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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.

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load focus Latin (R. Ehwald, 1907)
load focus English (Christopher Marlowe)
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  • Commentary references to this page (2):
    • John Conington, Commentary on Vergil's Aeneid, Volume 1, 1.51
    • George W. Mooney, Commentary on Apollonius: Argonautica, 3.1064
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