(P. Ovidius Naso, Amores)

Translated by Christopher Marlowe





Quemadmodum a Cupidine pro bellis amores scribere coactus sit
(How he is obliged by Cupid to write of love instead of war)

We which were Ovid's five books, now are three,
For these before the rest preferreth he:
If reading five thou plainst of tediousness,
Two ta'en away, thy labour will be less:
With Muse upreared I meant to sing of arms,
Choosing a subject fit for fierce alarms:
Both verses were alike till Love (men say)
Began to smile and took one foot away.
Rash boy, who gave thee power to change a line?
We are the Muses' prophets, none of thine.
What if thy Mother take Diana's bow,
Shall Dian fan when love begins to glow?
In woody groves ist meet that Ceres reign,
And quiver-bearing Dian till the plain:
Who'll set the fair tressed sun in battle ray,
While Mars doth take the Aonian harp to play?
Great are thy kingdoms, over-strong and large,
Ambitious imp, why seek'st thou further charge?
Are all things thine? The Muses' Tempe thine?
Then scarce can Phoebus say, this harp is mine.
When in this work's first verse I trod aloft,
Love slacked my Muse, and made my numbers soft.
I have no mistress, nor no favourite,
Being fittest matter for a wanton wit,
Thus I complained, but Love unlocked his quiver,
Took out the shaft, ordained my heart to shiver:
And bent his sinewy bow upon his knee,
Saying, 'Poet here's a work beseeming thee'.
Oh woe is me, he never shoots but hits,
I burn, Love in my idle bosom sits.
Let my first verse be sixe, my last five feet,
Farewell sterne war, for blunter poets meet.
Elegian Muse, that warblest amorous lays,
Girt my shine brow with sea-banke' myrtle praise.


Quod primo amore correptus, in triumphum duci se a Cupidine patiatur
(That, being carried away by first love, he suffers himself to be led in triumph by Cupid)

What makes my bed seem hard, seeing it is soft?
Or why slips down the coverlet so oft?
Although the nights be long, I sleep not though
My sides are sore with tumbling to and fro.
Were Love the cause, it's like I should descry him,
Or lies he close, and shoots where none can spy him?
T'was so, he stroke me with a slender dart,
Tis cruel love turmoils my captive heart.
Yielding or striving do we give him might,
Let's yield, a burden eas'ly borne is light.
I saw a brandished fire increase in strength,
Which being not shaked, I saw it die at length.
Yong oxen newly yoked are beaten more,
Than oxen which have drawn the plough before.
And rough jades mouths with stubburn bits are torn,
But managed horses' heads are lightly borne,
Unwilling lovers, love doth more torment,
Than such as in their bondage feel content.
Lo I confess, I am thy captive I,
And hold my conquered hands for thee to tie.
What needs thou war, I sue to thee for grace,
With arms to conquer armless men is base,
Yoke Venus' doves, put myrtle on thy hair,
Vulcan will give thee chariots rich and fair.
The people thee applauding thou shalt stand,
Guiding the harmless pigeons with thy hand.
Young men and women, shalt thou lead as thrall,
So will thy triumph seem magnifical.
I lately caught, will have a new-made wound,
And captive-like be manacled and bound.
Good meaning, shame, and such as seek Love's wrack
Shall follow thee, their hands tied at their back.
Thee all shall fear and worship as a King,
Io, triumphing shall thy people sing.
Smooth speeches, fear and rage shall by thee ride,
Which troops hath always been on Cupid's side:
Thou with these soldiers conquerest gods and men,
Take these away, where is thy honour then?
Thy mother shall from heaven applaud this show,
And on their faces heaps of roses strow.
With beauty of thy wings, thy fair hair gilded,
Ride golden Love in chariots richly builded.
Unless I err, full many shalt thou burn,
And give wounds infinite at every turn.
In spite of thee, forth will thy arrows fly,
A scorching flame burns all the standers-by.
So, having conquered Inde, was Bacchus' hue,
Thee pompous birds and him two tigers drew.
Then seeing I grace thy show in following thee,
Forbear to hurt thyself in spoiling me.
Behold thy kinsman's Caesar's prosperous bands,
Who guards the conquered with his conquering hands.


Ad amicam
(To his mistress)

I ask but right: let her that caught me late,
Either love, or cause that I may never hate:
I ask too much, would she but let me love her,
Love knows with such like prayers, I daily move her:
Accept him that will serve thee all his youth,
Accept him that will love with spotless truth:
If lofty titles cannot make me thine,
That am descended but of knightly line,
(Soon may you plough the little lands I have,
I gladly grant my parents given to save),
Apollo, Bacchus, and the Muses may,
And Cupid who hath marked me for thy prey,
My spotless life, which but to gods gives place,
Naked simplicity, and modest grace.
I love but one, and her I love change never,
If men have faith, I'll live with thee forever.
The years that fatal destiny shall give,
I'll live with thee, and die, or thou shalt grieve.
Be thou the happy subject of my books,
That I may write things worthy thy fair looks:
By verses horned Io got her name,
And she to whom in shape of swan Jove came.
And she that on a feign'd bull swam to land,
Griping his false horns with her virgin hand:
So likewise we will through the world be rung,
And with my name shall thine be always sung.


Amicam, qua arte, quibusve nutibus in coena, proesente viro uti debeat, admonet
(He advises his mistress what stratagem or nods she should employ at dinner in her husband's presence)

Thy husband to a banquet goes with me,
Pray God it may his latest supper be,
Shall I sit gazing as a bashful guest,
While others touch the damsel I love best?
Wilt, lying under him, his bosom clip?
About thy neck shall he at pleasure skip?
Marvel not though the fair bride did incite
The drunken Centaurs to a sudden fight.
I am no half horse, nor in woods I dwell,
Yet scarce my hands from thee contain I well.
But how thou shouldst behave thyself now know;
Nor let the winds away my warnings blow.
Before thy husband come, though I not see
What may be done, yet there before him be.
Lie with him gently, when his limbs he spread
Upon the bed, but on my foot first tread.
View me, my becks, and speaking countenance:
Take, and receive each secret amorous glance.
Words without voice shall on my eyebrows sit,
Lines thou shalt read in wine by my hand writ.
When our lascivious toys come in thy mind,
Thy rosy cheeks be to thy thumb inclined.
If ought of me thou speak'st in inward thought,
Let thy soft finger to thy ear be brought.
When I (my light) do or say ought that please thee,
Turn round thy gold-ring, as it were to ease thee.
Strike on the boord like them that pray for evil,
When thou dost wish thy husband at the devil.
What wine he fills thee, wisely will him drink,
Ask thou the boy, what thou enough dost think.
When thou hast tasted, I will take the cup,
And where thou drinkst, on that part I will sup.
If he gives thee what first himself did taste,
Even in his face his offered gobbets cast.
Let not thy neck by his vile arms be pressed,
Nor lean thy soft head on his boisterous breast.
Thy bosom's roseate buds let him not finger,
Chiefly on thy lips let not his lips linger.
If thou givest kisses, I shall all disclose,
Say they are mine, and hands on thee impose.
Yet this I'll see, but if thy gown ought cover,
Suspicious fear in all my veins will hover,
Mingle not thighs, nor to his leg join thine,
Nor thy soft foot with his hard foot combine.
I have been wanton, therefore am perplexed,
And with mistrust of the like measure vexed.
I and my wench oft under clothes did lurk,
When pleasure mov'd us to our sweetest work.
Do not thou so, but throw thy mantle hence,
Lest I should think thee guilty of offence.
Entreat thy husband drink, but do not kiss,
And while he drinks, to add more do not miss,
If he lies down, with wine and sleep oppressed,
The thing and place shall counsel us the rest.
When to go homewards we rise all along,
Have care to walk in middle of the throng.
There will I find thee, or be found by thee,
There touch whatever thou canst touch of me.
Aye me, I warn what profits some few hours,
But we must part, when heav'n with black night lowers.
At night thy husband clips thee, I will weep
And to the doors sight of thyself will keep:
Then will he kiss thee, and not only kiss
But force thee give him my stol'n honey bliss.
Constrain'd against thy will, give it the peasant,
Forbear sweet words, and be your sport unpleasant.
To him I pray it no delight may bring,
Or if it do, to thee no joy thence spring:
But though this night thy fortune be to try it,
To me tomorrow constantly deny it.


Corinnae concubitus
(Going to bed with Corinna)

In summer's heat, and mid-time of the day,
To rest my limbs, upon a bed I lay,
One window shut, the other open stood,
Which gave such light, as twinkles in a wood,
Like twilight glimpse at setting of the sun,
Or night being past, and yet not day begun.
Such light to shamefast maidens must be shown,
Where they may sport, and seem to be unknown.
Then came Corinna in a long loose gown,
Her white neck hid with tresses hanging down,
Resembling fair Semiramis going to bed,
Or Lais of a thousand lovers sped.
I snatched her gown: being thin, the harm was small,
Yet strived she to be covered therewithal,
And striving thus as one that would be cast,
Betrayed herself, and yielded at the last.
Stark naked as she stood before mine eye,
Not one wen in her body could I spy,
What arms and shoulders did I touch and see,
How apt her breasts were to be pressed by me,
How smooth a belly, under her waist saw I,
How large a leg, and what a lusty thigh?
To leave the rest, all liked me passing well,
I clinged her naked body, down she fell,
Judge you the rest, being tired she bade me kiss.
Jove send me more such afternoons as this.


Ad Janitorem, ut fores sibi aperiat
(To the porter, to open the door for him)

Unworthy porter, bound in chains full sore,
On moved hooks set ope the churlish door.
Little I ask, a little entrance make,
The gate half ope my bent side in will take.
Long love my body to such use makes slender
And to get out doth like apt members render.
He shows me how unheard to pass the watch,
And guides my feet lest stumbling falls they catch.
But in times past I fear'd vain shades, and night,
Wond'ring if any walked without light.
Love hearing it laugh'd with his tender mother
And smiling said 'Be thou as bold as other'.
Forthwith Love came, no dark night-flying spright
Nor hands prepar'd to slaughter, me affright.
Thee fear I too much: only thee I flatter,
Thy lightning can my life in pieces batter.
Why enviest me, this hostile den unbar,
See how the gates with my tears wat'red are.
When thou stood'st naked ready to be beat,
For thee I did thy mistress fair entreat.
But what entreats for thee sometimes took place,
(O mischief) now for me obtain small grace.
Gratis thou mayst be free, give like for like,
Night goes away: the door's bar backward strike.
Strike, so again hard chains shall bind thee never,
Nor servile water shalt thou drink for ever.
Hard-hearted Porter dost and wilt not hear ?
With stiff oak propp'd the gate doth still appear .
Such rampir'd gates beseiged cities aid,
In midst of peace why art of arms afraid?
Exclud'st a lover, how would'st use a foe?
Strike back the bar, night fast away doth go.
With arms or armed men I come not guarded,
I am alone, were furious Love discarded.
Although I would, I cannot him cashier
Before I be divided from my gear.
See Love with me, wine moderate in my brain,
And on my hairs a crown of flowers remain.
Who fears these arms? Who will not go to meet them?
Night runs away; with open entrance greet them.
Art careless? Or is't sleep forbids thee hear ,
Giving the winds my words running in thine ear ?
Well I remember when I first did hire thee,
Watching till after mid-night did not tire thee.
But now perchance thy wench with thee doth rest,
Ah how thy lot is above my lot blest:
Though it be so, shut me not out therefore,
Night goes away: I pray thee ope the door.
Err we? Or do the turned hinges sound,
And opening doors with creaking noise abound?
We err: a strong blast seem'd the gates to ope:
Ay me how high that gale did lift my hope!
If Boreas bears Orithyas rape in mind,
Come break these deaf doors with thy boisterous wind.
Silent the city is: night's dewy host
March fast away: the bar strike from the post.
Or I more stern than fire or sword will turn,
And with my brand these gorgeous houses burn.
Night, Love, and wine to all extremes persuade:
Night shameless, wine and love are fearless made.
All have I spent: no threats or prayers move thee,
O harder than the doors thou gard'st I prove thee.
No pretty wench's keeper mayst thou be:
The careful prison is more meet for thee.
Now frosty night her flight begins to take,
And crowing cocks poor souls to work awake.
But thou my crown, from sad hairs ta'en away,
On this hard threshold till the morning lay.
That when my mistress there beholds thee cast,
She may perceive how we the time did waste:
What ere thou art, farewell, be like me pained,
Careless, farewell, with my fault not distained.
And farewell cruel posts, rough threshold's block,
And doors conjoined with an hard iron lock.


Ad pacandam amicam, quam verberaverat
(To placate his mistress, whom he had beaten)

Bind fast my hands, they have deserved chains,
While rage is absent, take some friend the pains.
For rage against my wench mov'd my rash arm,
My mistress weeps whom my mad hand did harm.
I might have then my parents dear misus'd,
Or holy gods with cruel strokes abus'd.
Why? Ajax, master of the seven-fold shield,
Butcher'd the flocks he found in spacious field,
And he who on his mother veng'd his sire,
Against the Destinies durst sharp darts require.
Could I therefore her comely tresses tear?
Yet was she graced with her ruffled hair.
So fair she was, Atalanta she resembled,
Before whose bow th'Arcadian wild beasts trembled.
Such Ariadne was, when she bewails
Her perjur'd Theseus' flying vows and sails,
So chaste Minerva did Cassandra fall,
Deflowr'd except, within thy Temple wall.
That I was mad and barbarous all men cried,
She nothing said, pale fear her tongue had tied.
But secretly her looks with checks did trounce me,
Her tears, she silent, guilty did pronounce me.
Would of mine arms, my shoulders had been scanted,
Better I could part of my self have wanted.
To mine own self have I had strength so furious?
And to my self could I be so injurious?
Slaughter and mischiefs instruments, no better,
Deserved chains these cursed hands shall fetter,
Punished I am, if I a Roman beat,
Over my mistress is my right more great?
Tydides left worst signs of villany,
He first a goddess strook; another I.
Yet he harrn'd less, whom I profess'd to love,
I harm'd: a foe did Diomedes anger move.
Go now thou conqueror, glorious triumphs raise,
Pay vows to Jove, engirt thy hairs with bays,
And let the troops which shall thy chariot follow,
'Io, a strong man conquer'd this wench', hollow.
Let the sad captive foremost with locks spread
On her white neck but for hurt cheeks be led.
Meeter it were her lips were blue with kissing
And on her neck a wanton's mark not missing.
But though I like a swelling flood was driven,
And as a pray unto blind anger given,
Was't not enough the fear ful wench to chide?
Nor thunder in rough threatings haughty pride?
Nor shamefully her coat pull o'er her crown,
Which to her waist her girdle still kept down.
But cruelly her tresses having rent,
My nails to scratch her lovely cheeks I bent.
Sighing she stood, her bloodless white looks shewed
Like marble from the Parian Mountains hewed.
Her half dead joints, and trembling limbs I saw,
Like poplar leaves blown with a stormy flaw,
Or slender ears, with gentle zephyr shaken,
Or waters' tops with the warm south-wind taken.
And down her cheeks, the trickling tears did flow,
Like water gushing from consuming snow.
Then first I did perceive I had offended,
My blood, the tears were that from her descended.
Before her feet thrice prostrate down I fell,
My feared hands thrice back she did repel.
But doubt thou not (revenge doth grief appease)
With thy sharp nails upon my face to seize.
Bescratch mine eyes, spare not my locks to break,
(Anger will help thy hands though ne'er so weak).
And lest the sad signs of my crime remain,
Put in their place thy combed hairs again.


Execratur lenam, quae puellam suam meretricia arte instituebat
(He curses the bawd who has been instructing his mistress in the arts of a whore)

There is, whoe'er will know a bawd aright
Give ear, there is an old trot, Dipsas hight.
Her name comes from the thing: she being wise,
Sees not the morn on rosy horses rise.
She magic arts and Thessale charms doth know,
And makes large streams back to their fountains flow,
She knows with grass, with threads on wrong wheels spun
And what with mares' rank humour may be done.
When she will, clouds the darken'd heav'n obscure,
When she will, day shines everywhere most pure.
(If I have faith) I saw the stars drop blood,
The purple moon with sanguine visage stood.
Her I suspect among nights spirits to fly,
And her old body in birds' plumes to lie.
Fame saith as I suspect, and in her eyes
Two eye-balls shine, and double light thence flies.
Great grand-sires from their ancient graves she chides
And with long charms the solid earth divides.
She draws chaste women to incontinence,
Nor doth her tongue want harmful eloquence.
By chance I heard her talk, these words she said
While closely hid betwixt two doors I laid.
'Mistress thou know'st, thou hast a blest youth pleas'd,
He stayed, and on thy looks his gazes seiz'd.
And why shouldst not please? None thy face exceeds,
Ay me, thy body hath no worthy weeds.
As thou art fair, would thou wert fortunate,
Wert thou rich, poor should not be my estate.
Th'opposed star of Mars hath done thee harm,
Now Mars is gone: Venus thy side doth warm,
And brings good fortune, a rich lover plants
His love on thee, and can supply thy wants.
Such is his form as may with thine compare,
Would he not buy thee thou for him should'st care.'
She blushed: 'Red shame becomes white cheeks, but this
If feigned, doth well; if true it doth amiss.
When on thy lap thine eyes thou dost deject,
Each one according to his gifts respect.
Perhaps the Sabines rude, when Tatius reigned,
To yield their love to more then one disdained.
Now Mars doth rage abroad without all pity,
And Venus rules in her Aeneas' city.
Fair women play, she's chaste whom none will have,
Or, but for bashfulness herself would crave.
Shake off these wrinkles that thy front assault,
Wrinkles in beauty is a grievous fault.
Penelope in bows her youths' strength tried,
Of horn the bow was that approv'd their side.
Time flying slides hence closely, and deceives us,
And with swift horses the swift year soon leaves us.
Brass shines with use; good garments would be worn,
Houses not dwelt in, are with filth forlorn.
Beauty not exercised with age is spent,
Nor one or two men are sufficient.
Many to rob is more sure, and less hateful,
From dog-kept flocks come preys to wolves most grateful.
Behold what gives the poet but new verses?
And thereof many thousand he rehearses.
The poets God arrayed in robes of gold,
Of his gilt harp the well tun'd strings doth hold.
Let Homer yield to such as presents bring,
(Trust me) to give, it is a witty thing.
Nor, so thou mayst obtain a wealthy prize,
The vain name of inferior slaves despise.
Nor let the arms of ancient lines beguile thee,
Poor lover with thy grandsires I exile thee.
Who seeks, for being fair, a night to have,
What he will give, with greater instance crave.
Make a small price, while thou thy nets dost lay,
Lest they should fly, being ta'en, the tyrant play.
Dissemble so, as lov'd he may be thought,
And take heed lest he gets that love for nought.
Deny him oft, feign now thy head doth ache:
And Isis now will show what 'scuse to make.
Receive him soon, lest patient use he gain,
Or lest his love oft beaten back should wain.
To beggars shut, to bringers ope thy gate,
Let him within hear barr'd-out lovers prate.
And as first wrong'd the wronged sometimes banish,
Thy fault with his fault so repuls'd will vanish.
But never give a spacious time to ire,
Anger delayed doth oft to hate retire.
And let thine eyes constrained learn to weep,
That this, or that man may thy cheeks moist keep.
Nor, if thou cozen'st one, dread to forswear ,
Venus to mocked men lends a senseless ear .
Servants fit for thy purpose thou must hire
To teach thy lover, what thy thoughts desire.
Let them ask somewhat, many asking little,
Within a while great heaps grow of a tittle.
And sister, nurse, and mother spare him not,
By many hands great wealth is quickly got.
When causes fail thee to require a gift,
By keeping of thy birth make but a shift.
Beware lest he unrival'd loves secure,
Take strife away, love doth not well endure.
On all the bed men's tumbling let him view
And thy neck with lascivious marks made blue.
Chiefly shew him the gifts, which others send:
If he gives nothing, let him from thee wend.
When thou hast so much as he gives no more,
Pray him to lend what thou mayst ne'er restore.
Let thy tongue flatter, while thy mind harm works:
Under sweet honey deadly poison lurks.
If this thou dost, to me by long use known,
Nor let my words be with the winds hence blown,
Oft thou wilt say, live well, thou wilt pray oft,
That my dead bones may in their grave lie soft.'
As thus she spake, my shadow me betrayed,
With much ado my hands I scarcely stay'd.
But her blear eyes, bald scalp's thin hoary fleeces
And rivell'd cheeks I would have pull'd a-pieces.
The gods send thee no house, a poor old age,
Perpetual thirst, and winter's lasting rage.


Ad Atticum, amantem non oportere desidiosum esse, sicuti nec militem
(To Atticus, that a lover ought not to be lazy any more than a soldier)

All lovers war, and Cupid hath his tent,
Attic, all lovers are to war far sent.
What age fits Mars, with Venus doth agree,
'Tis shame for eld in war or love to be.
What years in soldiers' captains do require,
Those in their lovers, pretty maids desire.
Both of them watch: each on the hard earth sleeps:
His mistress 'dores this; that his captain's keeps.
Soldiers must travail far: the wench forth send,
Her valiant lover follows without end.
Mounts, and rain-doubled floods he passeth over,
And treads the desert's snowy heaps do cover.
Going to sea, east winds he doth not chide
Nor to hoist sail attends fit time and tide.
Who but a soldier or a lover is bold
To suffer storm-mixed snows with night's sharp cold?
One as a spy doth to his enemies go,
The other eyes his rival as his foe.
He cities great, this thresholds lies before:
This breaks town gates, but he his mistress' door.
Oft to invade the sleeping foe 'tis good
And arm'd to shed unarmed peoples' blood.
So the fierce troops of Thracian Rhesus fell
And captive horses bade their Lord farewell.
Sooth lovers watch till sleep the husband charms,
Who slumb'ring, they rise up in swelling arms.
The keeper's hands and corps-du-gard to pass
The soldiers, and poor lovers work e'er was.
Doubtful is war and love, the vanquish'd rise
And who thou never think'st should fall down lies.
Therefore whoe'er love slothfulness doth call,
Let him surcease: love tries wit best of all.
Achilles burn'd Briseis being ta'en away:
Trojans destroy the Greek wealth, while you may.
Hector to arms went from his wife's embraces,
And on Andromache his helmet laces.
Great Agamemnon was, men say, amazed,
On Priam's loose-tress'd daughter when he gazed.
Mars in the deed the black-smith's net did stable,
In heav'n was never more notorious fable.
Myself was dull, and faint, to sloth inclined,
Pleasure, and ease had mollified my mind.
A fair maid's care expell'd this sluggishness,
And to her tents wild me myself address.
Since mayst thou see me watch and night wars move:
He that will not grow slothful, let him love.


Ad puellam, ne pro amore praemia poscat
(To a girl, not to ask for reward for love)

Such as the cause was of two husbands' war,
Whom Trojan ships fech'd from Europa far.
Such as was Leda, whom the God deluded
In snow-white plumes of a false swan included.
Such as Amimone through the dry fields strayed
When on her head a water pitcher layed.
Such wert thou, and I fear'd the bull and eagle
And whate'er love made Jove should thee inveigle.
Now all fear with my mind's hot love abates,
No more this beauty mine eyes captivates.
Ask'st why I change? Because thou crav'st reward:
This cause hath thee from pleasing me debarr'd.
While thou wert plain, I lov'd thy mind and face:
Now inward faults thy outward form disgrace.
Love is a naked boy, his years sans stain,
And hath no clothes, but open doth remain.
Will you for gain have Cupid sell himself?
He hath no bosom, where to hide base pelf.
Love and Love's son are with fierce arms to odds;
To serve for pay beseems not wanton gods.
The whore stands to be bought for each man's money
And seeks vilde wealth by selling of her coney,
Yet greedy bawds command she curseth still,
And doth constrain'd what you do of good will.
Take from irrational beasts a precedent,
'Tis shame their wits should be more excellent.
The mare asks not the horse, the cow the bull,
Nor the mild ewe gifts from the ram doth pull.
Only a woman gets spoils from a man,
Farms out herself on nights for what she can.
And lets what both delight, what both desire,
Making her joy according to her hire.
The sport being such, as both alike sweet try it,
Why should one sell it, and the other buy it?
Why should I lose, and thou gain by the pleasure
Which man and woman reap in equal measure?
Knights of the post of perjuries make sail,
The unjust judge for bribes becomes a stale.
'Tis shame sold tongues the guilty should defend
Or great wealth from a judgement seat ascend.
Tis shame to grow rich by bed merchandise,
Or prostitute thy beauty for bad prize.
Thanks worthily are due for things unbought,
For beds ill-hir'd we are indebted nought.
The hirer payeth all, his rent discharg'd
From further duty he rests then enlarg'd.
Fair dames forbear rewards for nights to crave,
Ill gotten goods good end will never have.
The Sabine gauntlets were too dearly won
That unto death did press the holy nun.
The son slew her, that forth to meet him went,
And a rich necklace caus'd that punishment.
Yet think no scorn to ask a wealthy churl,
He wants no gifts into thy lap to hurl.
Take cluster'd grapes from an o'er-laden vine,
May bounteous loam Alcinous' fruit resign.
Let poor men show their service, faith, and care;
All for their mistress, what they have, prepare.
In verse to praise kind wenches 'tis my part,
And whom I like eternize by mine art.
Garments do wear , jewels and gold do waste,
The fame that verse gives doth for ever last.
To give I love, but to be ask'd disdain,
Leave asking, and I'll give what I refrain.


Napen alloquitur, ut paratas tabellas ad Corinnam perferat
(He tells Nape to carry a letter to Corinna)

In skilful gathering ruffled hairs in order,
Nape free-borne, whose cunning hath no border,
Thy service for night's scapes is known commodious
And to give signs dull wit to thee is odious.
Corinna clips me oft by thy persuasion,
Never to harm me made thy faith evasion.
Receive these lines, them to my mistress carry,
Be sedulous, let no stay cause thee tarry.
Nor flint, nor iron, are in thy soft breast
But pure simplicity in thee doth rest.
And 'tis suppos'd Love's bow hath wounded thee,
Defend the ensigns of thy war in me.
If, what I do, she asks, say hope for night,
The rest my hand doth in my letters write.
Time passeth while I speak, give her my writ
But see that forthwith she peruseth it.
I charge thee mark her eyes and front in reading,
By speechless looks we guess at things succeeding.
Straight being read, will her to write much back,
I hate fair paper should writ matter lack.
Let her make verses, and some blotted letter
On the last edge to stay mine eyes the better.
What need she tire her hand to hold the quill,
Let this word, 'Come', alone the tables fill.
Then with triumphant laurel will I grace them
And in the midst of Venus' temple place them.
Subscribing that to her I consecrate
My faithful tables, being vile maple late.


Tabellas quas miserat execratur, quod amica noctem negabat
(He curses the letter which he had sent, because his mistress refused him the night)

Bewail my chance, the sad book is return'd,
This day denial hath my sport adjourn'd.
Presages are not vain, when she departed
Nape, by stumbling on the threshold, started.
Going out again pass forth the door more wisely
And somewhat higher bear thy foot precisely.
Hence luckless tables, funeral wood be flying
And thou the wax stuff'd full with notes denying,
Which I think gather'd from cold hemlock's flower
Wherein bad honey Corsic bees did power.
Yet as if mixed with red lead thou wert ruddy,
That colour rightly did appear so bloody.
As evil wood thrown in the highways lie,
Be broke with wheels of chariots passing by.
And him that hew'd you out for needful uses
I'll prove had hands impure with all abuses.
Poor wretches on the tree themselves did strangle,
There sat the hangman for men's necks to angle.
To hoarse screech-owls foul shadows it allows,
Vultures and furies nestled in the boughs.
To these my love I foolishly committed
And then with sweet words to my mistress fitted.
More fitly had they wrangling bonds contain'd
From barbarous lips of some attorney strain'd.
Among day books and bills they had lain better
In which the merchant wails his bankrupt debtor.
Your name approves you made for such like things,
The number two no good divining brings.
Angry, I pray that rotten age you wracks
And sluttish white-mould overgrow the wax.


Ad Auroram ne properet
(To the dawn, not to hurry)

Now on the sea from her old love comes she,
That draws the day from heaven's cold axle-tree.
Aurora whither slid'st thou? Down again,
And birds for Memnon yearly shall be slain.
Now in her tender arms I sweetly bide,
If ever, now well lies she by my side.
The air is cold, and sleep is sweetest now,
And birds send forth shrill notes from every bough.
Whither runn'st thou, that men, and women, love not?
Hold in thy rosy horses that they move not.
Ere thou rise, stars teach seamen where to sail,
But when thou com'st they of their courses fail.
Poor travellers though tir'd, rise at thy sight,
And soldiers make them ready to the fight,
The painful hind by thee to field is sent,
Slow oxen early in the yoke are pent.
Thou cozen'st boys of sleep, and dost betray them
To pedants, that with cruel lashes pay them.
Thou mak'st the surety to the lawyer run,
That with one word hath nigh himself undone,
The lawyer and the client hate thy view,
Both whom thou raisest up to toil anew.
By thy means women of their rest are barr'd,
Thou sett'st their labouring hands to spin and card.
All could I bear, but that the wench should rise,
Who can endure, save him with whom none lies?
How oft wished I night would not give thee place,
Nor morning stars shun thy uprising face.
How oft, that either wind would break thy coach,
Or steeds might fall forc'd with thick clouds approach.
Whither goest thou, hateful nymph? Memnon the elf
Received his coal-black colour from thyself.
Say that thy love with Cephalus were not known,
Then thinkest thou thy loose life is not shown?
Would Tithon might but talk of thee awhile,
Not one in heav'n should be more base and vile.
Thou leav'st his bed, because he's faint through age,
And early mount'st thy hateful carriage:
But held'st thou in thine arms some Cephalus,
Then would'st thou cry, 'Stay night and run not thus'.
Punish ye me, because years make him wain?
I did not bid thee wed an aged swain.
The moon sleeps with Endemion every day,
Thou art as fair as she, then kiss and play.
Jove, that thou should'st not haste but wait his leasure,
Made two nights one to finish up his pleasure.
I chid no more, she blush'd, and therefore heard me,
Yet linger'd not the day, but morning scar'd me.


Puellam consolatur cui proe nimia cura comoe deciderant
(He comforts the girl, whose hair has been falling out from too much care and attention)

'Leave colouring thy tresses' I did cry,
'Now hast thou left no hairs at all to die.
But what had been more fair had they been kept?
Beyond thy robes thy dangling locks had swept.
Fear'dst thou to dress them? Being fine and thin
Like to the silk the curious Seres spin,
Or threads which spider's slender foot draws out
Fast'ning her light web some old beam about.
Not black, nor golden were they to our view,
Yet although neither, mixed of either's hue,
Such as in hilly Ida's wat'ry plains,
The cedar tall spoil'd of his bark retains.
Add, they were apt to curl an hundred ways,
And did to thee no cause of dolour raise.
Nor hath the needle, or the comb's teeth reft them,
The maid that comb'd them ever safely left them.
Oft was she dress'd before mine eyes, yet never,
Snatching the comb to beat the wench, out drave her.
Oft in the morn her hairs not yet digested,
Half sleeping on a purple bed she rested,
Yet seemly like a Thracian bacchanal
That tir'd doth rashly on the green grass fall.
When they were slender, and like downy moss,
Thy troubled hairs, alas, endur'd great loss.
How patiently hot irons they did take
In crooked trammels crispy curls to make.
I cried, 'tis sin, 'tis sin, these hairs to burn,
They well become thee, then to spare them turn.
Far off be force, no fire to them may reach,
Thy very hairs will the hot bodkin teach.
Lost are the goodly locks, which from their crown
Phoebus and Bacchus wish'd were hanging down.
Such were they as Diana painted stands
All naked holding in her wave-moist hands.
Why dost thy ill-kemb'd tresses loss lament?
Why in thy glass dost look, being discontent?
Be not to see with wonted eyes inclined,
To please thyself, thyself put out of mind.
No charmed herbs of any harlot scath'd thee,
No faithless witch in Thessale waters bath'd thee.
No sickness harm'd thee, far be that away,
No envious tongue wrought thy thick locks decay.
By thine own hand and fault thy hurt doth grow,
Thou mad'st thy head with compound poison flow.
Now Germany shall captive hair-tires send thee,
And vanquish'd people curious dressings lend thee,
Which some admiring, O thou oft wilt blush
And say he likes me for my borrow'd bush,
Praising for me some unknown Guelder dame,
But I remember when it was my fame.'
Alas she almost weeps, and her white cheeks,
Died red with shame, to hide from shame she seeks.
She holds, and views her old locks in her lap,
Ay me, rare gifts unworthy such a hap.
Cheer up thyself, thy loss thou mayst repair,
And be hereafter seen with native hair.


Ad invidos, quod fama poetarum sit perennis
(To the envious, that the fame of poets lasts forever)

Envy, why carp'st thou my time's spent so ill,
And term'st my works fruits of an idle quill?
Or that unlike the line from whence I sprung,
War's dusty honours are refus'd being young,
Nor that I study not the brawling laws,
Nor set my voice to sale in every cause?
Thy scope is mortal, mine eternal fame,
That all the world may ever chant my name.
Homer shall live while Tenedos stands and Ide,
Or into sea swift Simois doth slide.
Ascreus lives, while grapes with new wine swell,
Or men with crooked sickles come down fell.
The world shall of Callimachus ever speak,
His art excell'd, although his wit was weak.
For ever lasts high Sophocles' proud vain,
With sun and moon Aratus shall remain.
While bondmen cheat, fathers be hard, bawds whorish,
And strumpets flatter, shall Menander flourish.
Rude Ennius, and Plautus full of wit,
Are both in Fame's eternal legend writ.
What age of Varro's name shall not be told,
And Jason's Argos, and the fleece of gold?
Lofty Lucretius shall live that hour,
That Nature shall dissolve this earthly bower.
Aeneas war, and Titerus shall be read,
While Rome of all the conquer'd world is head.
Till Cupid's bow, and flery shafts be broken,
Thy verses sweet Tibullus shall be spoken.
And Gallus shall be known from East to West,
So shall Licoris whom he loved best:
Therefore when flint and iron wear away,
Verse is immortal, and shall ne'er decay.
Let kings give place to verse, and kingly shows,
And banks o'er which gold-bearing Tagus flows.
Let base-conceited wits admire vilde things,
Fair Phoebus lead me to the Muses' springs.
About my head be quivering myrtle wound,
And in sad lovers' heads let me be found.
The living, not the dead, can envy bite,
For after death all men receive their right:
Then though death rakes my bones in funeral fire,
I'll live, and as he pulls me down, mount higher.





Quod pro gigantomachia amores scribere sit coactus
(That he is compelled to write of love-affairs, rather than the battle of the Giants)

I, Ovid, poet of my wantonness,
Born at Peligny, to write more address.
So Cupid wills, far hence be the severe,
You are unapt my looser lines to hear.
Let maids whom hot desire to husbands lead,
And rude boys touch'd with unknown love me read,
That some youth hurt as I am with Love's bow
His own flame's best acquainted signs may know,
And, long admiring, say by what means learn'd
Hath this same poet my sad chance discern'd?
I durst the great celestial battles tell,
Hundred-hand Gyges, and had done it well,
With earth's revenge and how Olympus' top
High Ossa bore, mount Pelion up to prop.
Jove and Jove's thunderbolts I had in hand
Which for his heav'n fell on the Giants' band.
My wench her door shut, Jove's affairs I left,
Even Jove himself out off my wit was reft.
Pardon me Jove, thy weapons aid me nought,
Her shut gates greater lightning than thine brought.
Toys, and light elegies my darts I took,
Quickly soft words hard doors wide open strook.
Verses deduce the horned bloody moon
And call the sun's white horses back at noon.
Snakes leap by verse from caves of broken mountains
And turned streams run backward to their fountains.
Verses ope doors, and locks put in the post
Although of oak, to yield to verses boast.
What helps it me of fierce Achill to sing?
What good to me will either Ajax bring?
Or he who war'd and wand'red twenty year?
Or woful Hector whom wild jades did tear ?
But when I praise a pretty wench's face
She in requital doth me oft embrace.
A great reward. Heroes of famous names
Farewell, your favour nought my mind inflames.
Wenches, apply your fair looks to my verse
Which golden love doth unto me rehearse.


Ad Bagoum, ut custodiam puellae sibi commissae laxiorem habeat
(To Bagous, that he should keep watch with greater laxity over the girl committed to his charge)

Bagous, whose care doth thy mistress bridle,
While I speak some few, yet fit, words be idle.
I saw the damsel walking yesterday
There where the porch doth Danaus' fact display.
She pleas'd me, soon I sent, and did her woo,
Her trembling hand writ back she might not do.
And asking why, this answer she redoubled,
Because thy care too much thy mistress troubled.
Keeper, if thou be wise, cease hate to cherish,
Believe me, whom we fear, we wish to perish.
Nor is her husband wise, what needs defence
When unprotected there is no expense?
But furiously he follow his love's fire
And think her chaste whom many do desire.
Stol'n liberty she may by thee obtain,
Which, giving her, she may give thee again.
Wilt thou her fault learn, she may make thee tremble,
Fear to be guilty, then thou mayst dissemble.
Think when she reads, her mother letters sent her,
Let him go forth known, that unknown did enter,
Let him go see her though she do not languish
And then report her sick and full of anguish.
If long she stays, to think the time more short
Lay down thy forehead in thy lap to snort.
Enquire not what with Isis may be done
Nor fear lest she to the theatre's run.
Knowing her scapes thine honour shall increase,
And what less labour then to hold thy peace?
Let him please, haunt the house, be kindly us'd,
Enjoy the wench, let all else be refus'd.
Vain causes fame of him the true to hide,
And what she likes, let both hold ratified.
When most her husband bends the brows and frowns,
His fawning wench with her desire he crowns.
But yet sometimes to chide thee let her fall
Counterfeit tears: and thee lewd hangman call.
Object thou then what she may well excuse,
To stain all faith in truth, by false crimes use.
Of wealth and honour so shall grow thy heap,
Do this and soon thou shalt thy freedom reap.
On tell-tales necks thou seest the link-knit chains,
The filthy prison faithless breasts restrains.
Water in waters, and fruit flying touch
Tantalus seeks, his long tongue's game is such.
While Juno's watchman, Io, too much eyed,
Him timeless death took, she was deified.
I saw one's legs with fetters black and blue,
By whom the husband his wife's incest knew.
More he deserv'd, to both great harm he fram'd,
The man did grieve, the woman was defam'd.
Trust me, all husbands for such faults are sad
Nor make they any man that hear them glad.
If he loves not, deaf ears thou dost importune,
Or if he loves, thy tale breeds his misfortune.
Nor is it easily prov'd though manifest,
She safe by favour of her judge doth rest.
Though himself see; he'll credit her denial,
Condemn his eyes, and say there is no trial.
Spying his mistress' tears, he will lament
And say this blab shall suffer punishment.
Why fight'st 'gainst odds? To thee, being cast, do hap
Sharp stripes, she sitteth in the judge's lap.
To meet for poison or vilde facts we crave not,
My hands an unsheath'd shining weapon have not.
We seek that through thee safely love we may,
What can be easier then the thing we pray?


Ad Eunuchum servantem dominam
(To the eunuch house-servant)

Ay me, an Eunuch keeps my mistress chaste,
That cannot Venus' mutual pleasure taste.
Who first depriv'd young boys of their best part,
With selfsame wounds he gave, he ought to smart.
To kind requests thou would'st more gentle prove,
If ever wench had made luke-warm thy love:
Thou wert not born to ride, or arms to bear ,
Thy hands agree not with the warlike spear .
Men handle those, all manly hopes resign,
Thy mistress' ensigns must be likewise thine.
Please her, her hate makes others thee abhor,
If she discards thee, what use serv'st thou for?
Good form there is, years apt to play together,
Unmeet is beauty without use to wither.
She may deceive thee, though thou her protect,
What two determine never wants effect.
Our prayers move thee to assist our drift,
While thou hast time yet to bestowe that gift.


Quod amet mulieres, cuiuscunque formae sint
(That he loves women, whatever their looks)

I mean not to defend the scapes of any,
Or justify my vices being many,
For I confess, if that might merit favour,
Here I display my lewd and loose behaviour.
I loathe, yet after that I loathe, I run:
Oh how the burden irks, that we should shun.
I cannot rule myself, but where love please
Am driven like a ship upon rough seas,
No one face likes me best, all faces move,
A hundred reasons makes me ever love.
If any eye me with a modest look,
I burn, and by that blushful glance am took:
And she that's coy I like for being no clown,
Methinks she should be nimble when she's down.
Though her sour looks a Sabine's brow resemble,
I think she'll do, but deeply can dissemble.
If she be learned, then for her skill I crave her,
If not, because she's simple I would have her.
Before Callimachus one prefers me far,
Seeing she likes my books, why should we jar?
Another rails at me, and that I write,
Yet would I lie with her if that I might.
Trips she, it likes me well, plods she, what than?
She would be nimbler, lying with a man.
And when one sweetly sings, then straight I long,
To quaver on her lips ev'n in her song,
Or if one touch the lute with art and cunning,
Who would not love those hands for their swift running?
And she I like that with a majesty,
Folds up her arms, and makes low courtesy.
To leave myself, that am in love with all,
Some one of these might make the chastest fall.
If she be tall, she's like an Amazon,
And therefore fills the bed she lies upon:
If short, she lies the rounder: to speak troth,
Both short and long please me, for I love both:
I think what one undeckt would be, being dress'd;
Is she attired, then show her graces best.
A white wench thralls me, so doth golden yellow,
And nut-brown girls in doing have no fellow.
If her white neck be shadowed with black hair,
Why so was Leda's, yet was Leda fair.
Amber-tress'd is she, then on the morn think I,
My love alludes to every history:
A young wench pleaseth, and an old is good,
This for her looks, that for her womanhood:
Nay what is she that any Roman loves,
But my ambitious ranging mind approves?


Ad amicam corruptam
(To his unfaithful mistress)

No love is so dear (quiver'd Cupid, fly)
That my chief wish should be so oft to die.
Minding thy fault, with death I wish to revel,
Alas a wench is a perpetual evil.
No intercepted lines thy deeds display,
No gifts given secretly thy crime bewray.
O would my proofs as vain might be withstood,
Ay me, poor soul, why is my cause so good.
He's happy, that his love dares boldly credit,
To whom his wench can say, I never did it.
He's cruel, and too much his grief doth favour
That seeks the conquest by her loose behaviour.
Poor wretch, I saw when thou didst think I slumber'd,
Not drunk, your faults in the spilt wine I number'd.
I saw your nodding eyebrows much to speak,
Even from your cheeks part of a voice did break.
Not silent were thine eyes, the board with wine
Was scribbled, and thy fingers writ a line.
I knew your speech (what do not lovers see?)
And words that seem'd for certain marks to be.
Now many guests were gone, the feast being done,
The youthful sort to divers pastimes run.
I saw you then unlawful kisses join,
(Such with my tongue it likes me to purloin).
None such the sister gives her brother grave,
But such kind wenches let their lovers have.
Phoebus gave not Diana such 'tis thought,
But Venus often to her Mars such brought.
'What dost?', I cried, 'Transport'st thou my delight?
My lordly hands I'll throw upon my right.
Such bliss is only common to us two,
In this sweet good, why hath a third to do?
This, and what grief enforc'd me say I said,
A scarlet blush her guilty face arrayed.
Even such as by Aurora hath the sky,
Or maids that their betrothed husbands spy.
Such as a rose mixed with a lily breeds,
Or when the moon travels with charmed steeds.
Or such as, lest long years should turn the die,
Arachne stains Assyrian ivory.
To these, or some of these, like was her colour,
By chance her beauty never shined fuller.
She viewed the earth: the earth to view, beseem'd her.
She looked sad: sad, comely I esteem'd her.
Even kembed as they were, her locks to rend,
And scratch her fair soft cheeks I did intend.
Seeing her face, mine uprear'd arms descended,
With her own armour was my wench defended.
I that ere-while was fierce, now humbly sue,
Lest with worse kisses she should me endue.
She laugh'd, and kiss'd so sweetly as might make
Wrath-kindled Jove away his thunder shake.
I grieve lest others should such good perceive,
And wish hereby them all unknown to leave.
Also much better were they than I tell,
And ever seem'd as some new sweet befell.
'Tis ill they pleas'd so much, for in my lips,
Lay her whole tongue hid, mine in hers she dips.
This grieves me not, no joined kisses spent,
Bewail I only, though I them lament.
No where can they be taught but in the bed,
I know no master of so great hire sped.


In mortem psittaci
(On the death of a parrot)

The parrot, from east India to me sent,
Is dead, all fowls her exequies frequent.
Go goodly birds, striking your breasts bewail,
And with rough claws your tender cheeks assail.
For woeful hairs let piece-torn plumes abound,
For long shrill'd trumpets let your notes resound.
Why, Philomel, dost Tereus' lewdness mourn?
All wasting years have that complaint outworn.
Thy tunes let this rare bird's sad funeral borrow,
Itis is great, but ancient cause of sorrow.
All you whose pinions in the clear air soar,
But most, thou friendly turtle-dove, deplore.
Full concord all your lives was you betwixt,
And to the end your constant faith stood fix'd.
What Pylades did to Orestes prove,
Such to the parrot was the turtle-dove.
But what availed this faith? Her rarest hue?
Or voice that how to change the wild notes knew?
What helps it thou wert given to please my wench,
Birds hapless glory, death thy life doth quench.
Thou with thy quills might'st make green emeralds dark,
And pass our scarlet of red saffrons mark.
No such voice-feigning bird was on the ground,
Thou spok'st thy words so well with stammering sound.
Envy hath rapt thee, no fierce wars thou mov'dst,
Vain babbling speech, and pleasant peace thou lov'dst.
Behold how quails among their battles live,
Which do perchance old age unto them give.
A little fill'd thee, and for love of talk,
Thy mouth to taste of many meats did balk.
Nuts were thy food, and poppy caused thee sleep,
Pure water's moisture thirst away did keep.
The ravenous vulture lives, the puttock hovers
Around the air, the caddesse rain discovers,
And crows survive arms-bearing Pallas' hate,
Whose life nine ages scarce bring out of date.
Dead is that speaking image of man's voice,
The parrot given me, the far world's best choice.
The greedy spirits take the best things first,
Supplying their void places with the worst.
Thersites did Protesilaus survive,
And Hector died, his brothers yet alive.
My wench's vows for thee what should I show,
Which stormy south-winds into sea did blow?
The seventh day came, none following might'st thou see,
And the Fates' distaff empty stood to thee,
Yet words in thy benumbed palate rung:
'Farewell Corinna' cried thy dying tongue.
Elisium hath a wood of holm-trees black,
Whose earth doth not perpetual green grass lack,
There good birds rest (if we believe things hidden)
Whence unclean fowls are said to be forbidden.
There harrnless swans feed all abroad the river,
There lives the Phoenix, one alone bird ever.
There Juno's bird displays his gorgeous feather,
And loving doves kiss eagerly together.
The parrot into wood receiv'd with these,
Turns all the goodly birds to what she please.
A grave her bones hides, on her corpse great grave,
The little stones these little verses have:
'This tomb approves, I pleased my mistress well,
My mouth in speaking did all birds excel'.


Amicae se purgat, quod ancillam non amet
(He clears himself of his mistress's accusation that he loves her maid)

Dost me of new crimes always guilty frame?
To overcome, so oft to fight I shame.
If on the Marble Theatre I look,
One among many is to grieve thee took.
If some fair wench me secretly behold,
Thou arguest she doth secret marks unfold.
If I praise any, thy poor hairs thou tear'st,
If blame, dissembling of my fault thou fear'st.
If I look well, thou think'st thou dost not move,
If ill, thou say'st I die for others' love.
Would I were culpable of some offence,
They that deserve pain, bear 't with patience.
Now rash accusing, and thy vain belief,
Forbid thine anger to procure my grief.
Lo, how the miserable great-ear'd ass,
Dull'd with much beating slowly forth doth pass.
Behold Cypassis wont to dress thy head,
Is charg'd to violate her mistress' bed.
The gods from this sin rid me of suspicion,
To like a base wench of despis'd condition.
With Venus' game who will a servant grace?
Or any back made rough with stripes embrace?
Add, she was diligent thy locks to braid,
And for her skill to thee a grateful maid.
Should I solicit her that is so just
To take repulse, and cause her show my lust?
I swear by Venus, and the wing'd boy's bow,
My self unguilty of this crime I know.


Ad Cypassim ancillam Corinnae
(To Cypassis, Corinna's maid)

Cypassis that a thousand ways trimm'st hair,
Worthy to comb none but a goddess fair,
Our pleasant scapes show thee no clown to be,
Apt to thy mistress, but more apt to me.
Who that our bodies were compressed bewray'd?
Whence knows Corinna that with thee I play'd?
Yet blushed I not, nor used I any saying,
That might be urg'd to witness our false playing.
What if a man with bondwomen offend,
To prove him foolish did I e'er contend?
Achilles burnt with face of captive Briseis,
Great Agamemnon lov'd his servant Chriseis.
Greater then these myself I not esteem,
What graced kings, in me no shame I deem.
But when on thee her angry eyes did rush,
In both thy cheeks she did perceive thee blush,
But being present, might that work the best,
By Venus' deity, how did I protest.
Thou, goddess, dost command a warm south-blast,
My false oaths in Carpathian seas to cast.
For which good turn my sweet reward repay,
Let me lie with thee brown Cypass today.
Ungrate, why feign'st new fears and dost refuse?
Well mayst thou one thing for thy mistress use.
If thou deniest, fool, I'll our deeds express,
And as a traitor mine own fault confess.
Telling thy mistress, where I was with thee,
How oft, and by what means we did agree.


Ad Cupidinem
(To Cupid)

O Cupid, that dost never cease my smart,
O boy that liest so slothful in my heart.
Why me that always was thy soldier found,
Dost harm, and in thy tents why dost me wound?
Why burns thy brand, why strikes thy bow thy friends?
More glory by thy vanquish'd foes ascends.
Did not Pelides whom his spear did grieve,
Being required, with speedy help relieve?
Hunters leave taken beasts, pursue the chase,
And then things found do ever further pace.
We people wholly given thee, feel thine arms,
Thy dull hand stays thy striving enemies' harms.
Dost joy to have thy hooked arrows shaked,
In naked bones? Love hath my bones left naked.
So many men and maidens without love,
Hence with great laud thou mayst a triumph move.
Rome, if her strength the huge world had not fill'd,
With strawy cabins now her courts should build.
The weary soldier hath the conquer'd fields,
His sword layed by, safe, though rude places yields.
The dock inharbours ships drawn from the floods,
Horse freed from service range abroad the woods.
And time it was for me to live in quiet,
That have so oft serv'd pretty wenches' diet.
Yet should I curse a god, if he but said,
Live without love, so sweet ill is a maid.
For when my loathing it of heat deprives me,
I know not whether my mind's whirlwind drives me.
Even as a headstrong courser bears away,
His rider vainly striving him to stay,
Or as a sudden gale thrusts into sea,
The haven touching bark now near the lea,
So wavering Cupid brings me back amain,
And purple Love resumes his darts again.
Strike boy, I offer thee my naked breast,
Here thou hast strength, here thy right hand doth rest.
Here of themselves thy shafts come, as if shot,
Better then I their quiver knows them not.
Hapless is he that all the night lies quiet
And slumb'ring, thinks himself much blessed by it.
Fool, what is sleep but image of cold death,
Long shalt thou rest when Fates expire thy breath.
But me let crafty damsels words deceive,
Great joys by hope I inly shall conceive.
Now let her flatter me, now chide me hard,
Let me enjoy her oft, oft be debarr'd.
Cupid by thee, Mars in great doubt doth trample,
And thy step-father fights by thy example.
Light art thou, and more windy then thy wings,
Joys with uncertain faith thou tak'st and brings.
Yet Love, if thou with thy fair mother hear ,
Within my breast no desert empire bear.
Subdue the wandring wenches to thy reign,
So of both people shalt thou homage gain.


Ad Graecinum quod eodem tempore duas amet
(To Graecinus, that he loves two at the same time)

Groecinus (well I wot) thou told'st me once,
I could not be in love with two at once,
By thee deceived, by thee surprised am I,
For now I love two women equally:
Both are well-favoured, both rich in array,
Which is the loveliest it's hard to say:
This seems the fairest, so doth that to me,
And this doth please me most, and so doth she.
Even as a boat, toss'd by contrary wind,
So with this love and that, wavers my mind.
Venus, why doublest thou my endless smart?
Was not one wench enough to grieve my heart?
Why add'st thou stars to heaven, leaves to green woods,
And to the vast deep sea fresh water floods?
Yet this is better far then lie alone,
Let such as be mine enemies have none,
Yea, let my foes sleep in an empty bed,
And in the midst their bodies largely spread:
But may soft love rouse up my drowsy eyes,
And from my mistress' bosom let me rise:
Let one wench cloy me with sweet loves' delight,
If one can do't, if not, two every night,
Though I am slender, I have store of pith,
Nor want I strength, but weight to press her with:
Pleasure adds fuel to my lustful fire,
I pay them home with that they most desire:
Oft have I spent the night in wantonness,
And in the morn been lively ne'ertheless.
He's happy who love's mutual skirmish slays,
And to the gods for that death Ovid prays.
Let soldier chase his enemies amain,
And with his blood eternal honour gain,
Let merchants seek wealth, and with perjured lips,
Being wrack'd, carouse the sea tir'd by their ships:
But when I die, would I might droop with doing,
And in the midst thereof, set my soul going,
That at my funerals some may weeping cry,
Even as he led his life, so did he die.


Ad amicam navigantem
(To his mistress going to sea)

The lofty pine from high Mount Pelion raught
Ill ways by rough seas wond'ring waves first taught,
Which rashly 'twixt the sharp rocks in the deep,
Carried the famous golden-fleeced sheep.
O would that no oars might in seas have sunk,
The Argos wrack'd had deadly waters drunk.
Lo, country gods, and known bed to forsake,
Corinna means, and dangerous ways to take.
For thee the east and west winds make me pale,
With icy Boreas, and the southern gale:
Thou shalt admire no woods or cities there,
The unjust seas all bluish do appear.
The ocean hath no painted stones or shells,
The sucking shore with their abundance swells.
Maids on the shore, with marble-white feet tread,
So far 'tis safe, but to go farther dread.
Let others tell how winds fierce battles wage,
How Scylla's and Charybdis' waters rage.
And with what rocks the fear'd Cerannia threat,
In what gulf either Syrtes have their seat.
Let others tell this, and what each one speaks
Believe, no tempest the believer wreaks.
Too late you look back, when with anchors weigh'd,
The crooked bark hath her swift sails display'd.
The careful ship-man now fears angry gusts,
And with the waters sees death near him thrusts,
But if that Triton toss the troubled flood,
In all thy face will be no crimson blood.
Then wilt thou Leda's noble twin-stars pray,
And he is happy whom the earth holds, say.
It is more safe to sleep, to read a book,
The Thracian harp with cunning to have strook,
But if my words with winged storms hence slip,
Yet Galatea favour thou her ship.
The loss of such a wench much blame will gather,
Both to the sea-nymphs, and the sea-nymphs' father.
Go, minding to return with prosperous wind,
Whose blast may hither strongly be inclined,
Let Nereus bend the waves unto this shore,
Hither the winds blow, here the spring-tide roar.
Request mild Zephyrus' help for thy avail,
And with thy hand assist the swelling sail.
I from the shore thy known ship first will see,
And say it brings her that preserveth me;
I'll clip and kiss thee with all contentation,
For thy return shall fall the vow'd oblation,
And in the form of beds we'll strew soft sand,
Each little hill shall for a table stand:
There wine being fill'd, thou many things shalt tell,
How almost wrack'd thy ship in main seas fell.
And hasting to me, neither darksome night,
Nor violent south-winds did thee ought affright.
I'll think all true, though it be feigned matter.
Mine own desires why should myself not flatter?
Let the bright day-star cause in heaven this day be,
To bring that happy time so soon as may be.


Exultat, quod amica potitus sit
(He boasts that he has conquered his mistress)

About my temples go triumphant bays,
Conquer'd Corinna in my bosom lays.
She whom her husband, guard, and gate, as foes,
Lest Art should win her, firmly did enclose.
That victory doth chiefly triumph merit,
Which without bloodshed doth the pray inherit.
No little ditched towns, no lowly walls,
But to my share a captive damsel falls.
When Troy by ten years battle tumbled down,
With the Atrides many gain'd renown.
But I no partner of my glory brook,
Nor can another say his help I took.
I, guide and soldier, won the field and wear her,
I was both horseman, footman, standard bearer.
Nor in my act hath fortune mingled chance,
O care-got triumph hitherwards advance.
Nor is my war's cause new, but for a queen
Europe, and Asia in firm peace had been.
The Laphiths and the Centaurs, for a woman,
To cruel arms their drunken selves did summon.
A woman forc'd the Troyans new to enter
Wars, just Latinus, in thy kingdom's centre:
A woman against late-built Rome did send
The Sabine fathers, who sharp wars intend.
I saw how bulls for a white heifer strive,
She looking on them did more courage give.
And me with many, but yet me without murther,
Cupid commands to move his ensigns further.


Ad Isidem, ut parientem Corinnam iuvet
(To Isis, to help Corinna give birth)

While rashly her womb's burden she casts out,
Weary Corinna hath her life in doubt.
She secretly with me such harm attempted,
Angry I was, but fear my wrath exempted.
But she conceiv'd of me, or I am sure
I oft have done, what might as much procure.
Thou that frequents Canopus' pleasant fields,
Memphis, and Pharos that sweet date trees yields,
And where swift Nile in his large channel slipping,
By seven huge mouths into the sea is skipping,
By fear'd Anubis visage I thee pray,
So in thy Temples shall Osiris stay,
And the dull snake about thy off'rings creep,
And in thy pomp horn'd Apis with thee keep,
Turn thy looks hither, and in one spare twain,
Thou giv'st my mistress life, she mine again.
She oft hath serv'd thee upon certain days,
Where the French rout engirt themselves with bays.
On labouring women thou dost pity take,
Whose bodies with their heavy burdens ache.
My wench, Lucina, I intreat thee favour,
Worthy she is, thou should'st in mercy save her.
In white, with incense I'll thine altars greet,
Myself will bring vow'd gifts before thy feet,
Subscribing, Naso with Corinna sav'd:
Do but deserve gifts with this title grav'd.
But if in so great fear I may advise thee,
To have this skirmish fought, let it suffice thee.


In amicam, quod abortivum ipsa fecerit
(Against his mistress, because she has herself procured an abortion)

What helps it, woman, to be free from war?
Nor being arrn'd fierce troops to follow far?
If without battle self-wrought wounds annoy them,
And their own privy-weapon'd hands destroy them.
Who unborn infants first to slay invented,
Deserv'd thereby with death to be tormented.
Because thy belly should rough wrinkles lack,
Wilt thou thy womb-enclosed offspring wrack?
Had ancient mothers this vile custom cherish'd,
All human kind by their default had perish'd.
Or stones, our stock's original, should be hurl'd,
Again by some in this unpeopled world.
Who should have Priam's wealthy substance won,
If wat'ry Thetis had her child fordone?
In swelling womb her twins had Ilia kill'd?
He had not been that conquering Rome did build.
Had Venus spoil'd her belly's Troyan fruit,
The earth of Caesars had been destitute.
Thou also, that wert born fair, had'st decayed,
If such a work thy mother had assayed.
Myself that better die with loving may
Had seen, my mother killing me, no day.
Why tak'st increasing grapes from vine-trees full?
With cruel hand why dost green apples pull?
Fruits ripe will fall, let springing things increase,
Life is no light price of a small surcease.
Why with hid irons are your bowels torn?
And why dire poison give you babes unborn?
At Cholcis stain'd with children's blood men rail,
And mother-murder'd Itis they bewail,
Both unkind parents, but for causes sad,
Their wedlocks' pledges veng'd their husbands bad.
What Tereus, what Jason you provokes,
To plague your bodies with such harmful strokes?
Armenian tigers never did so ill,
Nor dares the lioness her young whelps kill.
But tender damsels do it, though with pain,
Oft dies she that her paunch-wrapp'd child hath slain.
She dies, and with loose hairs to grave is sent,
And who e'er see her, worthily lament.
But in the air let these words come to nought,
And my presages of no weight be thought.
Forgive her gracious gods this one delict,
And on the next fault punishment inflict.


Ad annulum, quem dono amicae dedit
(To the ring, which he has given as a present to his mistress)

Thou ring that shalt my fair girl's finger bind,
Wherein is seen the giver's loving mind:
Be welcome to her, gladly let her take thee,
And her small joints encircling round hoop make thee.
Fit her so well, as she is fit for me:
And of just compass for her knuckles be.
Blest ring, thou in my mistress' hand shalt lie,
Myself, poor wretch, mine own gifts now envy.
O would that suddenly into my gift,
I could myself by secret magic shift.
Then would I wish thee touch my mistress' pap,
And hide thy left hand underneath her lap.
I would get off though straight, and sticking fast,
And in her bosom strangely fall at last.
Then I, that I may seal her privy leaves,
Lest to the wax the hold-fast dry gem cleaves,
Would first my beautious wench's moist lips touch,
Only I'll sign nought, that may grieve me much.
I would not out, might I in one place hit,
But in less compass her small fingers knit.
My life, that I will shame thee never fear,
Or be a load thou should'st refuse to bear .
Wear me, when warmest showers thy members wash,
And through the gem let thy lost waters pash.
But seeing thee, I think my thing will swell,
And even the ring perform a man's part well.
Vain things why wish I? Go, small gift, from hand,
Let her my faith with thee given understand.


Ad amicam, ut ad rura sua veniat
(To his mistress, that she should come to his place in the country)

Sulmo, Peligny's third part me contains,
A small, but wholesome soil with watery veins.
Although the sun to rive the earth incline,
And the Icarian froward dog-star shine,
Pelignian fields with liquid rivers flow,
And on the soft ground fertile green grass grow.
With corn the earth abounds, with vines much more,
And some few pastures Pallas' olives bore.
And by the rising herbs, where clear springs slide,
A grassy turf the moisten'd earth doth hide.
But absent is my fire, lies I'll tell none,
My heat is here, what moves my heat is gone.
Pollux and Castor, might I stand betwixt,
In heaven without thee would I not be fix'd.
Upon the cold earth pensive let them lay,
That mean to travel some long irksome way.
Or else will maidens, young-men's mates, to go
If they determine to persever so.
Then on the rough Alps should I tread aloft,
My hard way with my mistress would seem soft.
With her I durst the Lybian Syrtes break through,
And raging seas in boist'rous south-winds plough.
No barking dogs that Scylla's entrails bear,
Nor thy gulfs, crook'd Malea, would I fear.
No flowing waves with drowned ships forth pour'd,
By cloyed Charybdis, and again devour'd.
But if stern Neptune's windy power prevail,
And waters force, force helping gods to fail,
With thy white arms upon my shoulders seize,
So sweet a burden I will bear with ease.
The youth oft swimming to his Hero kind,
Had then swum over, but the way was blind.
But without thee, although vine-planted ground
Contains me, though the streams in fields surround,
Though hinds in brooks the running waters bring,
And cool gales shake the tall trees leavy spring,
Healthful Peligny I esteem nought worth,
Nor do I like the country of my birth.
Scythia, Cilicia, Britain are as good,
And rocks died crimson with Prometheus' blood.
Elms love the vines, the vines with elms abide,
Why doth my mistress from me oft divide?
Thou swear'st, division should not 'twixt us rise,
By me, and by my stars, thy radiant eyes.
Maids' words more vain and light than falling leaves,
Which, as it seems, hence wind and sea bereaves.
If any godly care of me thou hast,
Add deed unto thy promises at last.
And with swift nags drawing thy little coach,
(Their reins let loose) right soon my house approach.
But when she comes, you swelling mounts sink down,
And falling valleys be the smooth ways' crown.


Quod Corinnae soli sit serviturus
(That he is going to serve Corinna alone)

To serve a wench if any think it shame,
He being judge, I am convinc'd of blame.
Let me be slander'd, while my fire she hides,
That Paphos, and the flood-beat Cithera guides.
Would I had been my mistress' gentle prey,
Since some fair one I should of force obey.
Beauty gives heart, Corinna's looks excel,
Ay me, why is it known to her so well?
But by her glass disdainful pride she learns,
Nor she herself but first trimm'd up discerns.
Not though thy face in all things make thee reign,
(O face most cunning mine eyes to detain)
Thou ought'st therefore to scorn me for thy mate,
Small things with greater may be copulate.
Love-snar'd Calypso is suppos'd to pray,
A mortal nymph's refusing Lord to stay.
Who doubts, with Pelius, Thetis did consort,
Egeria with just Numa had good sport,
Venus with Vulcan, though smith's tools laid by,
With his stump-foot he halts ill-favour'dly.
This kind of verse is not alike, yet fit,
With shorter numbers the heroic sit.
And thou, my light, accept me howsoever,
Lay in the mid bed, there be my law-giver.
My stay no crime, my flight no joy shall breed,
Nor of our love to be asham'd we need,
For great revenues I good verses have,
And many by me to get glory crave.
I know a wench reports herself Corinne,
What would not she give that fair name to win?
But sundry floods in one bank never go,
Eurotas cold, and poplar-bearing Po.
Nor in my books shall one but thou be writ,
Thou dost alone give matter to my wit.


Ad Macrum, quod de amoribus scribat
(To Macer, that he is writing of love)

To tragic verse while thou Achilles train'st,
And new-sworn soldiers maiden arms retain'st,
We, Macer, sit in Venus' slothful shade,
And tender love hath great things hateful made.
Often at length, my wench depart, I bid,
She in my lap sits still as erst she did.
I said 'It irks me': half to weeping fram'd,
'Ay me' she cries, 'to love, why art asham'd?'
Then wreathes about my neck her winding arms,
And thousand kisss gives, that work my harms:
I yield, and back my wit from battles bring,
Domestic acts, and mine own wars to sing.
Yet Tragedys, and sceptres fill'd my lines,
But though I apt were for such high designs,
Love laughed at my cloak, and buskins painted,
And rule so soon with private hands acquainted.
My mistress' deity also drew me fro' it,
And love triumpheth o'er his buskin'd poet.
What lawful is, or we professe love's art,
(Alas my precepts turn myself to smart)
We write, or what Penelope sends Ulysses,
Or Phillis tears that her Demophoon misses,
What thankless Jason, Macareus, and Paris,
Phaedra, and Hippolyte may read, my care is,
And what poor Dido with her drawn sword sharp,
Doth say, with her that lov'd the Aonian harp.
As soon as from strange lands Salinus came,
And writings did from divers places frame,
White-cheek'd Penelope knew Ulisses sign,
The stepdame read Hippolytus' lustless line.
Aeneas to Elisa answer gives,
And Phyllis hath to read; if now she lives.
Jason's sad letter doth Hypsipyle greet,
Sappho her vow'd harp lays at Phoebus' feet.
Nor of thee, Macer, that resound'st forth arms,
Is golden love hid in Mars mid-alarms.
There Paris is, and Helen's crimes record,
With Laodamia, mate to her dead lord.
Unless I err, to these thou more incline,
Than wars, and from thy tents wilt come to mine.


Ad rivalem, cui uxor curae non erat
(To his rival, that his wife was of no concern to him)

Fool, if to keep thy wife thou hast no need,
Keep her for me, my more desire to breed.
We scorn things lawful, stol'n sweets we affect,
Cruel is he, that loves whom none protect.
Let us both lovers hope, and fear alike,
And may repulse place for our wishes strike.
What should I do with fortune that ne'er fails me?
Nothing I love, that at all times avails me.
Wily Corinna saw this blemish in me,
And craftily knows by what means to win me.
Ah, often, that her hale head ach'd, she lying,
Will'd me, whose slow feet sought delay, be flying.
Ah, oft how much she might she feign'd offence;
And, doing wrong, made show of innocence.
So, having vex'd, she nourish'd my warm fire,
And was again most apt to my desire.
To please me, what fair terms and sweet words has she,
Great gods, what kisses, and how many gave she?
Thou also that late took'st mine eyes away,
Oft cozen me, oft being woo'd say nay.
And on thy threshold let me lie dispread,
Suff'ring much cold by hoary nights' frost bred.
So shall my love continue many years,
This doth delight me, this my courage chears.
Fat love, and too much fulsome, me annoys,
Ev'n as sweet meat a glutted stomach cloys.
In brazen tower had not Danae dwelt,
A mother's joy by Jove she had not felt.
While Juno Io keeps when horns she wore,
Jove liked her better than he did before.
Who covets lawful things takes leaves from woods,
And drinks stol'n waters in surrounding floods.
Her lover let her mock, that long will reign,
Ay me, let not my warnings cause my pain.
Whatever haps, by suff'rance harm is done,
What flies, I follow, what follows me I shun.
But thou of thy fair damsel too secure,
Begin to shut thy house at evening sure.
Search at the door who knocks oft in the dark,
In night's deep silence why the ban-dogs bark.
Whether the subtle maid lines brings and carries,
Why she alone in empty bed oft tarries.
Let this care sometimes bite thee to the quick,
That to deceits it may me forward prick.
To steal sands from the shore he loves alife,
That can affect a foolish wittol's wife.
Now I forewarn, unless to keep her stronger,
Thou dost begin, she shall be mine no longer.
Long have I borne much, hoping time would beat thee
To guard her well, that well I might entreat thee.
Thou suff'rest what no husband can endure,
But of my love it will an end procure.
Shall I, poor soul, be never interdicted?
Nor never with night's sharp revenge afflicted?
In sleeping shall I fearless draw my breath?
Wilt nothing do, why I should wish thy death?
Can I but loath a husband grown a bawd?
By thy default thou dost our joys defraud.
Some other seek that may in patience strive with thee,
To pleasure me, forbid me to corrive with thee.





Deliberatio poetae, utrum elegos pergat scribere an potius tragedias
(The deliberation of the poet on whether he should continue writing elegies, or tragedies instead)

An old wood stands, uncut of long years' space,
'Tis credible some godhead haunts the place.
In midst thereof a stone-pav'd sacred spring,
Where round about small birds most sweetly sing.
Here while I walk, hid close in shady grove,
To find, what work my muse might move, I strove.
Elegia came with hairs perfumed sweet,
And one, I think, was longer, of her feet.
A decent form, thin robe, a lover's look,
By her foot's blemish greater grace she took.
Then with huge steps came violent Tragedy,
Stern was her front, her cloak on ground did lie.
Her left hand held abroad a regal sceptre,
The Lydian buskin in fit paces kept her.
And first she said, 'When will thy love be spent,
O poet, careless of thy argument?
Wine-bibbing banquets tell thy naughtiness,
Each cross-way's corner doth as much express.
Oft some points at the prophet passing by,
And this is he whom fierce love burns, they cry.
A laughing-stock thou art to all the city,
While without shame thou sing'st thy lewdness' ditty.
'Tis time to move grave things in lofty style,
Long hast thou loiter'd; greater works compile.
The subject hides thy wit,;men's acts resound,
This thou wilt say to be a worthy ground.
Thy muse hath played what may mild girls content,
And by those numbers is thy first youth spent.
Now give the Roman Tragedy a name,
To fill my laws thy wanton spirit frame.
This said, she mov'd her buskins gaily varnish'd,
And sev'n times shook her head with thick locks garnish'd.
The other smil'd, (I wot) with wanton eyes,
Err I? Or myrtle in her right hand lies.
'With lofty words stout Tragedy', she said,
'Why tread'st me down? Art thou aye gravely play'd?
Thou deign'st unequal lines should thee rehearse,
Thou fight'st against me, using mine own verse.
Thy lofty style with mine I not compare,
Small doors unfitting for large houses are.
Light am I, and with me, my care, light Love,
Not stronger am I, than the thing I move.
Venus without me should be rustical,
This goddess' company doth to me befall.
What gate thy stately words cannot unlock,
My flatt'rihg speeches soon wide open knock.
And I deserve more than thou canst in verity,
By suff'ring much not borne by thy severity.
By me Corinna learns, cozening her guard,
To get the door with little noise unbarr'd.
And slipp'd from bed, cloth'd in a loose night-gown,
To move her feet unheard in setting down.
Ah, how oft on hard doors hung I engrav'd,
From no man's reading fearing to be sav'd.
But till the keeper went forth, I forget not,
The maid to hide me in her bosom let not.
What gift with me was on her birthday sent,
But cruelly by her was drown'd and rent?
First of thy mind the happy seeds I knew,
Thou hast my gift, which she would from thee sue.'
She left; I said, 'You both I must beseech,
To empty air may go my fearful speech.
With sceptres, and high buskins th'one would dress me,
So through the world should bright renown express me.
The other gives my love a conquering name,
Come therefore, and to long verse shorter frame.
Grant, Tragedy, thy poet times least tittle,
Thy labour ever lasts, she asks but little.'
She gave me leave, soft loves in time make haste,
Some greater work will urge me on at last.


Ad amicam cursum equorum spectantem
(To his mistress, watching horse-racing)

I sit not here the noble horse to see,
Yet whom thou favour'st, pray may conqueror be.
To sit, and talk with thee I hither came,
That thou mayst know with love thou mak'st me flame.
Thou view'st the course, I thee: let either heed
What please them, and their eyes let either feed.
What horse-driver thou favour'st most is best,
Because on him thy care doth hap to rest.
Such chance let me have: I would bravely run,
On swift steeds mounted till the race were done.
Now would I slack the reins, now lash their hide,
With wheels bent inward now the ring-turn ride.
In running if I see thee, I shall stay,
And from my hands the reins will slip away.
Ah Pelops from his coach was almost fell'd,
Hippodamia's looks while he beheld.
Yet he attain'd by her support to have her,
Let us all conquer by our mistress' favour.
In vain why fly'st back? Force conjoins us now:
The place's laws this benefit allow.
But spare my wench, thou at her right hand seated,
By thy side's touching ill she is entreated.
And sit thou rounder, that behind us see,
For shame press not her back with thy hard knee.
But on the ground thy clothes too loosely lie,
Gather them up, or lift them, lo, will I.
Envious garments, so good legs to hide,
The more thou look'st, the more the gown envied.
Swift Atalanta's flying legs, like these,
Wish in his hands grasp'd did Hippomenes.
Coat-tuck'd Diana's legs are painted like them,
When strong wild beasts she stronger hunts to strike them.
Ere these were seen, I burn'd: what will these do.
Flames into flame, floods thou pour'st seas into?
By these, I judge, delight me may the rest,
Which lie hid under her thin veil suppressed.
Yet in the meantime wilt small winds bestow,
That from thy fan, mov'd by my hand may blow?
Or is my heat of mind, not of the sky?
Is't women's love my captive breast doth fry?
While thus I speak, black dust her white robes ray:
Foul dust, from her fair body, go away.
Now comes the pomp; themselves let all men cheer:
The shout is nigh; the golden pomp comes here.
First, Victory is brought with large spread wing,
Goddess come here, make my love conquering.
Applaud you, Neptune, that dare trust his wave,
The sea I use not: me my earth must have.
Soldier applaud thy Mars: no wars we move,
Peace pleaseth me, and in mid-peace is love.
With augurs Phoebus, Phoebe with hunters stands,
To thee, Minerva, turn the craftsmen's hands.
Ceres and Bacchus countrymen adore,
Champions please Pollux, Castor loves horsemen more
Thee, gentle Venus, and the boy that flies,
We praise: great goddess aid my enterprise.
Let my new mistress grant to be beloved:
She beck'd, and prosperous signs gave as she moved.
What Venus promis'd, promise thou we pray,
Greater than her, by her leave, th'art, I'll say.
The gods and their rich pomp witness with me,
For evermore thou shalt my mistress be.
Thy legs hang down: thou mayst, if that be best,
Awhile thy tiptoes on the foot-stool rest.
Now greatest spectacles the praetor sends,
Four chariot-horses from the lists' ev'n ends.
I see whom thou affect'st: he shall subdue,
The horses seem as thy desire they knew.
Alas he runs too far about the ring,
What dost? Thy wagon in less compass bring.
What dost, unhappy? Her good wishes fade,
Let with strong hand the rein to bend be made.
One slow we favour; Romans, him revoke:
And each give signs by casting up his cloak.
They call him back: lest their gowns toss thy hair,
To hide thee in my bosom straight repair.
But now again the barriers open lie;
And forth the gay troops on swift horses fly.
At least now conquer, and out-run the rest:
My mistress' wish confirm with my request.
My mistress hath her wish, my wish remain:
He holds the palm: my palm is yet to game.
She smil'd, and with quick eyes behight some grace:
Pay it not here, but in an other place.


De amica, quae periuraverat
(Concerning his mistress, who has perjured herself)

What, are there gods? Herself she hath forswore,
And yet remains the face she had before.
How long her locks were, ere her oath she took:
So long they be, since she her faith forsook.
Fair white with rose red was before commix'd:
Now shine her looks pure white and red betwixt.
Her foot was small: her foot's form is most fit:
Comely tall was she, comely tall she's yet.
Sharp eyes she had: radiant like stars they be,
By which she perjur'd oft hath lied to me.
In sooth th'eternal powers grant maids society
Falsely to swear , their beauty hath some deity.
By her eyes I remember late she swore,
And by mine eyes, and mine were pained sore.
Say gods: if she unpunish'd you deceive,
For others faults, why do I loss receive?
But did you not so envy Cepheus' daughter,
For her ill-beauteous mother judg'd to slaughter?
'Tis not enough, she shakes your record off;
And unreveng'd mock'd gods with me doth scoff.
But by my pain to purge her perjuries,
Cozen'd, I am the cozener's sacrifice.
God is a name, no substance, fear'd in vain,
And doth the world in fond belief detain.
Or if there be a God, he loves fine wenches,
And all things too much in their sole power drenches.
Mars girts his deadly sword on for my harm:
Pallas lance strikes me with unconquer'd arm.
At me Apollo bends his pliant bow:
At me Jove's right-hand lightning hath to throw.
The wronged gods dread fair ones to offend,
And fear those, that to fear them least intend.
Who now will care the altars to perfume?
Tut, men should not their courage so consume.
Jove throws down woods and castles with his fire:
But bids his darts from perjur'd girls retire.
Poor Semele, among so many burn'd;
Her own request to her own torment turn'd.
But when her lover came, had she drawn back,
The father's thigh should unborn Bacchus lack.
Why grieve I? And of heaven reproaches pen?
The gods have eyes and breasts as well as men.
Were I a god, I should give women leave,
With lying lips my godhead to deceive,
Myself would swear , the wenches true did swear ,
And I would be none of the gods severe.
But yet their gift more moderately use,
Or in mine eyes, good wench, no pain transfuse.


Ad virum servantem coniugem
(To the husband keeping a watch on his spouse)

Rude man, 'tis vain, thy damsel to commend
To keeper's trust: their wits should them defend.
Who, without fear, is chaste, is chaste in sooth:
Who, because means want, doeth not, she doth.
Though thou her body guard, her mind is stain'd:
Nor, lest she will, can any be restrain'd.
Nor canst by watching keep her mind from sin.
All being shut out, th'adulterer is within.
Who may offend, sins least; power to do ill,
The fainting seeds of naughtiness doth kill.
Forbear to kindle vice by prohibition,
Sooner shall kindness game thy will's fruition.
I saw a horse against the bit stiff-neck'd,
Like lightning go, his struggling mouth being check'd.
When he perceiv'd the reins let slack, he stay'd,
And on his loose mane the loose bridle laid.
How to attain, what is denied, we think,
Even as the sick desire forbidden drink.
Argus had either way an hundred eyes,
Yet by deceit Love did them all surprise.
In stone, and iron walls Danae shut,
Came forth a mother, though a maid there put.
Penelope, though no watch look'd unto her,
Was not defil'd by any gallant wooer.
What's kept, we covet more: the care makes theft:
Few love what others have unguarded left.
Nor doth her face please, but her husband's love;
I know not, what men think should thee so move.
She is not chaste that's kept, but a dear whore:
Thy fear is than her body valued more.
Although thou chafe, stol'n pleasure is sweet play,
She pleaseth best, I fear, if any say.
A free-born wench, no right 'tis up to lock:
So use we women of strange nations' stock.
Because the keeper may come, say 'I did it',
She must be honest to thy servant's credit.
He is too clownish, whom a lewd wife grieves,
And this town's well-known customs not believes,
Where Mars his sons not without fault did breed,
Remus and Romulus, Ilia's twin-born seed.
Cannot a fair one, if not chaste, please thee?
Never can these by any means agree.
Kindly thy mistress use, if thou be wise.
Look gently, and rough husbands laws despise.
Honour what friends thy wife gives, she'll give many:
Least labour so shall win great grace of any.
So shalt thou go with youths to feasts together,
And see at home much that thou ne'er brought'st thither.


Ad amnem, dum iter faceret ad amicam
(To the river, while he travels to his mistress)

Flood with reed-grown slime banks, till I be past
Thy waters stay: I to my mistress haste.
Thou hast no bridge, nor boat with ropes to throw,
That may transport me without oars to row.
Thee I have pass'd, and knew thy stream none such,
When thy waves brim did scarce my ankles touch.
With snow thaw'd from the next hill now thou rushest,
And in thy foul deep waters thick thou gushest.
What helps my haste: what to have ta'en small rest?
What day and night to travel in her quest?
If standing here I can by no means get,
My foot upon the further bank to set.
Now wish I those wings noble Perseus had,
Bearing the head with dreadful adders clad,
Now wish the chariot, whence corn seeds were found,
First to be thrown upon the untill'd ground.
I speak old poets' wonderful invention,
Ne'er was, nor shall be, what my verses mention.
Rather thou large bank over-flowing river,
Slide in thy bounds, so shalt thou run for ever.
(Trust me) land-stream thou shalt no envy lack,
If I a lover be by thee held back.
Great floods ought to assist young men in love,
Great floods the force of it do often prove.
In mid Bithynia, 'tis said, Inachus,
Grew pale, and in cold fords hot lecherous.
Troy had not yet been ten years siege outstander,
Whem nymph Neaera rapt thy looks Scamander.
What? Not Alpheus in strange lands to run,
Th'Arcadian virgin's constant love hath won?
And Creusa unto Zanthus first affied,
They say Peneus near Phthia's town did hide.
What should I name Aesop, that Thebe lov'd,
Thebe, who mother of five daughters prov'd?
If Achelous, I ask where thy horns stand,
Thou say'st, broke with Alcides' angry hand.
Not Calydon, nor Aetolia did please:
One Dejanira was more worth then these.
Rich Nile by seven mouths to the vast sea flowing,
Who so well keeps his water's head from knowing,
Is by Evadne thought to take such flame,
As his deep whirlpools could not quench the same.
Dry Enipeus, Tyro to embrace,
Fly back his stream charg'd, the stream charg'd, gave place.
Nor pass I thee, who hollow rocks down tumbling,
In Tibur's field with wat'ry foam art rumbling,
Whom Ilia pleas'd, though in her looks grief revell'd,
Her cheeks were scratch'd, her goodly hairs dishevell'd.
She, wailing Mars' sin, and her uncle's crime,
Stray'd bare-foot through sole places on a time.
Her, from his swift waves, the bold flood perceiv'd,
And from the mid-ford his hoarse voice upheav'd,
Saying, 'Why sadly tread'st my banks upon,
Ilia, sprung from Idaean Laomedon?
Where's thy attire? Why wand'rest here alone?
To stay thy tresses white veil hast thou none?
Why weep'st? And spoil'st with tears thy wat'ry eyes?
And fiercely knock'st thy breast that open lies?
His heart consists of flint, and hardest steel
That seeing thy tears any joy can feel.
Fear not: to thee our court stands open wide,
There shalt be lov'd: Ilia, lay fear aside.
Thou o'er a hundred nymphs or more shalt reign:
For five score nymphs or more our floods contain.
Nor, Roman stock, scorn me so much (I crave)
Gifts than my promise greater thou shalt have.'
This said he: she her modest eyes held down,
Her woeful bosom a warm shower did drown.
Thrice she prepar'd to fly, thrice she did stay,
By fear depriv'd of strength to run away.
Yet rending with enraged thumb her tresses,
Her trembling mouth these unmeet sounds expresses.
'O would in my forefathers' tombe, deep laid,
My bones had been, while yet I was a maid.
Why, being a vestal, am I woo'd to wed,
Deflowr'd and stained in unlawful bed?
Why stay I? Men point at me for a whore,
Shame, that should make me blush, I have no more.'
This said: her coat hoodwink'd her fearful eyes,
And into water desperately she flies.
'Tis said the slippery stream held up her breast,
And kindly gave her what she liked best.
And I believe some wench thou hast affected:
But woods and groves keep your faults undetected.
While thus I speak, the waters more abounded:
And from the channel all abroad surrounded.
Mad stream, why dost our mutual joys defer?
Clown, from my journey why dost me deter?
How would'st thou flow wert thou a noble flood,
If thy great fame in every region stood?
Thou hast no name, but com'st from snowy mountains;
No certain house thou hast, nor any fountains.
Thy springs are nought but rain and melted snow:
Which wealth, cold winter doth on thee bestow.
Either th'art muddy in mid-winter tide:
Or full of dust dost on the dry earth slide.
What thirsty traveller ever drunk of thee?
Who said with grateful voice 'Perpetual be'?
Harmful to beasts, and to the fields thou proves:
Perchance these, others, me mine own loss moves.
To this I fondly loves of floods told plainly:
I shame so great names to have used so vainly:
I know not what expecting, I ere while
Nam'd Achelaus, Inachus, and Nile,
But for thy merits I wish thee, white stream,
Dry winters aye, and suns in heat extreme.


Quod ab amica receptus, cum ea coire non potuit, conqueritur
(He complains that, being admitted by his mistress, he couldn't copulate)

Either she was foul, or her attire was bad,
Or she was not the wench I wish'd t'have had.
Idly I lay with her, as if I lov'd not,
And like a burden griev'd the bed that mov'd not.
Though both of us perform'd our true intent,
Yet could I not cast anchor where I meant,
She on my neck her ivory arms did throw,
That were as white as is the Scythean snow,
And eagerly she kiss'd me with her tongue,
And under mine her wanton thigh she flung,
Yea, and she sooth'd me up, and call'd me 'Sir',
And used all speech that might provoke and stir.
Yet like as if cold hemlock I had drunk,
It mocked me, hung down the head, and sunk,
Like a dull cipher, or rude block I lay,
Or shade, or body was I, who can say?
What will my age do, age I cannot shun,
Seeing in my prime my force is spent and done?
I blush, that being youthful, hot, and lusty,
I prove neither youth nor man, but old and rusty.
Pure rose she, like a nun to sacrifice,
Or one that with her tender brother lies,
Yet boarded I the golden city twice,
And Libas, and the white cheek'd Pitho thrice,
Corinna crav'd it in a summer's night,
And nine sweet bouts had we before daylight.
What, waste my limbs through some Thessalian charms
May spells and drugs do silly souls such harms?
With virgin wax hath some imbas'd my joints,
And pierc'd my liver with sharp needle points?
Charms change corn to grass, and makes it die,
By charms are running springs and fountains dry,
By charms mast drops from oaks, from vines grapes fall,
And fruit from trees, when there's no wind at all.
Why might not then my sinews be enchanted,
And I grow faint, as with some spirit haunted?
To this add shame; shame to perform, it quail'd me,
And was the second cause why vigour fail'd me:
My idle thoughts delighted her no more
Than did the robe or garment which she wore,
Yet might her touch make youthful Pilius fire,
And Tithon livelier than his years require.
Even her I had, and she had me in vain,
What might I crave more if I ask again?
I think the great gods grieved they had bestowed
This benefit, which lewdly I forslow'd:
I wished to be receiv'd in, in I get me;
To kiss, I kiss, to lie with her she let me.
Why was I blest? Why made king to refuse it?
Chuff-like had I not gold, and could not use it?
So in a spring thrives he that told so much,
And looks upon the fruits he cannot touch.
Hath any rose so from a fresh young maid,
As she might straight have gone to church and pray'd?
Well, I believe she kiss'd not as she should,
Nor used the sleight nor cunning which she could,
Huge oaks, hard adamants might she have mov'd,
And with sweet words cause deaf rocks to have lov'd.
Worthy she was to move both gods and men,
But neither was I man, nor lived then.
Can deaf ears take delight when Phemius sings,
Or Thamyris in curious-painted things?
What sweet thought is there but I had the same?
And one gave place still as another came.
Yet notwithstanding, like one dead it lay,
Drooping more than a rose pull'd yesterday:
Now when he should not jet, he bolts upright,
And craves his task, and seeks to be at fight.
Lie down with shame, and see thou stir no more,
Seeing now thou would'st deceive me as before:
Thou cozenest me, by thee surpris'd am I,
And bide sore loss, with endless infamy.
Nay more, the wench did not disdain a whit,
To take it in her hand and play with it.
But when she saw it would by no means stand,
But still droop'd down, regarding not her hand,
'Why mock'st thou me?' she cried, 'Or being ill,
Who bade thee lie down here against thy will?
Either th'art witch'd with blood of frogs new dead,
Or jaded cam'st thou from some other's bed!'
With that her loose gown on, from me she cast her,
In skipping out her naked feet much grac'd her.
And lest her maid should know of this disgrace,
To cover it, spilt water in the place.


Quod ab amica non recipiatur, dolet
(He is grieved that he is not entertained by his mistress)

What man will now take liberal arts in hand,
Or think soft verse in any stead to stand?
Wit was sometimes more precious then gold,
Now poverty great barbarism we hold.
When our books did my mistress fair content,
I might not go, whether my papers went.
She prais'd me, yet the gate shut fast upon her,
I here and there go witty with dishonour.
See a rich chuff whose wounds great wealth inferr'd,
For bloodshed knighted, before me preferr'd.
Fool, canst thou him in thy white arms embrace?
Fool, canst thou lie in his enfolding space?
Knowst not this head a helm was wont to bear?
This side that serves thee, a sharp sword did wear .
His left hand whereon gold doth ill alight,
A target bore: blood-sprinkled was his right.
Canst touch that hand wherewith someone lie dead?
Ah, whither is thy breast's soft nature fled?
Behold the signs of ancient fight, his scars,
What ere he hath his body gain'd in wars.
Perhaps he'll tell how oft he slew a man,
Confessing this, why dost thou touch him then?
I the pure priest of Phoebus and the Muses,
At thy deaf doors in verse sing my abuses.
Not what we slothful know, let wise men learn,
But follow trembling camps, and battles stem,
And for a good verse draw the first dart forth,
Homer without this shall be nothing worth.
Jove, being admonished, gold had sovereign power,
To win the maid came in a golden shower.
Till then, rough was her father, she severe,
The posts of brass, the walls of iron were.
But when in gifts the wise adulterer came,
She held her lap ope to receive the same.
Yet when old Saturn heaven's rule possess'd,
All game in darkness the deep earth suppress'd.
Gold, silver, irons heavy weight, and brass,
In hell were harbour'd, here was found no mass.
But better things it gave, corn without ploughs,
Apples, and honey in oak's hollow boughs.
With strong ploughshares no man the earth did cleave,
The ditcher no marks on the ground did leave.
Nor hanging oars the troubled seas did sweep,
Men kept the shore, and sail'd not into deep.
Against thyself, man's nature, thou wert cunning,
And to thine own loss was thy wit swift running.
Why gird'st thy cities with a tower'd wall?
Why lett'st discordant hands to armour fall?
What dost with seas? With th'earth thou wert content,
Why seek'st not heav'n, the third realm, to frequent?
Heav'n thou affects, with Romulus, temples brave
Bacchus, Alcides, and now Caesar have.
Gold from the earth instead of fruits we pluck,
Soldiers by blood to be enrich'd have luck.
Courts shut the poor out; wealth gives estimation,
Thence grows the judge, and knight of reputation.
All, they possess: they govern fields, and laws,
They manage peace, and raw war's bloody jaws,
Only our loves let not such rich churls gain,
'Tis well, if some wench for the poor remain.
Now, Sabine-like, though chaste she seems to live,
One her commands, who many things can give.
For me, she doth keeper and husband fear,
If I should give, both would the house forbear.
If of scorn'd lovers God be venger just,
O let him change goods so ill-got to dust.


Tibulli mortem deflet
(He grieves for the death of Tibullus)

If Thetis, and the morn their sons did wail,
And envious fates great goddesses assail,
Sad Elegia, thy woeful hairs unbind:
Ah, now a name too true thou hast, I find.
Tibullus, thy work's poet, and thy fame,
Burns his dead body in the funeral flame.
Lo, Cupid brings his quiver spoiled quite,
His broken bow, his fire-brand without light.
How piteously with drooping wings he stands,
And knocks his bare breast with self-angry hands.
The locks spread on his neck receive his tears,
And shaking sobs his mouth for speeches bears.
So at Aeneas' burial, men report,
Fair-fac'd Iulus, he went forth thy court.
And Venus grieves, Tibullus life being spent,
As when the wild boar Adon's groin had rent.
The gods' care we are call'd, and men of piety,
And some there be that think we have a deity.
Outrageous death profanes all holy things
And on all creatures obscure darkness brings.
To Thracian Orpheus, what did parents good?
Or songs amazing wild beasts of the wood?
Where Linus by his father Phoebus layed
To sing with his unequall'd harp is said.
See Homer, from whose fountain ever fill'd,
Pierian dew to poets is distill'd.
Him the last day in black Avern hath drown'd,
Verses alone are with continuance crown'd.
The work of poets lasts Troy's labour's fame,
And that slow web night's falsehood did unframe.
So Nemesis, so Delia famous are,
The one his first love, th'other his new care.
What profit to us hath our pure life bred?
What to have lain alone in empty bed?
When bad fates take good men, I am forbod,
By secret thoughts to think there is a god.
Live godly, thou shalt die, though honour heaven,
Yet shall thy life be forcibly bereaven.
Trust in good verse, Tibullus feels death's pains,
Scarce rests of all what a small urn contains.
Thee, sacred poet, could sad flames destroy?
Nor fear'd they thy body to annoy?
The holy gods' gilt temples they might fire,
That durst to so great wickedness aspire.
Eryx' bright empress turn'd her looks aside,
And some, that she refrain'd tears have denied.
Yet better is't, than if Corcyra's isle
Had thee unknown interr'd in ground most vile.
Thy dying eyes here did thy mother close,
Nor did thy ashes her last off'rings lose.
Part of her sorrow here thy sister bearing,
Comes forth her uncomb'd locks asunder tearing.
Nemesis and thy first wench join their kisses,
With thine, nor this last fire their presence misses.
Delia departing, 'Happier lov'd', she saith,
'Was I: thou liv'dst, while thou esteem'dst my faith.'
Nemesis answers, 'What's my loss to thee?
His fainting hand in death engrasped me'.
If aught remains of us but name, and spirit,
Tibullus doth Elysium's joy inherit.
Their youthful brows with ivy girt to meet him,
With Calvus, learn'd Catullus, come and greet him.
And thou, if falsely charg'd to wrong thy friend,
Gallus that car'dst not blood and life to spend.
With these thy soul walks, souls if death release,
The godly sweet Tibullus doth increase.
Thy bones I pray may in the urn safe rest,
And may th'earth's weight thy ashes nought molest.


Ad Cererem, conquerens quod eius sacris cum amica concumbere non permittatur
(To Ceres, complaining that he is not allowed to sleep with his mistress because of her sacraments)

Come were the times of Ceres' sacrifice,
In empty bed alone my mistress lies.
Golden-hair'd Ceres crown'd with ears of corn,
Why are our pleasures by thy means forborne?
Thee, goddess, bountiful all nations judge,
Nor less at man's prosperity any grudge.
Rude husbandmen bak'd not their corn before,
Nor on the earth was known the name of floor.
On mast of oaks, first oracles, men fed,
This was their meat, the soft grass was their bed.
First Ceres taught the seede in fields to swell,
And ripe-eared corn with sharp-edg'd scythes to fell.
She first constrain'd bulls' necks to bear the yoke,
And untill'd ground with crooked plough-shares broke.
Who thinks her to be glad at lovers' smart,
And worshipp'd by their pain, and lying apart?
Nor is she, though she loves the fertile fields,
A clown, nor no love from her warm breast yields.
Be witnesse Crete (nor Crete doth all things feign)
Crete proud that Jove her nursery maintain.
There, he who rules the world's star-spangled towers,
A little boy drunk teat-distilling showers.
Faith to the witness Jove's praise doth apply,
Ceres, I think, no known fault will deny.
The goddess saw Iasion on Candian Ide,
With strong hand striking wild beasts' brist'led hide.
She saw, and as her marrow took the flame,
Was divers ways distract with love, and shame.
Love conquer'd shame, the furrows dry were burn'd,
And come with least part of itself return'd.
When well-toss'd mattocks did the ground prepare,
Being fit broken with the crooked share,
And seeds were equally in large fields cast,
The ploughman's hopes were frustrate at the last.
The grain-rich goddess in high woods did stray,
Her long hair's ear-wrought garland fell away.
Only was Crete fruitful that plenteous year,
Where Ceres went, each place was harvest there.
Ida the seat of groves did sing with corn,
Which by the wild boar in the woods was shorn.
Law-giving Minos did such years desire;
And wished the goddess long might feel love's fire.
Ceres, what sports to thee so grievous were,
As in thy sacrifice we them forbear?
Why am I sad, when Proserpine is found,
And Juno-like with Dis reigns underground?
Festival days ask Venus, songs, and wine,
These gifts are meet to please the powers divine.


Ad amicam, a cuius amore discedere non potest
(To his mistress, whom he cannot stop loving)

Long have I borne much, mad thy faults me make:
Dishonest love my wearied breast forsake,
Now have I freed myself, and fled the chain,
And what I have borne, shame to bear again.
We vanquish, and tread tam'd love under feet,
Victorious wreathes at length my temples greet.
Suffer, and harden: good grows by this grief,
Oft bitter juice brings to the sick relief.
I have sustain'd so oft thrust from the door,
To lay my body on the hard moist floor.
I know not whom thou lewdly didst embrace,
When I to watch supplied a servant's place.
I saw when forth a tired lover went,
His side past service, and his courage spent.
Yet this is less, then if he had seen me,
May that shame fall mine enemies' chance to be.
When have not I fixed to thy side close laid?
I have thy husband, guard, and fellow play'd.
The people by my company she pleas'd,
My love was cause that more men's love she seiz'd.
What should I tell her vain tongue's filthy lies,
And to my loss God-wronging perjuries?
What secret becks in banquets with her youths,
With privy signs, and talk dissembling truths?
Hearing her to be sick, I thither ran,
But with my rival sick she was not than.
These harden'd me, with what I keep obscure,
Some other seek, who will these things endure.
Now my ship in the wished haven crown'd,
With joy hears Neptune's swelling waters sound.
Leave thy once powerful words, and flatteries,
I am not as I was before, unwise.
Now love, and hate my light breast each way move;
But victory, I think, will hap to love.
I'll hate, if I can; if not, love 'gainst my will:
Bulls hate the yoke, yet what they hate have still.
I fly her lust, but follow beauty's creature;
I loath her manners, love her body's feature.
Nor with thee, nor without thee can I live,
And doubt to which desire the palm to give.
Or less fair, or less lewd would thou might'st be,
Beauty with lewdness doth right ill agree.
Her deeds gain hate, her face entreateth love:
Ah, she doth more worth then her vices prove.
Spare me, O by our fellow bed, by all
The gods who by thee to be perjur'd fall,
And by thy face to me a power divine,
And by thine eyes whose radiance burns out mine.
Whate'er thou art, mine art thou: choose this course,
Wilt have me willing, or to love by force?
Rather I'll hoist up sail, and use the wind,
That I may love yet, though against my mind.


Dolet amicam suam ita suis carminibus innotuisse ut rivales multos sibi pararit
(He grieves that his mistress has been given so much publicity by his poems that he has provided himself with many rivals)

What day was that, which all sad haps to bring,
White birds to lovers did not always sing?
Or is I think my wish against the stars?
Or shall I plain some god against me wars?
Who mine was call'd, whom I lov'd more then any,
I fear with me is common now to many.
Err I? Or by my books is she so known?
'Tis so: by my wit her abuse is grown.
And justly: for her praise why did I tell?
The wench by my fault is set forth to sell.
The bawd I play, lovers to her I guide:
Her gate by my hands is set open wide.
'Tis doubtfiil whether verse avail, or harm,
Against my good they were an envious charm.
When Thebes, when Troy, when Caesar should be writ,
Alone Corinna moves my wanton wit.
With Muse oppos'd would I my lines had done,
And Phoebus had forsook my work begun.
Nor, as use will not poets' record hear ,
Would I my words would any credit bear .
Scylla by us her father's rich hair steals,
And Scylla's womb mad raging dogs conceals.
We cause feet fly, we mingle hairs with snakes,
Victorious Perseus a wing'd steed's back takes.
Our verse great Tityus a huge space out-spreads,
And gives the viper-curled dog three heads.
We make Enceladus use a thousand arms,
And men enthrall'd by mermaids' singing charms.
The east winds in Ulysses bags we shut,
And blabbing Tantalus in mid-waters put.
Niobe flint, Callist we make a bear,
Bird-changed Procne doth her Itys tear.
Jove turns himself into a swan, or gold,
Or his bull's horns Europa's hand doth hold.
Proteus what should I name? Teeth, Thebes first seed?
Oxen in whose mouths burning flames did breed?
Heav'n star Electra that bewail'd her sisters?
The ships, whose godhead in the sea now glisters?
The sun turn'd back from Atreus' cursed table?
And sweet-touch'd harp that to move stones was able?
Poets' large power is boundless, and immense,
Nor have their words true history's pretence,
And my wench ought to have seem'd falsely prais'd,
Now your credulity harm to me hath rais'd.


De Iunonis festo
(On the festival of Juno)

When fruit-fill'd Tuscia should a wife give me,
We touch'd the walls, Camillus, won by thee.
The Priests to Juno did prepare chaste feasts,
With famous pageants, and their home-bred beasts.
To know their rites, well recompenc'd my stay,
Though thither leads a rough steep hilly way.
There stands an old wood with thick trees dark clouded,
Who sees it, grants some deity there is shrouded.
An altar takes men's incense, and oblation,
An altar made after the ancient fashion.
Here when the pipe with solemn tunes doth sound,
The annual pomp goes on the cover'd ground.
White heifers by glad people forth are led,
Which with the grass of Tuscan fields are fed.
And calves from whose fear'd front no threat'ning flies,
And little pigs, base hog-sties' sacrifice,
And rams with horns their hard heads wreathed back.
Only the goddess-hated goat did lack,
By whom disclos'd, she in the high woods took,
Is said to have attempted flight forsook.
Now is the goat brought through the boys with darts,
And give to him that the first wound imparts.
Where Juno comes, each youth, and pretty maid,
Show large ways with their garments there displayed.
Jewels and gold their virgin tresses crown,
And stately robes to their gilt feet hang down.
As is the use, the nuns in white veils clad,
Upon their heads the holy mysteries had.
When the chief pomp comes, loud the people hollow,
And she her vestal virgin priests doth follow.
Such was the Greek pomp, Agamemnon dead,
Which fact, and country wealth Halesus fled.
And having wander'd now through sea and land,
Built walls high-tower'd with a prosperous hand.
He to th'Etrurians Juno's feast commended,
Let me, and them by it be aye befriended.


Ad amicam si peccatura est, ut occulte peccet
(To his mistress, that if she sin, she sin in secret)

Seeing thou art fair, I bar not thy false playing,
But let not me poor soul know of thy straying.
Nor do I give thee counsel to live chaste,
But that thou would'st dissemble when 'tis past.
She hath not trod awry that doth deny it,
Such as confess, have lost their good names by it.
What madness is't to tell night pranks by day,
And hidden secrets openly to bewray?
The strumpet with the stranger will not do,
Before the roome be clear, and door put to.
Will you make shipwreck of your honest name,
And let the world be witness of the same?
Be more advis'd, walk as a puritan,
And I shall think you chaste, do what you can.
Slip still, only deny it when 'tis done,
And before folk immodest speeches shun,
The bed is for lascivious toyings meet,
There use all tricks, and tread shame under feet.
When you are up and dress'd, be sage and grave,
And in the bed hide all the faults you have,
Be not ashamed to strip you being there,
And mingle thighs, yours ever mine to bear .
There in your rosy lips my tongue entomb,
Practise a thousand sports when there you come,
Forbear no wanton words you there would speak,
And with your pastime let the bedstead creak,
But with your robes, put on an honest face,
And blush, and seem as you were full of grace.
Deceive all, let me err, and think I'm right,
And like a wittol think thee void of sleight.
Why see I lines so oft receiv'd and given,
This bed, and that by tumbling made uneven,
Like one start up, your hair toss'd and displac'd,
And with a wanton's tooth, your neck new-rac'd?
Grant this, that what you do I may not see,
If you weigh not ill speeches, yet weigh me:
My soul fleets when I think what you have done,
And thorough every vein doth cold blood run,
Then thee whom I must love I hate in vain,
And would be dead, but dying with thee remain.
I'll not sift much, but hold thee soon excus'd,
Say but thou wert injuriously accus'd.
Though while the deed be doing you be took,
And I see when you ope the two-leaved book:
Swear I was blind, yield not, if you be wise,
And I will trust your words more then mine eyes.
From him that yields, the garland is quickly got,
Teach but your tongue to say, I did it not,
And being justified by two words, think
The cause acquits you not, but I that wink.


Ad Venerem, quod elegis finem imponat
(To Venus, that he is bringing the elegies to an end)

Tender Love's mother, a new poet get,
This last end to my elegies is set,
Which I Peligny's foster-child have fram'd,
(Nor am I by such wanton toys defam'd)
Heir of an ancient house, if help that can,
Not only by war's rage made gentleman.
In Virgil Mantua joys: in Catul Verone,
Of me Peligny's nation boasts alone,
Whom liberty to honest arms compell'd,
When careful Rome in doubt their prowess held.
And some guest viewing wat'ry Sulmo's walls,
Where little ground to be enclos'd befalls,
'How such a poet could you bring forth', says,
'How small soe'er, I'll you for greatest praise'.
Both loves to whom my heart long time did yield,
Your golden ensigns pluck out of my field,
Horn'd Bacchus' graver fury doth distil,
A greater ground with great horse is to till.
Weak elegies, delightful Muse, farewell;
A work, that after my death, here shall dwell.


© This edition and HTML version, Peter Farey, 2002
Based upon an e-text in original spelling from Tufts University:

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