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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.

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load focus English (Christopher Marlowe)
load focus Latin (R. Ehwald, 1907)
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    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 64
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