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.