Addressed partially to Cynthia, partially to third party1 Ariadne lay, Theseus' ship sailing away,
languid on lonely shores, the Knossian girl;
and Cepheus' daughter collapsed in first sleep
just free from the hard stone, Andromeda;
no less the Edonian bacchante, worn from dances,
when she fell on grassy Apidanus:
so seemed she, breathing gentle quiet,
Cynthia, supporting her head with slipping hands,
when I came in, dragging my feet with much Bacchus,
and the boys shook the torch late in the night.
Not yet having completely lost sensation,
I lightly try to advance to her, pressing on the couch;
And while a pair commanded me, gripped with lust,
Love on one side, Liber the other, each a hard god,
to lightly try her, her arm thrown up,
and to take kisses, my weapon in hand,
yet I didn't dare disturb my mistress' quiet,
fearing the outbursts of her expert cruelty.
But I remained fixed, my eyes intent,
like Argus with the strange horns of Inachus' daughter.
And now I take the garland from my forehead
and place it on your temples, Cynthia.
Now I delight to redo your fallen hair,
now I give furtive fruits to empty hands.
I lavish all these gifts on ungrateful sleep,
gifts rubbed repeatedly against dangling breasts.
And each time you take breath with a sudden motion,
I stop, believing in an empty sign,
that some vision has brought you unaccustomed fears,
or someone is forcing you unwillingly to be his,
until the moon, running across different windows,
the moon, busy with lingering moonbeams,
opens your composed eyes with its light rays.
So she speaks, fixing her elbow on the soft couch,
“Have another's insults finally brought you
back, expelled from her doors, to our bed?
So where did you consume the long hours of my night,
still languid, my god, with the stars disappearing?
If only you could experience the nights you always
force me to endure, you asshole!
At first I evaded sleep with the purple thread,
and again, exhausted, with song of the Orphic lyre.
Left all alone, I was singing lightly to myself
the frequent long delays when your lover is about.
Then drowsiness pulled me, slipping in its soft wings.
She at last cured my crying.”