THE POEMS AND FRAGMENTS OF CATULLUS,
TRANSLATED IN THE METRES OF THE ORIGINAL
FELLOW OF TRINITY COLLEGE, OXFORD, PROFESSOR OF LATIN IN UNIVERSITY COLLEGE, LONDON.
LONDON: JOHN MURRAY, ALBEMARLE STREET. 1871.
LONDON: BRADBURY, EVANS, AND CO., PRINTERS, WHITEFRIARS.
TO ALFRED TENNYSON.
[Transcriber's note: The preface uses macrons and breves above some letters to indicate stresses. I have rendered the letters with breve inside parenthesis (like th(i)s) and the letters with macron inside square brackets (like th[i]s).]
The idea of translating Catullus in the original metres adopted by the poet himself was suggested to me many years ago by the admirable, though, in England, insufficiently known, version of Theodor Heyse (Berlin, 1855). My first attempts were modelled upon him, and were so unsuccessful that I dropt the idea for some time altogether. In 1868, the year following the publication of my larger critical edition[A] of Catullus, I again took up the experiment, and translated into English glyconics the first Hymenaeal, Collis o Heliconici. Tennyson's Alcaics and Hendecasyllables had appeared in the interval, and had suggested to me the new principle on which I was to go to work. It was not sufficient to reproduce the ancient metres, unless the ancient quantity was reproduced also. Almost all the modern writers of classical metre had contented themselves with making an accented syllable long, an unaccented short; the most familiar specimens of hexameter, Longfellow's Evangeline and Clough's Bothie of Tober-na-Vuolich and Amours de Voyage were written on this principle, and, as a rule, stopped there. They almost invariably disregarded position, perhaps the most important element of quantity. In the first line of Evangeline—
This is the forest primeval, the murmuring pines and the hemlocks,
there are no less than five violations of position, to say nothing of the shortening of a syllable so distinctly long as the i in primeval. Mr. Swinburne, in his Sapphics and Hendecasyllables, while writing on a manifestly artistic conception of those metres, and, in my judgment, proving their possibility for modern purposes by the superior rhythmical effect which a classically trained ear enabled him to make in handling them, neglects position as a rule, though his nice sense of metre leads him at times to observe it, and uniformly rejects any approach to the harsh combinations indulged in by other writers. The nearest approach to quantitative hexameters with which I am acquainted in modern English writers is the Andromeda of Mr. Kingsley, a poem which has produced little effect, but is interesting as a step to what may fairly be called a new development of the metre. For the experiments of the Elizabethan writers, Sir Philip Sidney and others, by that strange perversity which so often dominates literature, were as decidedly unsuccessful from an accentual, as the modern experiments from a quantitative point of view. Sir Philip Sidney has given in his Arcadia specimens of hexameters, elegiacs, sapphics, asclepiads, anacreontics, hendecasyllables. The following elegiacs will serve as a sample.
Unto a caitif wretch, whom long affliction holdeth, And now fully believ's help to bee quite perished; Grant yet, grant yet a look, to the last moment of his anguish, O you (alas so I finde) caus of his onely ruine: Dread not awhit (O goodly cruel) that pitie may enter Into thy heart by the sight of this Epistle I send: And so refuse to behold of these strange wounds the recitall, Lest it might m' allure home to thyself to return.
In these the classical laws of position are most carefully observed; every dactyl ending in a consonant is followed by a word beginning with a vowel or h—affl[i]ct(i)(o)n holdeth, mom[e]nt (o)f h(i)s anguish, ca[u]se (o)f h(i)s onely; affliction wasteth, moment of his dolour, cause of his dreary, would have been as impossible to Sir Philip Sidney as mo[e]r(o)r t(e)nebat, mom[e]nt(a) p(e)r curae, ca[u]s(a) v(e)l sola in a Latin writer of hexameters. Similarly where the dactyl is incided after the second syllable, the third syllable beginning a new word, the utmost care is taken that that word shall begin not only with a syllable essentially short, but, when the second syllable ends in a consonant, with a vowel: [o]f th(i)s (e)pistle, but not [o]f th(i)s d(i)saster, still less [o]f th(i)s d(i)rection. The other element of quantity is less rigidly defined; for (1) syllables strictly long, as I, thy, so, are allowed to be short; (2) syllables made long by the accent falling upon them are in some cases shortened, as r(u)[i]ne, p(e)r(i)sh[e]d, cr(u)[e]l; (3) syllables which the absence of the accent only allows to be long in thesi, are, in virtue of the classical laws of position, permitted to rank as long elsewhere—mom[e]nt of his, [o]f this epistle. It needs little reflection to see that it is to one or other of these three peculiarities that the failure of the Elizabethan writers of classical metres must be ascribed. Pentameters like
Gratefulness, sweetness, holy love, hearty regard, That the delights of life shall be to him dolorous, And even in that love shall I reserve him a spite;
Are then humane mindes privileg'd so meanly As that hateful death can abridg them of power With the vow of truth to record to all worlds That we bee her spoils?
F[i]re n(o) l(i)quor can cool: Nept[u]ne's re[a]lm would not avail us. Nurs inw[a]rd m(a)l(a)di[e]s, which have not scope to bee breath'd out. Oh n(o) n(o), worthie sheph[e]rd, worth c[a]n never enter a title;
are too alien from ordinary pronunciation to please either an average reader or a classically trained student. The same may be said of the translation into English hexameters of the two first Eclogues of Virgil, appended by William Webbe to his Discourse of English Poetrie (1586, recently reprinted by Mr. Arber). Here is his version of Ecl. I., 1-10.
Tityrus, happilie then lyste tumbling under a beech tree, All in a fine oate pipe these sweete songs lustilie chaunting: We, poore soules goe to wracke, and from these coastes be remoued, And fro our pastures sweete: thou Tityr, at ease in a shade plott Makst thicke groues to resound with songes of brave Amarillis.
O Melibaeus, he was no man, but a God who releeude me: Euer he shalbe my God: from this same Sheepcot his alters Neuer, a tender lambe shall want, with blood to bedew them. This good gift did he giue, to my steeres thus freelie to wander, And to my selfe (thou seest) on pipe to resound what I listed.
Here no unwoonted foode shall grieue young theaues who be laded, Nor the infections foule of neighbours flocke shall annoie them. Happie olde man. In shaddowy bankes and coole prettie places, Heere by the quainted floodes and springs most holie remaining. Here, these quicksets fresh which lands seuer out fro thy neighbors And greene willow rowes which Hiblae bees doo rejoice in, Oft fine whistring noise, shall bring sweete sleepe to thy sences.
The following stanzas are from a Sapphic ode into which Webbe translated, or as we should say, transposed the fourth Eclogue of Spenser's Sheepheardes Calendar.
Say, behold did ye euer her Angelike face, Like to Phoebe fayre? or her heauenly hauour And the princelike grace that in her remaineth? haue yee the like seene?
Vnto that place Caliope dooth high her, Where my Goddesse shines: to the same the Muser After her with sweete Violines about them cheerefully tracing.
All ye Sheepheardes maides that about the greene dwell, Speede ye there to her grace, but among ye take heede All be Virgins pure that aproche to deck her, dutie requireth.
When ye shall present ye before her in place, See ye not your selues doo demeane too rudely: Bynd the fillets: and to be fine the waste gyrt fast with a tawdryne.
Bring the Pinckes therewith many Gelliflowres sweete, And the Cullambynes: let vs haue the Wynesops, With the Coronation that among the loue laddes wontes to be worne much.
Daffadowndillies all a long the ground strowe, And the Cowslyppe with a prety paunce let heere lye. Kyngcuppe and Lillies so beloude of all men and the deluce flowre.
There are many faults in these verses; over quaintnesses of language, constructions impossible in English, quantities of doubtful correctness, harsh elisions, for Webbe has tried even elisions. Yet, if I may trust my judgment, all of them can still be read with pleasure; the sapphics may almost be called a success. This is even more true of metres, where these faults are less perceptible or more easily avoided, for instance, Asclepiads. Take the verses on solitariness, Arcadia, B. II. fin.
O sweet woods, the delight [o]f s(o)l(i)t[a]riness! O how much I do like your solitariness! Where man's mind hath a freed consideration Of goodness to receive lovely direction.
or the hendecasyllables immediately preceding,
Reason tell me thy minde, if here be reason, In this strange violence, to make resistance, Where sweet graces erect the stately banner.
It is obvious that a very little more trouble would have converted these into very perfect and very pleasing poems. Had Sir Philip Sidney written every asclepiad on the model of Where man's mind hath a freed consideration, every hendecasyllable like Where sweet graces erect the stately banner, the adjustment of accent and quantity thus attained might, I think, have induced greater poets than he to make the experiment on a larger scale. But neither he nor his contemporaries were permitted to grasp as a principle a regularity which they sometimes secured by chance; nor, so far as I am aware, have the various revivals of ancient metre in this country or Germany in any case consistently carried out the whole theory, without which the reproduction is partial, and cannot look for a more than partial success. Even the four specimens given in the posthumous edition of Clough's poems, two of them elegiac, one alcaic, one in hexameters, though professedly constructed on a quantitative basis, and, in one instance (Trunks the forest yielded, with gums ambrosial oozing, &c.) combining legitimate quantity (in which accent and position are alike observed) with illegitimate (in which position is observed, but accent disregarded) into a not unpleasing rhythm, cannot be considered as more than imperfect realizations of the true positional principle. Tennyson's three specimens are, at least in English, still unique. It is to be hoped that he will not suffer them to remain so. Systems of Glyconics and Asclepiads are, if I mistake not, easily manageable, and are only thought foreign to the genius of our language because they have never been written on strict principles of art by a really great master.
What, then, are the rules on which such rhythms become possible? They are, briefly, these:—(1) accented syllables, as a general rule, are long, though some syllables which count as long need not be accented, as in
All that on earth's leas blooms, what blossoms Thessaly nursing,
blossoms, though only accented on the first syllable, counts for a spondee, the shortness of the second o being partly helped out by the two consonants which follow it; partly by the fact that the syllable is in thesi; (2) the laws of position are to be observed, according to the general rules of classical prosody: (a) dactyls terminating in a consonant like beautiful, bounteous, or ending in a double vowel or a diphthong like all of you, surely may, come to thee, must be followed by a word beginning with a vowel or y or h; dactyls terminating in a vowel or y, like slippery, should be followed, except in rare cases, by words beginning with a consonant; trochees, whether composed of one word or more, should, if ending in a consonant, be followed by a vowel, if ending in the vowel a, by a consonant, thus, planted around not planted beneath, Aurora the sun's not Aurora a sun's (see however, lxiv. 253), but unto a wood, any again, sorry at all, you be amused. (b) Syllables made up of a vowel followed by two or more consonants, each of which is distinctly heard in pronunciation, as long, sins, part, band, waits, souls, ears, must, heart, bright, strength, end, and, rapt, hers, dealt, moment, bosoms, answers, mountains, bearest, tumbling, giving, coming, harbouring, difficult, imminent, stratagems, utterance, happiest, tremblingly, can never rank as short, even if unaccented and followed by a vowel, h or y. Thus, to go back to Longfellow's line,
This is the forest primeval, the murmuring pines and the hemlocks,
for(e)st, murmur(i)ng, pines (a)nd the, are all inadmissible. But where a vowel is followed by two consonants, one of which is unheard or only heard slightly, as in accuse, shall, assemble, dissemble, kindness, compass, affect, appear, annoy, or when the second or third consonant is a liquid, as in betray, beslime, besmear, depress, dethrone, agree, the vowel preceding is so much more short than long as to be regularly admissible as short, rarely admissible as long. On this principle I have allowed dis[o]rd(e)rl(y), t[e]n(a)ntl(e)ss, heav(e)nl(y), to rank as dactyls.
These rules are after all only an outline, and perhaps can never be made more. It will be observed that they are more negative than positive. The reason of this is not far to seek. The main difference between my verses and those of other contemporary writers—the one point on which I claim for myself the merit of novelty—is the strict observance throughout of the rules of position. But the strict observance of position is in effect the strict avoidance of unclassical collocations of syllables: it is almost wholly negative. To illustrate my meaning I will instance the poems written in pure iambics, the Phaselus ille and Quis hoc potest uidere. Heyse translates the first line of the former of these poems by
Die Galeotte, die ihr schauet, liebe Herrn,
and this would be a fair representation of a pure iambic line, according to the views of most German and most English writers. Yet not only is Die no short syllable, but ihr, itself long, is made more hopelessly long by preceding three consonants in schauet, just as the last syllable of schauet, although in itself short, loses its right to stand for a true short in being followed by the first consonant of liebe. My own translation,
The puny pinnace yonder you, my friends, discern,
whatever its defects, is at least a pretty exact representation of a pure iambic line. xxix. 6-8, are thus translated by Heyse:—
Und jener soll in Uebermuthes Ueberfluss Von einem Bett zum andern in die Runde gehn?
by me thus,
Shall he in o'er-assumption, o'er-repletion he, Sedately saunter every dainty couch along?
The difference is purely negative; I have bound myself to avoid certain positions forbidden by the laws of ancient prosody. To some I may seem to have lost in vigour by the process; yet I believe the sense of triumph over the difficulties of our language, the satisfaction of approaching in a novel and perceptibly felt manner one of those excellences which, as much as anything, contributes to the permanent charm of Catullus, his dainty versification, will more than compensate for any shortcomings which the difficulty of the task has made inevitable. The same may be said of the elaborately artificial poem to Camerius (c. lv.), and the almost unapproachable Attis (c. lxiii.). Here, at least half the interest lies in the varied turns of the metre; if these can be represented with anything like faithfulness, the gain in exactness of prosody is enough, in my judgment, to counterbalance the possible loss of freedom in expression.
There is another circumstance which tends to make modern rules of prosody necessarily negative. Quantity, in English revivals of ancient metre, depends not only on position, but on accent. But accent varies greatly in different words; heavy level ever cometh any, have the same accent as empty evil either boometh penny; but the first syllable in the former set of words is lighter than in the latter. Hence, though accented, they may, on occasion, be considered and used as short; as, on the same principle, dolorous stratagem echoeth family, usually dactyls, may, on occasion, become tribrachs. But how lay down any positive rule in matter necessarily so fluctuating? We cannot. All we can do is to refuse admission as short syllables to any heavier accented syllable. Here, then, much must be left to individual discretion. My translation of the Attis will best show my own feeling in the matter. But I am fully aware that in this respect I have fallen far short of consistency. I have made any sometimes short, more often long; to, usually short, is lengthened in lxi. 26, lxvii. 19, lxviii. 143; with is similarly long, though not followed by a consonant, in lxi. 36; given is long in xxviii. 7, short in xi. 17, lxiv. 213; are is short in lxvii. 14; and more generally many syllables allowed to pass for short in the Attis are elsewhere long. Nor have I scrupled to forsake the ancient quantity in proper names; following Heyse, I have made the first syllable of Verona short in xxxv. 3, lxvii. 34, although it retains its proper quantity in lxviii. 27. Again, Pheneos is a dactyl in lxviii. 111, while Satrachus is an anapaest in xcv. 5. In many of these instances I have acted consciously; if the writers of Greece and Rome allowed many syllables to be doubtful, and almost as a principle avoid perfect uniformity in the quantity of proper names, a greater freedom may not unfairly be claimed by their modern imitators. If Catullus could write Phars(a)liam coeunt, Phars(a)lia regna frequentant, similar license may surely be extended to me. I believe, indeed, that nothing in my translation is as violent as the double quantity just mentioned in Catullus; but if there is, I would remind my readers of Goethe's answer to the boy who told him he had been guilty of a hexameter with seven feet, and applying the remark to any seeming irregularities in my own translation would say, Lass die Bestie stehen.
It would not be difficult to swell this Preface by enlarging on the novelty of the attempt, and indirectly panegyrising my own undertaking. I doubt whether any real advantage would thus be gained. If I have merely produced an elaborate failure, however much I might expatiate on the principles which guided me, my work would be an elaborate failure still. I shall therefore say no more, and shall be contented if I please the, even in this classically trained country, too limited number of readers who can really hear with their ears—if, to use the borrowed language of a great poet, I succeed in making myself vocal to the intelligent alone.
[Footnote A: The translation follows this edition (Oxford, 1867), in the constitution of the text, as well as in the sectional division of the poems.]
Who shall take thee, the new, the dainty volume, Purfled glossily, fresh with ashy pumice?
You, Cornelius; you of old did hold them Something worthy, the petty witty nothings,
While you venture, alone of all Italians, 5 Time's vast chronicle in three books to circle, Jove! how arduous, how divinely learned!
Therefore welcome it, yours the little outcast, This slight volume. O yet, supreme awarder, Virgin, save it in ages on for ever. 10
Sparrow, favourite of my own beloved, Whom to play with, or in her arms to fondle, She delighteth, anon with hardy-pointed Finger angrily doth provoke to bite her:
When my lady, a lovely star to long for, 5 Bends her splendour awhile to tricksy frolic; Peradventure a careful heart beguiling, Pardie, heavier ache perhaps to lighten;
Might I, like her, in happy play caressing Thee, my dolorous heart awhile deliver! 10 . . . . . . . . I would joy, as of old the maid rejoiced Racing fleetly, the golden apple eyeing, Late-won loosener of the wary girdle.
Weep each heavenly Venus, all the Cupids, Weep all men that have any grace about ye. Dead the sparrow, in whom my love delighted, The dear sparrow, in whom my love delighted.
Yea, most precious, above her eyes, she held him, 5 Sweet, all honey: a bird that ever hail'd her Lady mistress, as hails the maid a mother.
Nor would move from her arms away: but only Hopping round her, about her, hence or hither, Piped his colloquy, piped to none beside her. 10
Now he wendeth along the mirky pathway, Whence, they tell us, is hopeless all returning.
Evil on ye, the shades of evil Orcus, Shades all beauteous happy things devouring, Such a beauteous happy bird ye took him. 15
Ah! for pity; but ah! for him the sparrow, Our poor sparrow, on whom to think my lady's Eyes do angrily redden all a-weeping.
The puny pinnace yonder you, my friends, discern, Of every ship professes agilest to be. Nor yet a timber o'er the waves alertly flew She might not aim to pass it; oary-wing'd alike To fleet beyond them, or to scud beneath a sail. 5
Nor here presumes denial any stormy coast Of Adriatic or the Cyclad orbed isles, A Rhodos immemorial, or that icy Thrace, Propontis, or the gusty Pontic ocean-arm,
Whereon, a pinnace after, in the days of yore 10 A leafy shaw she budded; oft Cytorus' height With her did inly whisper airy colloquy.
Amastris, you by Pontus, you, the box-clad hill Of high Cytorus, all, the pinnace owns, to both Was ever, is familiar; in the primal years 15 She stood upon your hoary top, a baby tree, Within your haven early dipt a virgin oar:
To carry thence a master o'er the surly seas, A world of angry water, hail'd to left, to right The breeze of invitation, or precisely set 20 The sheets together op'd to catch a kindly Jove.
Nor yet of any power whom the coasts adore Was heard a vow to soothe them, all the weary way From outer ocean unto glassy quiet here.
But all the past is over; indolently now 25 She rusts, a life in autumn, and her age devotes To Castor and with him ador'd, the twin divine.
Living, Lesbia, we should e'en be loving. Sour severity, tongue of eld maligning, All be to us a penny's estimation.
Suns set only to rise again to-morrow. We, when sets in a little hour the brief light, 5 Sleep one infinite age, a night for ever.
Thousand kisses, anon to these an hundred, Thousand kisses again, another hundred, Thousand give me again, another hundred.
Then once heedfully counted all the thousands, 10 We'll uncount them as idly; so we shall not Know, nor traitorous eye shall envy, knowing All those myriad happy many kisses.
But that, Flavius, hardly nice or honest This thy folly, methinks Catullus also E'en had known it, a whisper had betray'd thee.
Some she-malady, some unhealthy wanton, Fires thee verily: thence the shy denial. 5
Least, you keep not a lonely night of anguish; Quite too clamorous is that idly-feigning Couch, with wreaths, with a Syrian odour oozing; Then that pillow alike at either utmost Verge deep-dinted asunder, all the trembling 10 Play, the strenuous unsophistication; All, O prodigal, all alike betray thee.
Why? sides shrunken, a sullen hip disabled, Speak thee giddy, declare a misdemeanour.
So, whatever is yours to tell or ill or 15 Good, confess it. A witty verse awaits thee And thy lady, to place ye both in heaven.
Ask me, Lesbia, what the sum delightful Of thy kisses, enough to charm, to tire me?
Multitudinous as the grains on even Lybian sands aromatic of Cyrene;
'Twixt Jove's oracle in the sandy desert 5 And where royally Battus old reposeth;
Yea a company vast as in the silence Stars which stealthily gaze on happy lovers;
E'en so many the kisses I to kiss thee Count, wild lover, enough to charm, to tire me; 10
These no curious eye can wholly number, Tongue of jealousy ne'er bewitch nor harm them.
Ah poor Catullus, learn to play the fool no more. Lost is the lost, thou know'st it, and the past is past.
Bright once the days and sunny shone the light on thee, Still ever hasting where she led, the maid so fair, By me belov'd as maiden is belov'd no more. 5
Was then enacting all the merry mirth wherein Thyself delighted, and the maid she said not nay. Ah truly bright and sunny shone the days on thee.
Now she resigns thee; child, do thou resign no less, Nor follow her that flies thee, or to bide in woe 10 Consent, but harden all thy heart, resolve, endure.
Farewell, my love. Catullus is resolv'd, endures, He will not ask for pity, will not importune.
But thou'lt be mourning thus to pine unask'd alway. O past retrieval faithless! Ah what hours are thine! 15 When comes a likely wooer? who protests thou'rt fair?
Who brooks to love thee? who decrees to live thine own? Whose kiss delights thee? whose the lips that own thy bite? Yet, yet, Catullus, learn to bear, resolve, endure.
Dear Veranius, you of all my comrades Worth, you only, a many goodly thousands,
Speak they truly that you your hearth revisit, Brothers duteous, homely mother aged?
Yes, believe them. O happy news, Catullus! 5
I shall see him alive, alive shall hear him, Tribes Iberian, uses, haunts, declaring
As his wont is; on him my neck reclining Kiss his flowery face, his eyes delightful.
Now, all men that have any mirth about you, 10 Know ye happier any, any blither?
In the Forum as I was idly roaming Varus took me a merry dame to visit. She a lady, methought upon the moment, Of some quality, not without refinement.
So, arrived, in a trice we fell on endless 5 Themes colloquial; how the fact, the falsehood With Bithynia, what the case about it, Had it helped me to profit or to money.
Then I told her a very truth; no atom There for company, praetor, hungry natives, 10 Home might render a body aught the fatter:
Then our praetor a castaway, could hugely Mulct his company, had a taste to jeer them.
Spoke another, 'Yet anyways, to bear you Men were ready, enough to grace a litter. 15 They grow quantities, if report belies not.' Then supremely myself to flaunt before her,
I 'So thoroughly could not angry fortune Spite, I might not, afflicted in my province, Get erected a lusty eight to bear me. 20
But so scrubby the poor sedan, the batter'd Frame-work, nobody there nor here could ever Lift it, painfully neck to nick adjusting.'
Quoth the lady, belike a lady wanton, 'Just for courtesy, lend me, dear Catullus, 25 Those same nobodies. I the great Sarapis Go to visit awhile.' Said I in answer,
'Thanks; but, lady, for all my easy boasting, 'Twas too summary; there's a friend who knows me, Cinna Gaius, his the sturdy bearers. 30
'Mine or Cinna's, an inch alone divides us, I use Cinna's, as e'en my own possession. But you're really a bore, a very tiresome Dame unmannerly, thus to take me napping.'
Furius and Aurelius, O my comrades, Whether your Catullus attain to farthest Ind, the long shore lash'd by reverberating Surges Eoan; Hyrcan or luxurious horde Arabian, 5 Sacan or grim Parthian arrow-bearer, Fields the rich Nile discolorates, a seven-fold River abounding; Whether o'er high Alps he afoot ascending Track the long records of a mighty Caesar, 10 Rhene, the Gauls' deep river, a lonely Britain Dismal in ocean; This, or aught else haply the gods determine, Absolute, you, with me in all to part not; Bid my love greet, bear her a little errand, 15 Scarcely of honour. Say 'Live on yet, still given o'er to nameless Lords, within one bosom, a many wooers, Clasp'd, as unlov'd each, so in hourly change all Lewdly disabled. 20 'Think not henceforth, thou, to recal Catullus' Love; thy own sin slew it, as on the meadow's Verge declines, ungently beneath the plough-share Stricken, a flower.'
Marrucinian Asinius, hardly civil Left-hand practices o'er the merry wine-cup. Watch occasion, anon remove the napkin. Call this drollery? Trust me, friend, it is not. 'Tis most beastly, a trick among a thousand. 5
Not believe me? believe a friendly brother, Laughing Pollio; he declares a talent Poor indemnification, he the parlous Child of voluble humour and facetious.
So face hendecasyllables, a thousand, 10 Or most speedily send me back the napkin; Gift not prized at a sorry valuation, But for company; 'twas a friend's memento.
Cloth of Saetabis, exquisite, from utmost Iber, sent as a gift to me Fabullus 15 And Veranius. Ought not I to love them As Veranius even, as Fabullus?
Please kind heaven, in happy time, Fabullus, We'll dine merrily, dear my friend, together.
Promise only to bring, your own, a dinner Rich and goodly; withal a lily maiden, Wine, and banter, a world of hearty laughing. 5
Promise only; betimes we dine, my gentle Friend, most merrily; but, for your Catullus— Know he boasts but a pouch of empty cobwebs.
Yet take contrary fee, the quintessential Love, or sweeter if aught is, aught supremer, 10
Perfume savoury, mine; my love received it Gift of every Venus, all the Cupids.
Would you smell it? a god shall hear Fabullus Pray unbody him only nose for ever.
Calvus, save that as eyes thou art beloved, I could verily loathe thee for the morning's Gift, Vatinius hardly more devoutly.
Slain with poetry! done to death with abjects! O what syllable earn'd it, act allow'd it? 5 Gods, your malison on the sorry client Sent that rascally rabble of malignants.
Yet, if, freely to guess, the gift recherche Some grammarian, haply Sulla, sent thee; I repine not; a dear delight, a triumph 10 This, thy drudgery thus to see rewarded.
Gods! an horrible and a deadly volume!
Sent so faithfully, friend, to thy Catullus, Just to kill him upon a day, the festive, Saturnalia, best of all the season. 15 Sure, a drollery not without requital.
For, come dawn, to the cases and the bookshops I; there gather a Caesius and Aquinus, With Suffenus, in every wretch a poison: Such plague-prodigy thy remuneration! 20
Now good-morrow! away with evil omen Whence ill destiny lamely bore ye, clumsy Poet-rabble, an age's execration!
Readers, any that in the future ever Scan my fantasies, haply lay upon me Hands adventurous of solicitation—
Lend thy bounty to me, to my beloved, Kind Aurelius. I do ask a favour
Fair and lawful; if you did e'er in earnest Seek some virginal innocence to cherish, Touch not lewdly the mistress of my passion. 5
Trust the people; avails not aught to fear them, Such, who hourly within the streets repassing, Run, good souls, on a busy quest or idle.
You, you only the free, the felon-hearted, Fright me, prodigal you of every virtue. 10
Well, let luxury run her heady riot, Love flow over; enough abroad to sate thee: This one trespass—a tiny boon—presume not.
But should impious heat or humour headstrong Drive thee wilfully, wretch, to such profaning, 15 In one folly to dare a double outrage:
Ah what misery thine; what angry fortune! Heels drawn tight to the stretch shall open inward Lodgment easy to mullet and to radish.
I'll traduce you, accuse you, and abuse you, Soft Aurelius, e'en as easy Furius. You that lightly a saucy verse resenting, Misconceit me, sophisticate me wanton.
Know, pure chastity rules the godly poet, 5 Rules not poesy, needs not e'er to rule it; Charms some verse with a witty grace delightful? 'Tis voluptuous, impudent, a wanton.
It shall kindle an icy thought to courage, Not boy-fancies alone, but every frozen 10 Flank immovable, all amort to pleasure.
You my kisses, a million happy kisses, Musing, read me a silky thrall to softness? I'll traduce you, accuse you, and abuse you.
Kind Colonia, fain upon bridge more lengthy to gambol, And quite ready to dance amain, fearing only the rotten Legs too crazily steadied on planks of old resurrections, Lest it plunge to the deep morass, there supinely to welter; So surprise thee a sumptuous bridge thy fancy to pleasure, 5 Passive under a Salian god's most lusty procession; This rare favour, a laugh for all time, Colonia, grant me.
In my township a citizen lives: Catullus adjures thee Headlong into the mire below topsy-turvy to drown him. Only, where the superfluent lake, the spongy putrescence, 10 Sinks most murkily flushed, descends most profoundly the bottom.
Such a ninny, a fool is he; witless even as any Two years' urchin, across papa's elbow drowsily swaying.
For though wed to a maiden in spring-tide youthfully budding, Maiden crisp as a petulant kid, as airily wanton, 15 Sweets more privy to guard than e'er grape-bunch shadowy-purpling; He, he leaves her alone to romp idly, cares not a fouter. Nor leans to her at all, the man's part; but helpless as alder Lies, new-fell'd in a ditch, beneath axe Ligurian ham-strung, As alive to the world, as if world nor wife were at issue. 20
Such this gaby, my own, my arch fool; he sees not, he hears not Who himself is, or if the self is, or is not, he knows not.
Him I'd gladly be lowering down thy bridge to the bottom, If from stupor inanimate peradventure he wake him, Leaving muddy behind him his sluggish heart's hesitation, 25 As some mule in a glutinous sludge her rondel of iron.
Sire and prince-patriarch of hungry starvelings, Lean Aurelius, all that are, that have been, That shall ever in after years be famish'd;
Wouldst thou lewdly my dainty love to folly Tempt, and visibly? thou be near, be joking 5 Cling and fondle, a hundred arts redouble?
O presume not: a wily wit defeated Pays in scandalous incapacitation.
Yet didst folly to fulness add, 'twere all one; Now shall beauty to thirst be train'd or hunger's 10 Grim necessity; this is all my sorrow.
Then hold, wanton, upon the verge; to-morrow Comes preposterous incapacitation.
Suffenus, he, dear Varus, whom, methinks, you know, Has sense, a ready tongue to talk, a wit urbane, And writes a world of verses, on my life no less.
Ten times a thousand he, believe me, ten or more, Keeps fairly written; not on any palimpsest, 5 As often, enter'd, paper extra-fine, sheets new, New every roller, red the strings, the parchment-case Lead-rul'd, with even pumice all alike complete.
You read them: our choice spirit, our refin'd rare wit, Suffenus, O no ditcher e'er appeared more rude, 10 No looby coarser; such a shock, a change is there.
How then resolve this puzzle? He the birthday-wit, For so we thought him—keener yet, if aught is so— Becomes a dunce more boorish e'en than hedge-born boor, If e'er he faults on verses; yet in heart is then 15 Most happy, writing verses, happy past compare, So sweet his own self, such a world at home finds he.
Friend, 'tis the common error; all alike are wrong, Not one, but in some trifle you shall eye him true Suffenus; each man bears from heaven the fault they send, 20 None sees within the wallet hung behind, our own.
Needy Furius, house nor hoard possessing, Bug or spider, or any fire to thaw you, Yet most blest in a father and a step-dame, Each for penury fit to tooth a flint-stone: Is not happiness yours? a home united? 5 Son, sire, mother, a lathy dame to match him.
Who can wonder? in all is health, digestion, Pure and vigorous, hours without a trouble. Fires ye fear not, or house's heavy downfal, Deeds unnatural, art in act to poison, 10 Dangers myriad accidents befalling.
Then your bodies? in every limb a shrivell'd Horn, all dryness in all the world whatever, Tann'd or frozen or icy-lean with ages. Sure superlative happiness surrounds thee. 15 Thee sweat frets not, an o'er-saliva frets not, Frets not snivel or oozy rheumy nostril.
Yet such purity lacks not e'en a purer. White those haunches as any cleanly-silver'd Salt, it takes you a month to barely dirt them. 20 Then like beans, or inert as e'er a pebble, Those impeccable heavy loins, a finger's Breadth from apathy ne'er seduced to riot.
Such prosperity, such superb profusion, Slight not, Furius, idly nor reject not. 25 As for sesterces, all the would-be fortune, Cease to wish it; enough, methinks, the present.
O thou blossom of all the race Juventian Not now only, but all as yet arisen, All to flower in after-years arising;
Midas' treasury better you presented Him that owns not a slave nor any coffer, 5 Ere you suffer his alien arm's presuming.
What? you fancy him all refin'd perfection? Perfect! truly, without a slave, a coffer.
Slight, reject it, away with it; for all that He, he owns not a slave nor any coffer. 10
Smooth Thallus, inly softer you than any furry rabbit, Or glossy goose's oily plumes, or velvet earlap yielding, Or feeble age's heavy thighs, or flimsy filthy cobweb;
And Thallus, hungry rascal you, as hurricane rapacious, When winks occasion on the stroke, the gulls agape declaring: 5
Return the mantle home to me, you watch'd your hour to pilfer, The fleecy napkin and the rings from Thynia quaintly graven, Whatever you parade as yours, vain fool, a sham reversion:
Unglue the nails adroit to steal, unclench the spoil, deliver, Lest yet that haunch voluptuous, those tender hands caressant, 10 Should take an ugly print severe, the scourge's heavy branding;
And strange to bruises you should heave, as heaves in open Ocean, Some little hoy surprised adrift, when wails the windy water.
Draughts, dear Furius, if my villa faces, 'Tis not showery south, nor airy wester, North's grim fury, nor east; 'tis only fifteen Thousand sesterces, add two hundred over. Draft unspeakable, icy, pestilential! 5
Boy, young caterer of Falernian olden, Brim me cups of a fiercer harsher essence; So Postumia, queen of healths presiding, Bids, less thirsty the thirsty grape, the toper. But dull water, avaunt. Away the wine-cup's 5 Sullen enemy; seek the sour, the solemn! Here Thyonius hails his own elixir.
Starving company, troop of hungry Piso, Light of luggage, of outfit expeditious, You, Veranius, you, my own Fabullus,
Say, what fortune? enough of empty masters, Frost and famine, a lingering probation? 5
Stands your diary fair? is any profit Enter'd given? as I to serve a praetor Count each beggarly gift a timely profit.
Trust me, Memmius, you did aptly finger My passivity, fool'd me most supinely. 10
Friends, confess it; in e'en as hard a fortune You stand mulcted, on you a like abashless Rake rides heavily. Court the great who wills it!
Gods and goddesses evil heap upon ye, Rogues to Romulus and to Remus outcast. 15
Can any brook to see it, any tamely bear— If any, gamester, epicure, a wanton, he— Mamurra's own whatever all the curly Gauls Did else inherit, or the lonely Briton isle? Can you look on, look idly, filthy Romulus? 5
Shall he, in o'er-assumption, o'er-repletion he, Sedately saunter every dainty couch along, A bright Adonis, as the snowy dove serene? Can you look on, look idly, filthy Romulus? Look idly, gamester, epicure, a wanton, you. 10
Unique commander, and was only this the plea Detain'd you in that islet angle of the west, To gorge the shrunk seducer irreclaimable With haply twice a million, add a million yet? What else was e'er unhealthy prodigality? 15
The waste? to lust a little? on the belly less? Begin; a glutted hoard paternal; ebb the first. To this, the booty Pontic; add the spoil from out Iberia, known to Tagus' amber ory stream. Not only Gaul, nor only quail the Briton isles. 20
What help a rogue to fondle? is not all his act To swallow monies, empty purses heap on heap? But you—to please him only, shame to Rome, to me! Could you the son, the father, idly ruin all?
False Alfenus, in all amity frail, duty a prodigal, Doth thy pity depart? Shall not a friend, traitor, a friend recal
Love? what courage is here me to betray, me to repudiate? . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Never sure did a lie, never a sin, please the celestials.
This you heed not; alas! leave me to new misery, desolate. (5) O where now shall a man trust? liveth yet any fidelity?
You, you only did urge love to be free, life to surrender, you. Guiding into the snare, falsely secure, prophet of happiness. 10
Now you leave me, retract, every deed, every word allow Into nullity winds far to remove, vapoury clouds to bear. (10)
You forget me, but yet surely the Gods, surely remembereth Faith; hereafter again honour awakes, causeth a wretch to rue.
O thou of islands jewel and of half-islands, Fair Sirmio, whatever o'er the lakes' clear rim Or waste of ocean, Neptune holds, a two-fold pow'r; What joy have I to see thee, and to gaze what glee!
Scarce yet believing Thunia past, the fair champaign 5 Bithunian, yet in safety thee to greet once more. From cares to part us—where is any joy like this?
Then drops the soul her fardel, as the travel-tir'd World-weary wand'rer touches home, returns, sinks down In joy to slumber on the bed desir'd so long. 10 This meed, this only counts for e'en an age all toil.
O take a welcome, lovely Sirmio, thy lord's, And greet him happy; greet him all the lake Lydian; Laugh out whatever laughter at the hearth rings clear.
List, I charge thee, my gentle Ipsithilla, Lovely ravisher and my dainty mistress, Say we'll linger a lazy noon together.
Suits my company? lend a farther hearing: See no jealousy make the gate against me, 5 See no fantasy lead thee out a-roaming. Keep close chamber; anon in all profusion Count me kisses again again returning.
Bides thy will? with a sudden haste command me; Full and wistful, at ease reclin'd, a lover 10 Here I languish alone, supinely dreaming.
Master-robber of all that haunt the bath-rooms, Old Vibennius, and his heir the wanton; (His the dirtier hands, the greedy father, Yours the filthier heart, his heir as hungry;)
Please your knaveries hoist a sail for exile, 5 Pains and privacy? since by this the father's Thefts are palpable, and a rusty favour, Son, picks never a penny from the people.
Great Diana protecteth us, Maids and boyhood in innocence. Maidens virtuous, innocent Boys, your song be Diana. Hail, Latonia, thou that art 5 Throned daughter of enthronis'd Jove; near Delian olive of Mighty mother y-boren. Queen of mountainous heights, of all Forests leafy, delightable; 10 Glens in bowery depths remote, Rivers wrathfully sounding. Thee, Lucina, the travailing Mother haileth, a sovereign Juno; Trivia thou, the bright 15 Moon, a glory reflected. Thou thine annual orb anew, Goddess, monthly remeasuring, Farmsteads lowly with affluent Corn dost fill to the flowing. 20 Be thy heavenly name whate'er Name shall please thee, in hallowing; Still keep safely the glorious Race of Romulus olden.
Take Caecilius, him the tender-hearted Bard, my paper, a wish from his Catullus. Come from Larius, haste to leave the new-built Comum's watery city, seek Verona.
Some particular intimate reflexions 5 One would tell thee, a friend we love together.
So he'll quickly devour the way, if only He's no booby; for all a snowy maiden Chide imperious, and her hands around him Both in jealousy clasp'd, refuse departure. 10
She, if only report the truth bely not, Doats, as hardly within her own possession.
For since lately she read his high-preluding Queen of Dindymus, all her heart is ever Melting inly with ardour and with anguish. 15
Maiden, laudable is that high emotion, Muse more rapturous, you, than any Sappho. The Great Mother he surely sings divinely.
Vilest paper of all dishonour, annals Of Volusius, hear my lovely lady's
Vow, and pay it; awhile she swore to Venus And fond Cupid, if ever I returning Ceased from enmity, left to launch iambics, 5
She would surely devote the sorry poet's Choicest rarities unto sooty Vulcan, The lame deity, there to blaze lamenting.
With such drollery, such supreme defiance, Swore strange oath to the gods the naughty wanton. 10
Now, O heavenly child of azure Ocean, Queen of Idaly, queen of Urian highlands,
Who Ancona the fair, the reedy Cnidos Hauntest, Amathus and the lawny Golgi, Or Dyrrhachium, hostel Adriatic; 15
Hear thy votaress, answer her petition; 'Tis most graceful, a dainty thought to charm thee.
But ye verses, away to fire, to burning, Rank rusticities, empty vapid annals Of Volusius, heap of all dishonour. 20
O frowsy tavern, frowsy fellowship therein, Ninth post in order next beyond the twins cap-crown'd,
Shall manly service none but you alone employ, Shall you alone whatever in the world smiles fair, Possess it, every other hold to lack esteem? 5
Or if in idiot impotence arow you sit, One hundred, yes two hundred, am not I, think you, A man to bring mine action on your whole row there?
So think not, he that likes not; answer how you may, With scorpion I, with emblem all your haunt will scrawl. 10
For she the bright one, lately fled beyond these arms, The maid belov'd as maiden is belov'd no more, Whom I to win, stood often in the breach, fought long,
Has sat amongst you. Her the grand, the great, all, all Do dearly love her; yea, beshrew the damned wrong, 15 Each slight seducer, every lounger highway-born,
You chiefly, peerless paragon of the tribe long-lock'd, Rude Celtiberia's child, the bushy rabbit-den,
Egnatius, so modish in the big bush-beard, And teeth a native lotion hardly scours quite pure. 20
Cornificius, ill is your Catullus, Ill, ah heaven, a weary weight of anguish, More more weary with every day, with each hour.
You deny me the least, the very lightest Help, one whisper of happy thought to cheer me. 5
Nay, I'm sorrowful. You to slight my passion? Ah! one word, but a tiny word to cheer me, Sad as ever a tear Simonidean.
Egnatius, spruce owner of superb white teeth, Smiles sweetly, smiles for ever: is the bench in view Where stands a pleader just prepar'd to rouse our tears,
Egnatius smiles sweetly; near the pyre they mourn Where weeps a mother o'er the lost, the kind one son, 5 Egnatius smiles sweetly; what the time or place
Or thing soe'er, smiles sweetly; such a rare complaint Is his, not handsome, scarce to please the town, say I.
So take a warning for the nonce, my friend; town-bred Were you, a Sabine hale, a pearly Tiburtine, 10 A frugal Umbrian body, Tuscan huge of paunch,
A grim Lanuvian black of hue, prodigious-tooth'd, A Transpadane, my country not to pass untax'd, In short whoever cleanly cares to rinse foul teeth,
Yet sweetly smiling ever I would have you not, 15 For silly laughter, it's a silly thing indeed.
Well: you're a Celtiberian; in the parts thereby What pass'd the night in water, every man, come dawn, Scours clean the foul teeth with it and the gums rose-red;
So those Iberian snowy teeth, the more they shine, 20 So much the deeper they proclaim the draught impure.
What fatality, what chimera drives thee Headlong, Ravidus, on to my iambics?
What fell deity, most malign to listen, Fires thy fury to quarrel unavailing?
Wouldst thou busy the breath of half the people? 5 Break with clamour at any cost the silence?
Thou wilt do it; a wretch that hop'd my darling Love to fondle, a sure retaliation.
Ameana, the maiden of the people, Asks me sesterces, all the many thousands.
Maiden she with a nose not wholly faultless, Bankrupt Formian, your declar'd devotion.
Wherefore look to the maiden, her relations: 5 Call her family, summon all the doctors.
Your poor maiden is oddly touch'd; a mirror Sure would lend her a soberer reflexion.
Come all hendecasyllables whatever, Wheresoever ye house you, all whatever.
I the game of an impudent adultress? She refuse to return to me the tablets Where you syllable? O ye can't be silent. 5 Up, have after her, ask renunciation.
Would ye know her? a woman, you shall eye her Strutting loftily, whiles she laughs a loud laugh Vast and vulgar, a Gaulish hound beseeming. Form your circle about her, ask her, urge her. 10
'Hark, adulteress, hand the note-book over. Hark, the note-book, adultress, hand it over.'
What? you scorn us? O ugly filth, detested Trull, whatever is all abomination.
Nay then, louder. Enough as yet it is not. 15 If this only remains, perhaps the dog-like Face may colour, a brassy blush may yield us. Swell your voices in higher harsher yellings,
'Hark, adulteress, hand the note-book over; Hark, the note-book; adultress, hand it over.' 20
Look, she moves not at all: we waste the moments. Change your quality, try another issue. Such composure a sweeter air may alter. 'Pure and virtuous, hand the note-book over.'
Hail, fair virgin, a nose among the larger, Feet not dainty, nor eyes to match a raven, Mouth scarce tenible, hands not wholly faultless, Tongue most surely not absolute refinement, Bankrupt Formian, your declar'd devotion. 5 Thou the beauty, the talk of all the province? Thou my Lesbia tamely think to rival? O preposterous, empty generation!
O thou my Sabine farmstead or my Tiburtine, For who Catullus would not harm, avow, kind souls, Thou surely art at Tibur; and who quarrel will Sabine declare thee, stake the world to prove their say:
But be'st a Sabine, be'st a very Tiburtine, 5 At thy suburban villa what delight I knew To spit the tiresome cough away, my lungs' ill guest, My belly brought me, not without a sad weak sin, Because a costly dinner I desir'd too much.
For I, to feast with Sestius, that host unmatch'd, 10 A speech of his, pure poison, every line deep-drugg'd, His speech against the plaintiff Antius, read through.
Whereat a cold chill, soon a gusty cough in fits, Shook, shook me ever, till to thy retreat I fled, There duly dosed with nettle and repose found cure. 15 So, now recruited, thanks superlative, dear farm, I give thee, who so lightly didst avenge that sin.
And trust me, farm, if ever I again take up With Sextius' black charges, I'll rebel no more; But let the chill things damn to cold, to cough, not me 20 That read the volume—no, but him, the man's vain self.
While Septimius in his arms his Acme Fondled closely, 'My own,' said he, 'my Acme,
If I love not as unto death, nor hold me Ever faithfully well-prepar'd to largest Strain of fiery wooer yet to love thee, 5
Then in Libya, then may I alone in Burning India face a sulky lion.'
Scarce he ended, upon the right did eager Love sneeze amity; 'twas before to leftward.
Acme quietly back her head reclining 10 Towards her boy, with a rosy mouth delightful Kissed his passionate eyes elately swimming,
Then 'Septimius, O my life' she murmur'd, 'So may he that is in this hour ascendant
Rule us ever, as in me burns a greater 15 Fire, a fiercer, in every vein triumphing.'
Scarce she ended, upon the right did eager Love sneeze amity; 'twas before to leftward.
So, that augury joyous each possessing, Loves, is lov'd with an even emulation. 20
Poor Septimius, all to please his Acme, Recks not Syria, recks not any Britain.
In Septimius only faithful Acme Makes her softnesses, holds her happy pleasures.
When did mortal on any so rejoicing 25 Look, on union hallow'd as divinely?
Now soft spring with her early warmth returneth, Now doth Zephyrus, health benignly breathing, Still the boisterous equinoctial heaven.
Leave we Phrygia, leave the plains, Catullus, Leave Nicaea, the sultry soil of harvest: 5 On for Asia, for the starry cities. Now all flurry the soul is out a-ranging, Now with vigour aflame the feet renew them.
Farewell company true, my lovely comrades. You so joyfully borne from home together, 10 Now o'er many a weary way returning.
Porcius, Socration, the greedy Piso's Tools of thievery, rogues to famish ages,
So that filthy Priapus ousts to please you My Veranius even and Fabullus?
What? shall you then at early noon carousing 5 Lap in luxury? they, my jolly comrades, Search the streets on a quest of invitation?
If, Juventius, I the grace win ever Still on beauteous honied eyes to kiss thee, I would kiss them a million, yet a million.
Yea, nor count me to win the full attainment, Not, tho' heavier e'en than ears at harvest, 5 Fall my kisses, a wealthy crop delightful.
Greatest speaker of any born a Roman, Marcus Tullius, all that are, that have been, That shall ever in after-years be famous;
Thanks superlative unto thee Catullus Renders, easily last among the poets. 5
He as easily last among the poets As thou surely the first among the pleaders.
Dear Lucinius, yestereve we linger'd Scrawling fancies, a hundred, in my tablets, Wits in combat; a treaty this between us.
Scribbling drolleries each of us together Launched one arrowy metre and another, 5 Tenders jocular o'er the merry wine-cup.
So quite sorely with all your humour heated Gay Lucinius, I that eve departed.
Food my misery could not any lighten, Sleep nor quiet upon my eyes descended. 10
Still untamable o'er the couch did I then Turn and tumble, in haste to see the day-light, Hear your prattle again, again be with you.
Then, when weary with all the worry, numb'd, dead, Sank my body, upon the bed reposing, 15 This, O humorous heart, did I, a poem Write, my tedious anguish all revealing.
O beware then of hardihood; a lover's Plea for charity, dear my friend, reject not: What if Nemesis haply claim repayment? 20 She is tyrannous. O beware offending.
He to me like unto the Gods appeareth, He, if I dare speak it, ascends above them, Face to face who toward thee attently sitting Gazes or hears thee
Lovely in sweet laughter; alas within me 5 Every lost sense falleth away for anguish; When as I look'd on thee, upon my lips no Whisper abideth, Straight my tongue froze, Lesbia; soon a subtle Fire thro' each limb streameth adown; with inward 10 Sound the full ears tinkle, on either eye night's Canopy darkens. Ease alone, Catullus, alone afflicts thee; Ease alone breeds error of heady riot; Ease hath entomb'd princes of old renown and 15 Cities of honour.
Enough, Catullus! how can you delay to die? If in the curule chair a hump sits, Nonius; A would-be consul lies in hope, Vatinius; Enough, Catullus! how can you delay to die?
How I laughed at a wag amid the circle! He, when Calvus in high denunciation Of Vatinius had declaim'd divinely, Hands uplifted as in supreme amazement, Cried 'God bless us! a wordy cockalorum!' 5
Otho's head is a very dwarf; a rustic's Shanks has Herius, only semi-cleanly; Libo's airs to a fume of art refine them. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Yet thou flee'st not above my keen iambics. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . [So may destiny doom me quite to silence] As I care not if every line offend thee 10 And Sufficius, age in youth's revival. . . . . . . . . Thou shalt kindle at innocent iambics, Mighty general, once again returning.
List, I beg, provided you're in humour, Speak your privacy, show what alley veils you. You I sought on Campus, I, the lesser, You on Circus, in all the bills but you, sir. You with father Jove in holy temple. 5 Then, where flocks the parade to Magnus' arches,
Friend, I hail'd each lady promenader, Each, I found, did face me quite sedately.
What? they steal, I loudly cried protesting, My Camerius? out upon the wenches! 10 Answer'd one and lightly bared a bosom, 'See! what bowery roses; here he hides him.'
Yea 'twould task e'en Hercules to bear you, You so scornful, friend, in your refusing.
Not tho' I were warder of the Cretans, 15 Not tho' Pegasus on his airy pinion,
Perseus feathery-footed, I a Ladas, Rhesus' chariot yok'd to snowy coursers, Add each feathery sandal, every flying Power, ask fleetness of all the winds of heaven, 20 Mine, Camerius, and to me devoted; Yet with drudgery sorely spent should I, yet
Worn, outworn with languor unto languor Faint, O friend, in an empty quest to find you.
Say, where think you anon to be; declare it, 25 (15) Fair and free, submit, commit to daylight. What? still thrall to the lovely lily ladies? Keep close mouth, lock fast the tongue within it, Love's felicity falls without fruition; Venus still is free to talk, a babbler. 30 (20) Yet close palate, an if ye will it; only In my love some part to bear refuse not.
O rare sympathies! happy rakes united! There Mamurra the woman, here a Caesar.
Who can wonder? An ugly brand on either, His, true Formian, his, politely Roman, Rests indelible, in the bone residing. 5
Either infamous, each a twin dishonour, Bookish brethren, a dainty pair pedantic;
One adultrous, as hungry he; with equal Parts in women, a lusty corporation. O rare sympathies! happy rakes united! 10
That bright Lesbia, Caelius, the self-same Peerless Lesbia, she than whom Catullus Self nor family more devoutly cherish'd, By foul roads, or in every shameful alley, Strains the vigorous issue of the people. 5
Poor Rufa from Bononia Rufulus gallants, Menenius' errant lady, she that in grave-yards (You've seen her often) snaps from every pile her meal, When hotly chasing dusty loaves the fire rolls down, She felt some half-shorn corpseman and his hand's big blow. 5
Hadst thou a Libyan lioness on heights all stone, A Scylla, barking wolvish at the loins' last verge, To bear thee, O black-hearted, O to shame forsworn, That unto supplication in my last sad need Thou mightst not harken, deaf to ruth, a beast, no man? 5
God, on verdurous Helicon Dweller, child of Urania, Thou that draw'st to the man the fair Maiden, O Hymenaeus, O Hymen, O Hymenaeus: 5
Wreathe thy brows in amaracus' Fragrant blossom; an aureat Veil be round thee; approach, in all Joy, approach with a luminous Foot, a sandal of amber. 10
Come, for jolly the time, awake. Chant in melody musical Hymns of bridal; on earth a foot Beating, hands to the winds above Torches oozily swinging. 15
Such, as she that on Idaly Venus dwelleth, appear'd before Him, the Phrygian arbiter, So with Mallius happily Happy Junia weddeth. 20
Like some myrtle of Asia Bright in airily blossoming Boughs, the wood Hamadryades Nurse with showery dew, to be Theirs, a tender plaything. 25
So come to us in haste; away, Leave thy Thespian hollow-arch'd Rock, muse-haunted, Aonian, Drench'd in spray from aloft, the cold Drift of Nymph Aganippe. 30
Homeward summon a sovereign Wife most passionate, holden in Love fast prisoner: ivy not Closer closes an elm around, Interchangeably trailing. 35
You too with him, O you for whom Comes as joyous a time, your own. Virgins stainless of heart, arise. Chant in unison, Hymen, O Hymen, O Hymenaeus. 40
That, more readily listening, Whiles your song to familiar Duty calls him, he hie apace, Lord of fair paramours, of youth's Fair affection uniter. 45
Who more worthy than he to list Lovers wearily languishing? Bends from heaven a sovereign God adorabler? Hymen, O Hymen, O Hymenaeus. 50
You the father in years for his Child beseecheth; a virginal Zone falls slackly to earth for you, You half-fear in his hankering Lists the groomsman approaching. 55
You from motherly lap the bright Girl can sever; your hand divine Gives dominion, ushering Warm the lover. O Hymen, O Hymen, O Hymenaeus. 60
Nought delightful, if you be far, Nought unharmed of envious Tongues, Love wins him: if you be near Much he wins him. O excellent God, that hath not a rival. 65
Houses cannot, if you be far, Yield their children, a babe renew Sire or mother: if you be near, Comes renewal. O excellent God, that hath not a rival. 70
If your great ceremonial Fail, no champion yeomanry Guards the border. If you be near Arms the border. O excellent God, that hath not a rival. 75
Fling the portal apart. The bride Waits. O see ye the luminous Torch-flakes ruddily flickering? . . . . . . . . . . . . . 80
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Nought she hears us: her innocent (80) Eyes do weep to be going. 85
Weep not, lady; for envious Tongue no lovelier owneth, Au- Runculeia; nor any more Fair saw rosily bright the dawn (85) Leave his chamber in Ocean. 90
Such in many a flowering Garden, trimm'd for a lord's delight, Stands some delicate hyacinth. Yet you tarry. The day declines. (90) Forth, fair bride, to the people. 95
Forth, fair bride, to the people, if So it likes you, a-listening Words that please us. O eye ye yon Torches ruddily flickering? (95) Forth, fair bride, to the people. 100
Husband never of yours shall haunt Stained wanton, a mutinous Fancy shamefully following, Tire not ever, or e'er from your (100) Dainty bosom unyoke him. 105
He more lithe than a vine amid Trees, that, mazily folded, it Clasps and closes, in amorous Arms shall close thee. The day declines. (105) Forth, fair bride, to the people. 110
Couch of pleasure, O odorous Couch, whose gorgeous apparellings, Silver-purple, on Indian Woods do rest them; adown the bright Feet in ivory glisten; 115
When thy lord in his hour attains, What large extasy, while the night (110) Fleets, or noon the meridian Passes thoro'. The day declines. Forth, fair bride, to the people. 120
Lift the torches aloft in air, Boys: the fiery veil is here. (115) Come, to measure your hymn rehearse. Hymen, O Hymenaeus, O Hymen, O Hymenaeus. 125
Nor withhold ye the countryman's Ribald raillery Fescenine. (120) Nor if happily boys declare Thy dominion attaint, refuse, Youth, the nuts to be flinging. 130
Fling, O womanish youth; the boys Ask thee charity. Time agone (125) Toys and folly; to-day begins Our high duty, Talassius. Hasten, youth, to be flinging. 135
Thou didst surely but yestereve Mock the women, a favourite (130) Far above them: anon the first Beard, the razor. Alack, alas! Hasten, youth, to be flinging. 140
You, whom odorous oils declare Bridegroom, swerve not; a slippery (135) Love calls lightly, but yet refrain. Hymen, O Hymenaeus, O Hymen, O Hymenaeus. 145
Lawful only did e'er delight You, we know; but it is not, O (140) Husband, lawful as heretofore. Hymen, O Hymenaeus, O Hymen, O Hymenaeus. 150
Bride, thou also, if he demand Aught, refuse not, assent, obey. (145) Love can angrily pipe adieu. Hymen, O Hymenaeus, O Hymen, O Hymenaeus. 155
Look! thy mansion, a sovereign Home most goodly, by him to thee (150) Given. Reign as a queen within, Hymen, O Hymenaeus, O Hymen, O Hymenaeus. 160
Still when hoary decrepitude, Shaking wintery brows benign, (155) Nods a tremulous Yes to all. Hymen, O Hymenaeus, O Hymen, O Hymenaeus. 165
With fair augury smite the blest Threshold, sunnily glistening (160) Feet: yon ivory door approach, Hymen, O Hymenaeus, O Hymen, O Hymenaeus. 170
See one seated, a banqueter. 'Tis thy lord on a Tyrian (165) Couch: his spirit is all to thee. Hymen, O Hymenaeus, O Hymen, O Hymenaeus. 175
Not less surely in him than in Thee love lighteth a bosoming (170) Flame; but deeper, a fire within. Hymen, O Hymenaeus, O Hymen, O Hymenaeus. 180
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 185
Thou, whose purple her arm, the slim Arm, props happily, boy, depart. (175) Time the bride be at entering. Hymen, O Hymenaeus, O Hymen, O Hymenaeus. 190
You in chastity tried the long Years, good women of agedest (180) Husbands, lay ye the bride to-night. Hymen, O Hymenaeus, O Hymen, O Hymenaeus. 195
Husband, stay not: a bride within Coucheth ready, the flowering (185) Spring less lovely; a countenance White as parthenice, beyond Yellow poppy to gaze on. 200
Thou, so help me the favouring Gods immortal, as heavenly (190) Fair art also, adorned of Venus' bounty. The day declines. Come nor tarry to greet her. 205
Not too slothfully tarrying, Thou art here. Benediction of (195) Venus help thee, a man without Shame of blameless, a love that is Honest frankly revealing. 210
Dust of infinite Africa, Stars that sparkle, a myriad (200) Host, who measureth, your delights He shall tell them, ineffable, Multitudinous, over. 215
Make your happy delight, renew'd Soon in children. A glorious (205) Name and olden is ill without Children, unto the first a new Stock as goodly begetting. 220
Some Torquatus, a beauteous Babe, on motherly breasts to thee (210) Stretching, father, his innocent Hands, smile softly from inchoate Lips half-open a welcome. 225
Like his father, a Mallius New presented, of every (215) Eyeing stranger allowed his own; Mother's chastity moulded in Features childly revealing. 230
Glory speak of him issuing Child of mother as excellent (220) She, as only that age-renown'd Wife, whose story Telemachus Blazons, Penelopea. 235
Virgins, close ye the door. Enough This our carol. O happiest (225) Lovers, jollity live with you. Still that genial youth to love's Consummation attend ye. 240
Hesper is here; rise youths, rise all of you; high on Olympus Hesper his orb long-look'd for aloft 'gins slowly to kindle. Time is now to arise, from tables costly to part us; Now doth a virgin approach, now soundeth a glad Hymenaeal.
Hymen O Hymenaeus, O Hymen come Hymenaeus. 5
See ye yon youthful band? O, maidens, rise ye to meet them. Comes not Night's bright bearer a fire o'er Oeta revealing? Surely; for even now, in a moment all have arisen, Not for nought have arisen; a song waits, goodly to gaze on.
Hymen O Hymenaeus, O Hymen come Hymenaeus. 10
No light victory this, O comrades, ready before us. Busy the virgins muse, their practis'd ditty recalling, Muse nor shall miscarry; a song for memory waits us. Rightly; for all their souls do inwards labour in issue.
We—our thoughts one way, our ears have drifted another, 15 So comes worthy defeat; no victory calls to the careless. Come then, in even race let thought their melody rival; They must open anon; 'twere better anon be replying.
Hymen O Hymenaeus, O Hymen come Hymenaeus.
Hesper, moveth in heaven a light more tyrannous ever? 20 Thou from a mother's arms canst wrest her daughter asunder, Wrest from a mother's arms her daughter woefully clinging, Then to the burning youth his virgin beauty deliver. Foes in a new-sack'd town, when wrought they crueller ever?
Hymen O Hymenaeus, O Hymen come Hymenaeus. 25
Hesper, shineth in heaven a light more genial ever? Thou with a bridal flame true lovers' unity crownest, All which duly the men, which plighted duly the parents, Then completed alone, when thou in splendour awakest. When shone an happier hour than thy god-speeded arriving? 30
Hymen O Hymenaeus, O Hymen come Hymenaeus.
Sisters, Hesper a fellow of our bright company taketh. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Hymen O Hymenaeus, O Hymen come Hymenaeus.
. . . . . . . . . . . 40 . . . . . . . . . . Hesper, awaiting thee each sentinel holdeth alarum. Night veils love's false thieves; thieves still when, Hesper, another Name, but unalter'd still, thou tak'st them surely, returning. (35) Yet be the maidens pleas'd in woeful fancy to chide thee. 45 Maybe for all they chide, their hearts do inly desire thee.
Hymen O Hymenaeus, O Hymen come Hymenaeus.
Look in a garden-croft when a flower privily growing, Hid from grazing kine, by ploughshare never y-broken, (40) Strok'd by the breeze, by the sun nurs'd sturdily, rear'd by the showers; 50 Many a wistful boy, and maidens many desire it:
Yet if a slender nail hath nipt his bloom to deflour it, Never a wistful boy, nor maidens any desire it:
Such is a girl untoy'd with as yet, yet lovely to kinsmen; (45) Once her body profan'd, herflow'r of chastity blighted, 55 Boys no more she delights, nor seems so lovely to maidens;
Hymen O Hymenaeus, O Hymen come Hymenaeus.
Look as a lone lorn vine in a bare field sorrily growing, Never an arm uplifts, no grape to maturity ripens, (50)
Only with headlong weight her tender body declining, 60 Bows, till topmost spray and roots meet feebly together; Her no peasant swain, nor bullock tendeth her ever;
Yet to the bachelor elm if marriage-fortune unite her, Many a peasant tills and bullocks many about her; (55)
Such is a maid untoy'd with as yet, in loneliness aging; 65 Wins she a bridegroom meet, in time's warm fulness arriving, So to the man more dear, and less unlovely to parents.
O then, clasp thy love, nor fight, fair maiden, against him. Sin 'twere surely to fight; thy father gave to his arms thee, (60) Father's self and mother; obey nor wrongly defy them. 70 . . . . . . . . . .
Virgin's crown thou claim'st not alone, but partly the parents, Father's one whole part, one goes to the mother allotted, Rests one only to thee; O fight not with them alone thou, Both to a son their rights and both their dowry deliver. 75 (65)
Hymen O Hymenaeus, O Hymen come Hymenaeus.
In a swift ship Attis hasting over ocean a mariner When he gained the wood, the Phrygian, with a foot of agility, When he near'd the leafy forest, dark sanctuary divine; By unearthly fury frenzied, a bewildered agony, With a flint of edge he shatter'd to the ground his humanity. 5 Then aghast to see the lost limbs, the deform'd inutility, While still the gory dabble did anew the soil pollute, With a snowy palm the woman took affrayed a taborine. Taborine, the trump that hails thee, Cybele, thy initiant. Then a dainty finger heaving to the tremulous hide o' the bull, 10 He began this invocation to the company, spirit-awed.
"To the groves, ye sexless eunuchs, in assembly to Cybele, Lost sheep that err rebellious to the lady Dindymene; Ye, who all awing for exile in a country of aliens, My unearthly rule obeying to be with me, my retinue, 15 Could aby the surly salt seas' mid inexorability, Could in utter hate to lewdness your sex dishabilitate;
Let a gong clash glad emotion, set a giddy fury to roam, All slow delay be banish'd, thither his ye thither away To the Phrygian home, the wild wood, to the sanctuary divine; 20
Where rings the noisy cymbal, taborines are in echoing, On a curved oat the Phrygian deep pipeth a melody, With a fury toss the Maenads clad in ivies a frolic head, To a barbarous ululation the religious orgy wakes, Where fleets across the silence Cybele's holy family; 25 Thither his we, so beseems us; to a mazy measure away."
Thus as Attis, a woman, Attis, not a woman, urg'd the rest, On a sudden yell'd in huddling agitation every tongue, Taborines give airy murmur, give a clangorous echo gongs, With a rush the brotherhood hastens to the woods, the bosom of Ide. 30 Then in agony, breathless, errant, flush'd wearily, cometh on Taborine behind him, Attis, thoro' leafy glooms a guide, As a restive heifer yields not to the cumbrous onerous yoke. Thither his the votaress eunuchs with an emulous alacrity. Now faintly sickly plodding to the goddess's holy shrine, 35 They took the rest which easeth long toil, nor ate withal. Slow sleep descends on eyelids ready drowsily to decline, In a soft repose departeth the devout spirit-agony. When awoke the sun, the golden, that his eyes heaven-orient Scann'd lustrous air, the rude seas, earth's massy solidity, 40 When he smote the shadowy twilight with his healthy team sublime, Then arous'd was Attis; o'er him sleep hastily fled away To Pasithea's arms immortal with a tremulous hovering. But awaked from his reposing, the delirious anguish o'er, When as Attis' heart recalled him to the past solitarily, 45 Saw clearly where he stood, what, an annihilate apathy, With a soul that heaved within him, to the water he fled again. Then as o'er the waste of ocean with a rainy eye he gazed To the land of home he murmur'd miserable a soliloquy.
"Mother-home of all affection, dear home, my nativity, 50 Whom in anguish I deserting, as in hatred a runaway From a master, hither have hurried to the lonely woods of Ide,
To be with the snows, the wild beasts, in a wintery domicile, To be near each savage houser that a surly fury provokes, What horizon, O beloved, may attain to thee anywhere? 55
Yet an eyeless orb is yearning ineffectually to thee. For a little ere returneth the delirious hour again.
Shall a homeless Attis hie him to the groves uninhabited? Shall he leave a country, wealth, friends? bid a sire, a mother, adieu? The palaestra lost, the forum, the gymnasium, the course? 60
O unhappy, fall a-weeping, thou unhappy soul, for aye.
For is honour of any semblance, any beauty but of it I? Who, a woman here, in order was a man, a youth, a boy, To the sinewy ring a fam'd flower, the gymnasium's applause.
With a throng about the portal, with a populace in the gate, 65 With a flowery coronal hanging upon every column of home, When anew my chamber open'd, as awoke the sunny morn.
O am I to live the god's slave? feodary be to Cybele? Or a Maenad I, an eunuch? or a part of a body slain?
Or am I to range the green tracts upon Ida snowy-chill? 70 Be beneath the stately caverns colonnaded of Asia? Be with hind that haunts the covert, or in hursts that house the boar?
Woe, woe the deed accomplish'd! woe, woe, the shame to me!"
From rosy lips ascending when approached the gusty cry To celestial ears recording such a message inly borne, 75 Cybele, the thong relaxing from a lion-haled yoke, Said, aleft the goad addressing to the foe that awes the flocks—
"Come, a service; haste, my brave one; let a fury the madman arm, Let a fury, a frenzy prick him to return to the wood again, This is he my hest declineth, the unheedy, the runaway. 80
From an angry tail refuse not to abide the sinewy stroke, To a roar let all the regions echo answer everywhere, On a nervy neck be tossing that uneasy tawny mane."
So in ire she spake, adjusting disunitedly then her yoke At his own rebuke the lion doth his heart to a fury spur, 85 With a step, a roar, a bursting unarrested of any brake. But anear the foamy places when he came, to the frothy beach, When he saw the sexless Attis by the seas' level opaline, Then he rushed upon him; affrighted to the wintery wood he flew, Cybele's for aye, for all years, in her order a votaress. 90 Holy deity, great Cybele, holy lady Dindymene, Be to me afar for ever that inordinate agony. O another hound to madness, O another hurry to rage!
Born on Pelion height, so legend hoary relateth, Pines once floated adrift on Neptune billowy streaming On to the Phasis flood, to the borders AEaetean. Then did a chosen array, rare bloom of valorous Argos, Fain from Colchian earth her fleece of glory to ravish, 5 Dare with a keel of swiftness adown salt seas to be fleeting, Swept with fir-blades oary the fair level azure of Ocean. Then that deity bright, who keeps in cities her high ward, Made to delight them a car, to the light breeze airily scudding, Texture of upright pine with a keel's curved rondure uniting. 10 That first sailer of all burst ever on Amphitrite.
Scarcely the forward snout tore up that wintery water, Scarcely the wave foamed white to the reckless harrow of oarsmen, Straight from amid white eddies arose wild faces of Ocean, Nereid, earnest-eyed, in wonderous admiration. 15 Then, not after again, saw ever mortal unharmed Sea-born Nymphs unveil limbs flushing naked about them. Stark to the nursing breasts from foam and billow arising. Then, so stories avow, burn'd Peleus hotly to Thetis, Then to a mortal lover abode not Thetis unheeding, 20 Then did a father agree Peleus with Thetis unite him.
O in an aureat hour, O born in bounteous ages, God-sprung heroes, hail: hail, mother of all benediction, You my song shall address, you melodies everlasting. Thee most chiefly, supreme in glory of heavenly bridal, 25 Peleus, stately defence of Thessaly. Iuppiter even Gave thee his own fair love, thy mortal pleasure approving. Thee could Thetis inarm, most beauteous Ocean-daughter? Tethys adopt thee, her own dear grandchild's wooer usurping? Ocean, who earth's vast globe with a watery girdle inorbeth? 30
When the delectable hour those days did fully determine, Straightway then in crowds all Thessaly flock'd to the palace, Thronging hosts uncounted, a company joyous approaching. Many a gift they carry, delight their faces illumines. Left is Scyros afar, and Phthia's bowery Tempe, 35 Vacant Crannon's homes, unvisited high Larisa, Towards Pharsalia's halls, Pharsalia's only they hie them.
Bides no tiller afield; necks soften of oxen in idlesse; Feel not a prong'd crook'd hoe lush vines all weedily trailing; Tears no steer deep clods with a downward coulter unearthed; 40 Prunes no hedger's bill broad-verging verdurous arbours; Steals a deforming rust on ploughs left rankly to moulder.
But that sovran abode, each sumptuous inly retiring Chamber, aflame with gold, with silver is all resplendent; Thrones gleam ivory-white; cup-crown'd blaze brightly the tables; 45 All the domain with treasure of empery gaudily flushes.
There, set deeply within the remotest centre, a bridal Bed doth a goddess inarm; smooth ivory glossy from Indies, Robed in roseate hues, rich seashells' purple adorning.
It was a broidery freak'd with tissue of images olden, 50 One whose curious art did blazon valour of heroes. Gazing forth from a beach of Dia the billow-resounding, Look'd on a vanish'd fleet, on Theseus quickly departing, Restless in unquell'd passion, a feverous heart, Ariadne. Scarcely her eyes yet seem their seeming clearly to vision. 55 You might guess that arous'd from slumber's drowsy betrayal, Sand-engirded, alone, then first she knew desolation. He the betrayer—his oars with fugitive hurry the waters Beat, each promise of old to the winds given idly to bear them.
Him from amid shore-weeds doth Minos' daughter, in anguish 60 Rigid, a Bacchant-form, dim-gazing stonily follow, Stonily still, wave-tost on a sea of troublous affliction. Holds not her yellow locks the tiara's feathery tissue; Veils not her hidden breast light brede of drapery woven; Binds not a cincture smooth her bosom's orbed emotion. 65 Widely from each fair limb that footward-fallen apparel Drifts its lady before, in billowy salt loose-playing.
Not for silky tiara nor amice gustily floating Recks she at all any more; thee, Theseus, ever her earnest Heart, all clinging thought, all chained fancy requireth. 70 Ah unfortunate! whom with miseries ever crazing, Thorns in her heart deep planted, affray'd Erycina to madness, From that earlier hour, when fierce for victory Theseus Started alert from a beach deep-inleted of Piraeus, Gain'd Gortyna's abode, injurious halls of oppression. 75
Once, 'tis sung in stories, a dire distemper atoning Death of an ill-blest prince, Androgeos, angrily slaughter'd, Taxed of her youthful array, her maidenly bloom fresh-glowing, Feast to the monster bull, Cecropia, ransom-laden. Then, when a plague so deadly, the garrison undermining, 80 Spent that slender city, his Athens dearly to rescue, Sooner life Theseus and precious body did offer, Ere his country to Crete freight corpses, a life in seeming. So with a ship fast-fleeted, a gale blown gently behind him, Push'd he his onward journey to Minos' haughty dominion. 85
Him for very delight when a virgin fondly desiring Gazed on, a royal virgin, in odours silkily nestled, Pure from a maiden's couch, from a mother's pillowy bosom, Like some myrtle, anear Eurotas' water arising, Like earth's myriad hues, spring's progeny, rais'd to the breezes; 90 Droop'd not her eyes their gaze unquenchable, ever-burning Save when in each charm'd limb to the depths enfolded, a sudden Flame blazed hotly within her, in all her marrow abiding.
O thou cruel of heart, thou madding worker of anguish, Boy immortal, of whom joy springs with misery blending, 95 Yea, thou queen of Golgi, of Idaly leaf-embower'd, O'er what a fire love-lit, what billows wearily tossing, Drave ye the maid, for a guest so sunnily lock'd deep sighing. What most dismal alarms her swooning fancy did echo! Oft what a sallower hue than gold's cold glitter upon her! 100 Whiles, heart-hungry in arms that monster deadly to combat, Theseus drew towards death or victory, guerdon of honour. Yet not lost the devotion, or offer'd idly the virgin's Gifts, as her unvoic'd lips breathed incense faintly to heaven.
As on Taurus aloft some oak agitatedly waving 105 Tosses his arms, or a pine cone-mantled, oozily rinded, When as his huge gnarled trunk in furious eddies a whirlwind Riving wresteth amain; down falleth he, upward hoven, Falleth on earth; far, near, all crackles brittle around him, So to the ground Theseus his fallen foeman abasing, 110 Slew, that his horned front toss'd vainly, a sport to the breezes. Thence in safety, a victor, in height of glory returned, Guiding errant feet to a thread's impalpable order. Lest, upon egress bent thro' tortuous aisles labyrinthine, Walls of blindness, a maze unravell'd ever, elude him. 115
Yet, for again I come to the former story, beseems not Linger on all done there; how left that daughter a gazing Father, a sister's arms, her mother woefully clinging, Mother, who o'er that child moan'd desperate, all heart-broken; How not in home that maid, in Theseus only delighted; 120 How her ship on a shore of foaming Dia did harbour; How, when her eyes lay bound in slumber's shadowy prison, He forsook, forgot her, a wooer traitorous-hearted:
Oft, say stories, at heart with frenzied fantasy burning, Pour'd she, a deep-wrung breast, clear-ringing cries of oppression; 125 Sometimes mournfully clomb to the mountain's rugged ascension, Straining thence her vision across wide surges of ocean; Now to the brine ran forth, upsplashing freshly to meet her, Lifting raiment fine her thighs which softly did open; Last, when sorrow had end, these words thus spake she lamenting, 130 While from a mouth tear-stain'd chill sobs gushed dolorous ever.
'Look, is it here, false heart, that rapt from country, from altar, Household altar ashore, I wander, falsely deserted? Ah! is it hence, Theseus, that against high heaven a traitor Homeward thou thy vileness, alas thy perjury bearest? 135
Might not a thought, one thought, thy cruel counsel abating Sway thee tender? at heart rose no compassion or any Mercy, to bend thy soul, or me for pity deliver?
Yet not this thy promise of old, thy dearly remembered Voice, not these the delights thou bad'st thy poor one inherit; 140 Nay, but wedlock happy, but envied joy hymeneal; All now melted in air, with a light wind emptily fleeting.
Let not a woman trust, since that first treason, a lover's Desperate oath, none hope true lover's promise is earnest. They, while fondly to win their amorous humour essayeth, 145 Fear no covetous oath, all false free promises heed not; They if once lewd pleasure attain unruly possession, Lo they fear not promise, of oath or perjury reck not.
Yet indeed, yet I, when floods of death were around thee, Set thee on high, did rather a brother choose to defend not, 150 Ere I, in hate's last hour, false heart, fail'd thee to deliver.
Now, for a goodly reward, to the beasts they give me, the flying Fowls; no handful of earth shall bury me, pass'd to the shadows.
What grim lioness yeaned thee, aneath what rock's desolation? What wild sea did bear, what billows foamy regorged thee? 155 Seething sand, or Scylla the snare, or lonely Charybdis? If for a life's dear joy comes back such only requital?
Hadst not a will with spousal an honour'd wife to receive me? Awed thee a father stern, cross age's churlish avising? Yet to your household thou, your kindred palaces olden, 160 Might'st have led me, to wait, joy-filled, a retainer upon thee, Now in waters clear thy feet like ivory laving, Clothing now thy bed with crimson's gorgeous apparel.
Yet to the brutish winds why moan I longer unheeded, Crazy with an ill wrong? They senseless, voiceless, inhuman 165 Utter'd cry they hear not, in answers hollow reply not. He rides far already, the mid sea's boundary cleaving, Strays no mortal along these weeds stretched lonely about me. Thus to my utmost need chance, spitefuller injury dealing, Grudges an ear, where yet might lamentation have entry. 170
Jove, almighty, supreme, O would that never in early Time on Gnossian earth great Cecrops' navies had harbour'd, Ne'er to that unquell'd bull with a ransom of horror atoning, Moor'd on Crete his cable a shipman's wily dishonour. Never in youth's fair shape such ruthless stratagem hiding 175 He, that vile one, a guest found with us a safe habitation.
Whither flee then afar? what hope, poor lost one, upholds thee? Mountains Idomenean? alas, broad surges of ocean Part us, a rough rude space of flowing water, asunder. Trust in a father's help? how trust, whom darkly deserting, 180 Him I turned to alone, my brother's bloody defier? Nay, but a loyal lover, a hand pledg'd surely, shall ease me. Surely; for o'er wide water his oars move flexibly fleeting.
Also a desert lies this region, a tenantless island, Nowhere open way, seas splash in circle around me, 185 Nowhere flight, no glimmer of hope; all mournfully silent, Loneliness all, all points me to death, death only remaining.
Yet these luminous orbs shall sink not feebly to darkness, Yet from grief-worn limbs shall feeling wholly depart not, Till to the gods I cry, the betrayed, for justice on evil, 190 Sue for life's last mercy the great federation of heaven.
Then, O sworn to requite man's evil wrathfully, Powers Gracious, on whose grim brows, with viper tresses inorbed, Looks red-breathing forth your bosom's feverous anger;
Now, yea now come surely, to these loud miseries harken, 195 All I cry, the afflicted, of inmost marrow arising, Desolate, hot with pain, with blinding fury bewilder'd.
Yet, for of heart they spring, grief's children truly begotten, Verily, Gods, these moans you will not idly to perish. But with counsel of evil as he forsook me deceiving, 200 Death to his house, to his heart, bring also counsel of evil.
When from an anguish'd heart these words stream'd sorrowful upwards, Words which on iron deeds did sue for deadly requital, Bow'd with a nod of assent almighty the ruler of heaven. With that dreadful motion aneath earth's hollow, the ruffled 205 Ocean shook, and stormy the stars 'gan tremble in ether. Thereto his heart thick-sown with blindness cloudily dark'ning, Thought not of all those words, Theseus, from memory fallen, Words which his heedful soul had kept immovable ever. Nor to his eager sire fair token of happy returning 210 Rais'd, when his eyes safe-sighted Erectheus' populous haven. Once, so stories tell, when Pallas' city behind him Leaving, Theseus' fleet to the winds given hopefully parted, Clasping then his son spake Aegeus, straitly commanding.
Son, mine only delight, than life more lovely to gaze on, 215 Son, whom needs it faints me to launch full-tided on hazards, Whom my winter of years hath laid so lately before me:
Since my fate unkindly, thy own fierce valour unheeding, Needs must wrest thee away, ere yet these dimly-lit eye-balls Feed to the full on thee, thy worshipt body beholding; 220
Neither in exultation of heart I send thee a-warring; Nor to the fight shalt bear fair fortune's happier earnest; Rather, first in cries mine heart shall lighten her anguish, When greylocks I sully with earth, with sprinkle of ashes;
Next to the swaying mast shall a sail hang duskily swinging; 225 So this grief, mine own, this burning sorrow within me, Want not a sign, dark shrouds of Iberia, sombre as iron.
Then, if haply the queen, lone ranger on haunted Itonus, Pleas'd to defend our people, Erectheus' safe habitations, Frown not, allow thine hand that bull all redly to slaughter, 230
Look that warily then deep-laid in steady remembrance, These our words grow greenly, nor age move on to deface them;
Soon as on home's fair hills thine eyes shall signal a welcome, See that on each straight yard down droop their funeral housings, Whitely the tight-strung cordage a sparkling canvas aloft swing, 235
Which to behold straightway with joy shall cheer me, with inward Joy, when a prosperous hour shall bring to thee happy returning.
So for a while that charge did Theseus faithfully cherish. Last, it melted away, as a cloud which riven in ether Breaks to the blast, high peak and spire snow-silvery leaving. 240 But from a rock's wall'd eyrie the father wistfully gazing, Father whose eyes, care-dimm'd, wore hourly for ever a-weeping, Scarcely the wind-puff'd sail from afar 'gan darken upon him, Down the precipitous heights headlong his body he hurried, Deeming Theseus surely by hateful destiny taken. 245 So to a dim death-palace, alert from victory, Theseus Came, what bitter sorrow to Minos' daughter his evil Perjury gave, himself with an even sorrow atoning. She, as his onward keel still moved, still mournfully follow'd; Passion-stricken, her heart a tumultuous image of ocean. 250
Also upon that couch, flush'd youthfully, breathless Iacchus Roam'd with a Satyr-band, with Nisa-begot Sileni; Seeking thee, Ariadna, aflame thy beauty to ravish. Wildly behind they rushed and wildly before to the folly, Euhoe rav'd, Euhoe with fanatic heads gyrated; 255 Some in womanish hands shook rods cone-wreathed above them, Some from a mangled steer toss'd flesh yet gorily streaming; Some girt round them in orbs, snakes gordian, intertwining; Some with caskets deep did blazon mystical emblems, Emblems muffled darkly, nor heard of spirit unholy. 260 Part with a slender palm taborines beat merrily jangling; Now with a cymbal slim would a sharp shrill tinkle awaken; Often a trumpeter horn blew murmurous, hoarsely resounding. Rose on pipes barbaric a jarring music of horror.
Such, wrought rarely, the shapes this quilt did richly apparel, 265 Where to the couch close-clasped it hung thick veils of adorning. So to the full heart-sated of all their curious eying, Thessaly's youth gave place to the Gods high-throned in heaven. As, when dawn is awake, light Zephyrus even-breathing Brushes a sleeping sea, which slant-wise curved in edges 270 Breaks, while mounts Aurora the sun's high journey to welcome; They, first smitten faintly by his most airy caressing, Move slow on, light surges a plashing silvery laughter; Soon with a waxing wind they crowd them apace, thick-fleeting, Swim in a rose-red glow and far off sparkle in Ocean; 275 So thro' column'd porch and chambers sumptuous hieing, Thither or hither away, that company stream'd, home-wending.
First from Pelion height, when they were duly departed, Chiron came, in his hand green gifts of flowery forest. All that on earth's leas blooms, what blossoms Thessaly nursing 280 Breeds on mountainous heights, what near each showery river Swells to the warm west-wind, in gales of foison alighting; These did his own hands bear in girlonds twined of all hues, That to the perfume sweet for joy laugh'd gaily the palace. Follow'd straight Penios, awhile his bowery Tempe, 285 Tempe, shrined around in shadowy woods o'erhanging, Left to the bare-limb'd maids Magnesian, airily ranging. No scant carrier he; tall root-torn beeches his heavy Burden, bays stemm'd stately, in heights exalted ascending. Thereto the nodding plane, and that lithe sister of youthful 290 Phaethon flame-enwrapt, and cypress in air upspringing: These in breadths inwoven he heap'd close-twin'd to the palace, Whereto the porch wox green, with soft leaves canopied over.
Him did follow anear, deep heart and wily, Prometheus, Scarr'd and wearing yet dim traces of early dishonour, 295 All which of old his body to flint fast-welded in iron, Bore and dearly abied, on slippery crags suspended. Last with his awful spouse, with children goodly, the sovran Father approach'd; thou, Phoebus, alone, his warder in heaven, Left, with that dear sister, on Idrus ranger eternal. 300 Peleus sister alike and brother in high misprision Held, nor lifted a torch when Thetis wedded at even. So when on ivory thrones they rested, snowily gleaming, Many a feast high-pil'd did load each table about them; Whiles to a tremor of age their gray infirmity rocking, 305 Busy began that chant which speaketh surely the Parcae.
Round them a folding robe their weak limbs aguish hiding, Fell bright-white to the feet, with a purple border of issue. Wreaths sat on each hoar crown, whose snows flush'd rosy beneath them; Still each hand fulfilled its pious labour eternal. 310 Singly the left upbore in wool soft-hooded a distaff, Whereto the right large threads down drawing deftly, with upturn'd Fingers shap'd them anew; then thumbs earth-pointed in even Balance twisted a spindle on orb'd wheels smoothly rotating. So clear'd softly between and tooth-nipt even it ever 315 Onward moved; still clung on wan lips, sodden as ashes, Shreds all woolly from out that soft smooth surface arisen. Lastly before their feet lay fells, white, fleecy, refulgent, Warily guarded they in baskets woven of osier. They, as on each light tuft their voice smote louder approaching, 320 Pour'd grave inspiration, a prophet chant to the future, Chant which an after-time shall tax of vanity never.
O in valorous acts thy wondrous glory renewing, Rich Aemathia's arm, great sire of a goodlier issue, Hark on a joyous day what prophet-story the sisters 325 Open surely to thee; and you, what followeth after, Guide to a long-drawn thread and run with destiny, spindles.
Soon shall approach, and bear the delight long-wish'd for of husbands, Hesper, a bride shall approach in starlight happy presented, Softly to sway thy soul in love's completion abiding, 330 Soon in a trance with thee of slumber dreamy to mingle, Making smooth round arms thy clasp'd throat sinewy pillow. Trail ye a long-drawn thread and run with destiny, spindles.
Never hath house closed yet o'er loves so blissful uniting, Never love so well his children in harmony knitten, 335 So as Thetis agrees, as Peleus bendeth according. Trail ye a long-drawn thread and run with destiny, spindles.
You shall a son see born that knows not terror, Achilles, One whose back no foe, whose front each knoweth in onset; Often a conqueror, he, where feet course swiftly together, 340 Steps of a fire-fleet doe shall leave in his hurry behind him. Trail ye a long-drawn thread and run with destiny, spindles.
Him to resist in war, no champion hero ariseth, Then on Phrygian earth when carnage Trojan is utter'd; Then when a long sad strife shall Troy's crown'd city beleaguer, 345 Waste her a third false heir from Pelops wary descending. Trail ye a long-drawn thread and run with destiny, spindles.
His unmatchable acts, his deeds of glorious honour, Oft shall mothers speak o'er sons untimely departed; While from crowns earth-bow'd fall loosen'd silvery tresses, 350 Beat on shrivell'd breasts weak palms their dusky defacing. Trail ye a long-drawn thread and run with destiny, spindles.
As some labourer ears close-cluster'd lustily lopping, Under a flaming sun, mows fields ripe-yellow in harvest, So, in fury of heart, shall death's stern reaper, Achilles, Charge Troy's children afield and fell them grimly with iron. 355 Trail ye a long-drawn thread and run with destiny, spindles.
Deeds of such high glory Scamander's river avoucheth, Hurried in eddies afar thro' boisterous Hellespontus; Then when a slaughter'd heap his pathway watery choking, Brimmeth a warm red tide and blood with water allieth. 360 Trail ye a long-drawn thread and run with destiny, spindles.
Voucher of him last riseth a prey untimely devoted E'en to the tomb, which mounded in heaps, high, spherical, earthen, Grants to the snow-white limbs, to the stricken maiden a welcome. Trail ye a long-drawn thread and run with destiny, spindles. 365
Scarcely the war-worn Greeks shall win such favour of heaven, Neptune's bonds of stone from Dardan city to loosen, Dankly that high-heav'd grave shall gory Polyxena crimson. She as a lamb falls smitten a twin-edg'd falchion under, Boweth on earth weak knees, her limbs down flingeth unheeding. 370 Trail ye a long-drawn thread and run with destiny, spindles.
Up then, fair paramours, in fond love happily mingle. Now in blessed treaty the bridegroom welcome a goddess; Now give a bride long-veil'd to her husband's passionate yearning. Trail ye a long-drawn thread and run with destiny, spindles. 375
Her when duly the nurse with day-light early revisits, Necklace of yester-night—she shall not clasp it about her. Trail ye a long-drawn thread and run with destiny, spindles.
Nor shall a mother fond, o'er brawls unlovely dishearten'd, Lay her alone, or cease the delight of children awaiting. 380 Trail ye a long-drawn thread and run with destiny, spindles.
In such prelude old, such good-night ditty to Peleus, Sang their deep divination, ineffable, holy, the Parcae. Such as in ages past, upon houses godly descending, Houses of heroes came, in mortal company present, 385 Gods high-throned in heaven, while yet was worship in honour.
Often a sovran Jove, in his own bright temple appearing, Yearly, whene'er his day did rites ceremonial usher, Gazed on an hundred slain, on strong bulls heavily falling. Often on high Parnassus a roving Liber in hurried 390 Frenzy the Thyiads drave, their locks blown loosely, before him. While all Delphi's city in eager jealousy trooping, Blithely receiv'd their god on fuming festival altars. Mavors often amidst encounter mortal of armies, Streaming Triton's queen, or maid Ramnusian awful, 395 Stood in body before them, a fainting host to deliver.
Only when heinous sin earth's wholesome purity blasted, When from covetous hearts fled justice sadly retreating, Then did a brother his hands dye deep in blood of a brother, Lightly the son forgat his parents' piteous ashes. 400 Lightly the son's young grave his father pray'd for, an unwed Maiden, a step-dame fair in freer luxury clasping. Then did mother unholy to son that knew not abase her, Shamefully, fear'd not unholy the blessed dead to dishonour. Human, inhuman alike, in wayward infamy blending, 405 Turned far from us away that righteous counsel of heaven. Therefore proudly the Gods such sinful company view not, Bear not day-light clear upon immortality breathing.