess came a harvest grew.
Ida was grey with corn, the furious boar
Grew fat with wheat, and wonder'd at the store:
The Cretans wish'd that such all years would prove,
They wish'd that Ceres would be long in love.
Well then, since then 'twas hard for you to lie
All night alone, why at your feast must I ?
Why must I mourn, when you rejoice to know
Your daughter safe, and queen of all below?
'Tis holy-day, and calls for wine and love;
Come, let's the height of mirth and humor prove,
These gifts will please our master pow'rs above.
Elegy XI: To his Mistress, that he cannot help loving her.So much I've suffer'd, and so long, no more
I'll bear the wrongs which I have borne before.
Begone, vile Cupid, I'll no more endure
Thy slavish labors, and fatigues impure;
From hence, I'll put an end to all the pains
Thou'st cost me, and from hence shake off thy chains.
I hate the liv'ry I with pleasure wore,
And blush at bonds, which once with pride I bore:
But this, methinks, should have been done before.
To leave my wicked courses I begin,
As years deprive me of the gust of sin.
On Cupid's neck I should have trod when young,
And vanquish'd him when my desires were strong.
In that there had been virtue; now there's none,
The world will say so; let the world say on.
Much opposition I shall meet; perhaps,
The lewd will laugh, and threaten a relapse.
To bear reproaches I must be prepar'd,
Easy's the end, when the beginning's hard;
Content let me the present pain endure,
For the sharp medicine is the patient's cure.
How oft you have expos'd me to the cold,
While in your arms you did my rival hold!
How like a slave have I been forc'd to wait
All weathers, and how oft have watched the gate!
As if your house was trusted to my care
And I, your sentinel, did duty there.
Oft have I seen your sated lover come
With looks, as if he long'd to be at home.
But what most grated on my jealous mind,
Was that he there the waiting fool should find.
That aggravated most the cruel curse;
I would not wish my greatest foe a worse.
How oft have I attended you abroad,
Or in the city, cirque, or on the road ?
They took me for your husband by my care,
Or that your guardian or your slave I were.
I by the people's glances, and your own,
Observ'd you were acquainted with the town;
That of your love if I possess'd a part,
'Twas plain I shared with many more your heart.
What need I of your perjuries bring proof,
Suppose the common talk was not enough!
What do your ogles and your gestures mean,
Your carriage at th' assembly and the scene ?
There's scarce a fop you meet with in your way,
To whom you have not something soft to say;
Some token which you either understand
By mystic words or motion of the hand.
They tell me you are sick; I run to see,
And find, as ill as you pretend to be,
It is not for my rival, but for me.
I seldom told you of your faults, but strove
To cover all your failings with my love;
Of this I might remind you, and much more,
But what avails it now; th' affair is o'er:
A fond you found me, and a patient man,
And get you such another if you can.
I fear not now your frowns; my bark defies
The storm of words, and tempest of your eyes;
No coaxing now, your hardest phrases use,
Your looks, your language, all their terrors lose;
I am not such a fool as I have been,
To dread your spirit, and to sooth your spleen.
But, ah! by diff'rent passions I'm oppress'd,
Fierce love and hate contend within my breast;
My soul they thus divide, but love, I fear,
Will prove too strong, and get the mast'ry there;
I'll strive to hate her, but if that should prove
A fruitless strife, in spite of me I'll love.
The bull does not affect the yoke, but still
He bears the thing he hates against his will
I hate, I fly the faithless fair in vain,
Her beauty ever brings me back again;
She always in my heart will have a place,
I hate her humour, but I love her face;
No rest I to my tortur'd soul can give,
Nor with her nor without her can I live.
Oh ! that thy mind we in thy face did view,
Less lovely that thou wert, or else more true.
How diffrent are thy manners and thy sight!
Thy deeds forbid us and thy eyes invite.
Thy actions shock us, and thy beauty moves,
And he who hates thy faults, thy person loves.
Happy, ah ! ever happy should I be,
If I no charms or no defects could see.
Thee I conjure by all our past delights,
Our cheerful days and our transporting nights,
By all the imprecated gods above,
To whom thou art forsworn, but most by Love,
By thy fair face, which I as much adore
As all those gods, and own as much its pow'r,
Forgive me this offence, and I'll offend no more.
Be what thou wilt, thy humour good or ill,
I'll love thee, thou shalt be my mistress still
Ah, let my passion ever favour find,
Or be it with, or be't against my mind,
But rather let me sail before the wind.
Ah, let thy wishes with my will agree,
Since surely I thy slave must ever be;
In thee since I have centred all my joys,
Oh Venus ! let my love be still my choice.
Elegy XII: He complains that the praises he has bestowed on his mistress in his verses, have occasioned him many rivals.Ill-omen'd birds, how luckless was the day,
When o'er my love you did your wings display!
What wayward orb, what inauspicious star
Did then rule heav'n ? what gods against me war?
She who so much my fatal passion wrongs,
Was known and first made famous by my songs.
I lov'd her first, and lov'd her then alone,
But now, I fear, I share her with the town.
Am I deceiv'd or can she be the same,
Who only to my verses owes her fame
My verse a price upon her beauty laid,
And by my praises she her market made;
Whom but myself can I with reason blame?
Without me she had never had a name.
Did I do this, who knew her soul so well?
Dearly to me she did her favours sell;
And when the wares were to the public known,
Why should I think she'd sell to me alone ?
'Twas I proclaim'd to all the town her charms,
And tempted cullies to her venal arms;
I made their way, I show'd them where to come,
And there is hardly now a rake in Rome
But knows her rates, and thanks my babbling muse:
Her house is now as common as the stews;
For this I'm to the muse oblig'd, and more
For all the mischiefs envy has in store.
This comes of gallantry, while some employ
Their talents on the fate of Thebes and Troy,
While others Caesar's godlike acts rehearse,
Corinna is the subject of my verse.
Oh, that I ne'er had known the art to please,
But written without genius and success.
Why did the town so readily believe
My verse, and why to songs such credit give ?
Sure poetry s the same it ever was,
And poets ne'er for oracles did pass.
Why is such stress upon my writings laid?
Why such regard to what by me is said ?
I wish the tales I've of Corinna told,
Had been receiv'd as fables were of old;
Of furious Scylla's horrid shape we read,
And how she scalp'd her hoary father's lead:
Of her fair face, and downward how she takes
The wolf's fierce form, the dog's, or curling snake's;
Serpents for hair, in ancient song we meet,
And man and horse with wings instead of feet.
Huge Tityon from the skies the poets flung,
Encelladus's wars with Jove they sung;
How by her spells, and by her voice, to beasts,
The doubtful virgin chang'd her wretched guests;
How Eolus did for Ulysses keep
The winds in bottles while he plough'd the deep:
How Cerberus, three headed, guarded hell;
And from his car the son of Phoebus fell:
How thirsty Tantalus attempts to sip
The stream in vain, that flies his greedy lip:
How Niobe in marble drops a tear,
And a bright nymph was turn'd into a bear:
How Progne, now a swallow, does bemoan
Her sister nightingale, and pheasant son.
In Leda, Danae, and Europa's rapes,
They sing the king of gods in various shapes;
A swan he lies on ravish'd Leda's breast,
And Danae by a golden show'r compress'd;
A bull does o'er the waves Europa bear,
And Proteus any form he pleases wear.
How oft do we the Theban wonders read,
Of serpent's teeth transform'd to human seed!
Of dancing woods, and moving rocks, that throng
To hear sweet Orpheus, and Amphion's song ?
How oft do the Heliades bemoan,
In tears of gum, the fall of Phaeton!
The sun from Atreus' table frightened flies,
And backward drives his chariot in the skies.
Those now are nymphs that lately were a fleet;
Poetic license ever was so great.
But none did credit to these fictions give,
Or for true history such tales receive,
And though Corinna in my songs is fair,
Let none conclude she's like her picture there.
The fable she with hasty faith receiv'd,
And what, so very well she lik'd, believ'd.
But since so ill she does the poet use,
'Tis time her vanity to disabuse.
Elegy XIII: Of Juno's Feast.My wife, a native of Phaliscan plains,
Where the rich soils enrich the lab'ring swains,
Where purple grapes and golden apples grow,
A conquest we to great Camillus owe.
When once to Juno's feast she thither went,
My mind to know the secret rites was bent:
The pious priests the solemn sports prepare,
And purify the fane with holy care.
A heifer of the place they sacrifice,
But ne'er to men expose their mysteries,
I mark'd the hidden way my consort went,
And follow'd down the deep and dark descent.
To an old wood at last I came, whose shade
Impress'd a horror on the gloom it made,
And ev'ry step with trembling feet I trod,
Profan'd, I thought, the dwelling of a god.
An altar there was rais'd by hands divine,
And fragrant incense flam'd around the shrine.
Chaste matrons there their vow'd oblations pay,
And celebrate with joyful hymns the day.
Soon as the fife the signal gives, they move
In long procession through the sacred grove
Branches and flow'rs are with devotion spread
O'er all the way, and priestly vestments laid.
Next after these, through loud acclaims, they lead
A cow milk white, and of Phaliscan breed;
Then a young steer, whose forehead ne'er had borne
The crooked honours of the butting horn.
The least of all the victims was a swine,
And then a ram whose horns around his temples twine.
A goat, whom most the goddess hates, comes last;
The present feels her vengeance for the past.
When in a wood to hide herself she tried,
She by the bleating of a goat was spied;
For this the beast is by the boys pursu'd;
For this she's ever greedy of its blood,
And he, who first the letcher wounds in play,
Claims by her law, and hears the prize away.
The tender youth, and tim'rous virgin strow
With robes the ground the goddess is to go.
The virgins' locks with golden fillets bound,
And sparkling diamonds glitt'ring all around;
Buskins embroider'd on their feet they wear,
And spreading trains with pride uneasy bear.
Here, as in Greece the custom was of old,
The image of the goddess we behold
Borne on the heads of maidens, and behind
The priestesses in beauteous rank you find.
An awful silence reigns : the goddess last
Approaches, and with her the pomp is past.
The dress was Greek, and such Halesus wore,
When in a fright he fled the Grecian shore;
His father kill'd, an Argive ship he fraught,
And to this coast the royal treasure brought.
Much peril had he past, much labour known,
O'er lands and seas, before he reach'd our own,
And landing built, with happy hand, the town,
Where first he did this festival revive,
And its Greek rules to the Phaliscans give;
The rites and sacrifices first he show'd,
As practis'd now within this ancient wood.
Ah, may these rites to all propitious be,
No more to those that serv'd them than to me.
Elegy XIV: He desires his mistress, if she does cuckold him, not to let him know it.I do not ask you would to me prove true,
Since you're a woman, and a fair one too.
Act what you please, yet study to disguise
The wanton scenes from my deluded eyes.
A stiff denial would attenuate
That crime which your confession would make great.
And 'twere unwise to trust the tell-tale light,
With the dark secrets of the silent night.
Tho' bought to be enjoy'd, a common whore
Ere she begins will shut the chamber door:
And will you turn debauch'd, then vainly own
How lewd you are, to this malicious town?
At least seem virtuous, and tho' false you be,
Say you are honest, and I'll credit thee.
Conceal your actions, and while I am by,
Let modest words your looser thoughts belie;
When to your private chamber you retire,
Unmask your lust, and vent each warm desire;
Throw off affected coyness, and remove
The bold intruder between thee and love:
Talk not of honour, lay that toy aside,
In men 'tis folly, and in women pride;
There without blushes you may naked lie,
Clasping his body with your tender thigh;
Shoot your moist dart into his mouth, to show
The sense you have of what he acts below;
Try all the ways, your pliant bodies twine,
In folds more strange than those of Aretine:
With melting looks fierce joys you may excite,
And with thick dying accents urge delight.
But when you're dress'd, then look as innocent
As if you knew not what such matters meant;
Cozen the prying town, and put a cheat
On it and me, I'll favour the deceit.
False as thou art, why must I daily see
Th' intriguing billet-doux he sends to thee ?
The wanton sonnet, or soft elegy ?
Why does your bed all tumbled seem to say,
See what they've done, see where the lovers lay!
Why do your locks and rumpled head-clothes show
'Tis more than usual sleep that made 'em so?
Why are the kisses which he gave, betray'd
By the impression which his teeth had made ?
Yet say you're chaste, and I'll be still deceived;
What much is wish'd for, is with ease believ'd.
But when you own what a lewd wretch thou art,
My blood grows cold and freezes at my heart,
Then do I curse thee, and thy crimes reprove,
But curse in vain, for still I find I love;
"Since she is false," oft to myself I cry,
"Would I were dead,"-yet 'tis with thee I'd die
I will not see your maid, to let me know
Who visits you, where, and with whom you go;
Nor by your lodging send my boy to scout,
And bring me word who passes in and out.
Enjoy the pleasure of the present times,
But let not me be knowing of your crimes.
Do you forswear't, tho' in the act you're caught,
I'll trust the oath, and think my eyes in fault.
Elegy XV: To Venus, that he may have done writing elegies.To Virgil Mantua owes immortal fame,
Catullus to Verona gives a name;
Why mayn't, if I attempt some great design,
Peligne be as much oblig'd to mine ?
Why mayn't my muse a glorious toil pursue,
And as much honour to my country do ?
A people, who, when Rome has been alarm'd
By foreign foes, in her defence have arm'd;
Beneath your golden banners I have fought
So long, your discipline so much have taught,
'Tis time to give me a discharge, to prove
Some other, some more glorious theme than love
See Bacchus beckons me my voice to raise,
Of lofty deeds to sings, in lofty lays;
To mount my muse on some more generous horse,
And try her courage in some daring course.
Adieu, my sighing elegies, adieu!
I'll be no more concern'd with love or you;
But what I write my being shall survive,
And in his verse the poet ever live.