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ELEGIA 1

Deliberatio poetae, utrum elegos pergat scribere an potius tragedias


An old wood, stands uncut of long yeares space,
Tis credible some god-head haunts the place.
In midst thereof a stone-pav'd sacred spring,
Where round about small birdes most sweetely sing.
Heere while I walke hid close in shadie grove,
To finde, what worke my muse might move, I strove.
Elegia came with haires perfumed sweete,
And one, I thinke, was longer, of her feete.
A decent forme, thinne robe, a lovers looke,
By her footes blemish greater grace she tooke.
Then with huge steps came violent Tragedie,
Sterne was her front, her cloake on ground did lie.
Her left hand held abroad a regal scepter,
The Lydian buskin in fit paces kept her.
And first she sayd, when will thy love be spent,
O Poet carelesse of thy argument?
Wine-bibbing banquets tell thy naughtinesse,
Each crosse waies corner doth as much expresse.
Oft some points at the prophet passing by,
And this is he whom fierce love burnes, they cry.
A laughing stocke thou art to all the citty,
While without shame thou singst thy lewdnesse ditty.
Tis time to move grave things in lofty stile,
Long hast thou loyterd, greater workes compile.
The subject hides thy wit, mens acts resound,
This thou wilt say to be a worthy ground.
Thy muse hath played what may milde girles content,
And by those numbers is thy first youth spent.
Now give the RomanTragedie a name,
To fill my lawes thy wanton spirit frame.
This saied, she mov'd her buskins gaily varnisht,
And seaven times shooke her head with thicke locks garnisht.
The other smilde, (I wot) with wanton eyes,
Erre I? or mirtle in her right hand lies.
With lofty wordes stout Tragedie(she sayd)
Why treadst me downe? art thou aye gravely plaied?
Thou deignst unequall lines should thee rehearse,
Thou fightst against me using mine owne verse.
Thy lofty stile with mine I not compare,
Small doores unfitting for large houses are.
Light am I, and with me, my care, light love,
Not stronger am I, then the thing I move.
Venus without me should be rusticall,
This goddesse company doth to me befall.
What gate thy stately words cannot unlocke,
My flatt'rihg speeches soone wide open knocke.
And I deserve more then thou canst in verity,
By suifring much not borne by thy severity.
By me Corinna learnes, cousening her guard,
To get the dore with little noise unbard.
And slipt from bed cloth'd in a loose night-gowne,
To move her feete unheard in setting downe.
Ah howe oft on hard doores hung I engrav'd,
From no mans reading fearing to be sav'd.
But till the keeper went forth, I forget not,
The maide to hide me in her bosome let not.
What gift with me was on her birth day sent,
But cruelly by her was drown'd and rent.
First of thy minde the happy seedes I knewe,
Thou hast my gift, which she would from thee sue.
She left; I say'd, you both I must beseech,
To empty aire may go my fearefull speech.
With scepters, and high buskins th'one would dresse me,
So through the world shold bright renown expresse me.
The other gives my love a conquering name,
Come therefore, and to long verse shorter frame.
Graunt Tragedie thy Poet times least tittle,
Thy labour ever lasts, she askes but little.
She gave me leave, soft loves in time make hast,
Some greater worke will urge me on at last.

load focus English (various, 1855)
load focus Latin (R. Ehwald, 1907)
hide References (2 total)
  • Commentary references to this page (1):
    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 68a
  • Cross-references to this page (1):
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), COTHURNUS
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