By Domitius Marsus.
He who sublime in epic numbers roll'd,
And he who struck the softer lyre of love,
By Death's unequal hand alike controll'd,*
Fit comrades in Elysian regions move!
* The hand of death is said to be unjust or unequal, as Virgil was considerably older than Tibullus at his decease.
IMITATION OF TIBULLUS.
"Sulpicia ad Cerinthum." -- /Lib./ 4.
Cruel Cerinthus! does the fell disease
Which racks my breast your fickle bosom please?
Alas! I wish'd but to o'ercome the pain,
That I might live for love and you again:
But now I scarcely shall bewail my fate;
By death alone I can avoid your hate.
TRANSLATION FROM CATULLUS.
Ye Cupids, droop each little head,
Nor let your wings with joy be spread,
My Lesbia's favourite bird is dead,
Whom dearer than her eyes she loved:
For he was gentle, and so true,
Obedient to her call he flew,
No fear, no wild alarm he knew,
But lightly o'er her bosom moved:
And softly fluttering here and there,
He never sought to cleave the air,
But chirrup'd oft, and, free from care,
Tuned to her ear his grateful strain.
Now having pass'd the gloomy bourne
From whence he never can return,
His death and Lesbia's grief I mourn,
Who sighs, alas! but signs in vain.
Oh! curst be thou, devouring grave!
Whose jaws eternal victims crave,
From whom no earthly power can save,
For thou hast ta'en the bird away:
From thee my Lesbia's eyes o'erflow,
Her swollen cheeks with weeping glow;
Thou art the cause of all her woe,
Receptacle of life's decay.
IMITATED FROM CATULLUS.
Oh! might I kiss those eyes of fire,
A million scarce would quench desire:
Still would I steep my lips in bliss,
And dwell an age on every kiss:
Nor then my soul should sated be;
Still would I kiss and cling to thee:
Nor should my kiss from thine dissever;
Still would we kiss, and kiss forever:
E'en though the numbers did exceed
The yellow harvest's countless seed.
To part would be a vain endeavour:
Could I desist? -- ah! never -- never!
TRANSLATION FROM HORACE.
The man of firm and noble soul
No factious clamours can control;
No threat'ning tyrant's darkling brow
Can swerve him from his just intent:
Gales the warring waves which plough,
By Auster on the billows spent,
To curb the Adriatic main,
Would awe his fix'd determined mind in vain,
Ay, and the red right arm of Jove,
Hurtling his lightnings from above,
With all his terrors there unfurl'd,
He would unmoved, unawed behold.
The flames of an expiring world,
Again in crushing chaos roll'd,
In vast promiscuous ruin hurl'd,
Might light his glorious funeral pile:
Still dauntless 'midst the wreck of earth he'd smile.
I wish to tune my quivering lyre
To deeds of fame and notes of fire;
To echo, from its rising swell,
How heroes fought and nations fell,
When Atreus' sons advanced to war,
Or Tyrian Cadmus roved afar;
But still, to martial strains unknown,
My lyre recurs to love alone:
Fired with the hope of future fame,
I seek some nobler hero's name:
The dying chords are strung anew,
To war, to war, my harp is due:
With glowing strings, the epic strain
To Jove's great son I raise again;
Alcides and his glorious deeds,
Beneath whose arm the Hydra bleeds.
All, all in vain; my wayward lyre
Wakes silver notes of soft desire.
Adieu, ye chiefs renown'd in arms!
Adieu the clang of war's alarms!
To other deeds my soul is strung,
And sweeter notes shall now be sung.
My harp shall all its powers reveal,
To tell the tale my heart must feel:
Love, Love alone, my lyre shall claim,
In songs of bliss and sighs of flame.
'Twas now the hour when Night had driven
Her car half round yon sable heaven;
Boötes, only, seem'd to roll
His arctic charge around the pole:
While mortals, lost in gentle sleep,
Forgot to smile, or ceased to weep:
At this lone hour, the Paphian boy,
Descending from the realms of joy,
Quick to my gate directs his course,
And knocks with all his little force.
My visions fled, alarm'd I rose --
"What stranger breaks my blest repose?"
"Alas!" replies the wily child,
In faltering accents sweetly mild,
"A hapless infant here I roam,
Far from my dear maternal home.
Oh! shield me from the wintry blast!
The nightly storm is pouring fast.
No prowling robber lingers here.
A wandering baby who can fear?"
I heard his seeming artless tale,
I heard his sighs upon the gale:
My breast was never pity's foe,
But felt for all the baby's woe.
I drew the bar, and by the light,
Young Love, the infant, met my sight;
His bow across his shoulders flung,
And thence his fatal quiver hung
(Ah! little did I think the dart
Would rankle soon within my heart).
With care I tend my weary guest,
His little fingers chill my breast;
His glossy curls, his azure wing,
Which droop with nightly showers, I wring;
His shivering limbs the embers warm;
And now reviving from the storm,
Scarce had he felt his wonted glow,
Than swift he seized his slender bow: --
"I fain would know, my gentle host,"
He cried, "if this its strength has lost;
I fear, relax'd with midnight dews,
The strings their former aid refuse."
With poison tipt, his arrow flies,
Deep in my tortured heart it lies;
Then loud the joyous urchin laugh'd: --
"My bow can still impel the shaft:
'Tis firmly fix'd, thy sighs reveal it;
Say, courteous host, canst thou not feel it?"
FROM THE PROMETHEUS VINCTUS OF ÆSCHYLUS.
Great Jove, to whose almighty throne
Both gods and mortals homage pay,
Ne'er may my soul thy powers disown,
Thy dread behests ne'er disobey.
Oft shall the sacred victim fall
In sea-girt Ocean's mossy hall;
My voice shall raise no impious strain,
'Gainst him who rules the sky and azure main.
How different now thy joyless fate,
Since first Hesione thy bride,
When placed aloft in godlike state,
The blushing beauty by thy side,
Thou sat'st, while reverend Ocean smiled,
And mirthful strains the hours beguiled,
The Nymphs and Tritons danced around,
Nor yet thy doom was fix'd, nor Jove relentless frown'd.
Harrow, /Dec./ 1, 1804
Since now the hour is come at last,
When you must quit your anxious lover;
Since now our dream of bliss is past,
One pang, my girl, and all is over.
Alas! that pang will be severe,
Which bids us part to meet no more;
Which tears me far from one so dear,
Departing from a distant shore.
Well! we have pass'd some happy hours,
And joy will mingle with our tears;
When thinking on these ancient towers,
The shelter of our infant years;
Where from this Gothic casement's height,
We view'd the lake, the park, the dell;
And still, though tears obstruct our sight,
We lingering look a last farewell,
O'er fields through which we used to run,
And spend the hours in childish play;
O'er shades where, when our race was done,
Reposing on my breast you lay;
Whilst I, admiring, too remiss,
Forgot to scare the hovering flies,
Yet envied every fly the kiss
It dared to give your slumbering eyes!
See still the little painted bark,
In which I row'd you o'er the lake;
See there, high waving o'er the park,
The elm I clamber'd for your sake.
These times are past -- our joys are gone,
You leave me, leave this happy vale;
These scenes I must retrace alone:
Without thee, what will they avail?
Who can conceive, who has not proved,
The anguish of a last embrace,
When, torn from all you fondly loved,
You bid a long adieu to peace?
This is the deepest of our woes,
For this these tears our cheeks bedew;
This is of love the final close,
O God! the fondest, last adieu!
TO M. S. G.
Whene'er I view those lips of thine,
Their hue invites my fervent kiss;
Yet I forgo that bliss divine,
Alas! it were unhallow'd bliss.
Whene'er I dream of that pure breast,
How could I dwell upon its snows!
Yet is the daring wish represt;
For that -- would banish its repose.
A glance from thy soul-searching eye
Can raise with hope, depress with fear,
Yet I conceal my love -- and why?
I would not force a painful tear.
I ne'er have told my love, yet thou
Hast seen my ardent flame too well,
And shall I plead my passion now,
To make thy bosom's heaven a hell?
No! for thou never canst be mine,
United by the priest's decree:
By any ties but those divine,
Mine, my beloved, thou ne'er shalt be.
Then let the secret fire consume,
Let it consume, thou shalt not know:
With joy I court a certain doom,
Rather than spread its guilty glow.
I will not ease my tortured heart,
By driving dove-eyed peace from thine;
Rather than such a sting impart,
Each thought presumptuous I resign.
Yes! yield those lips, for which I'd brave
More than I here shall dare to tell;
Thy innocence and mine to save --
I bid thee now a last farewell.
Yes! yield that breast, to seek despair,
And hope no more a fond embrace;
Which to obtain my soul would dare
All, all reproach -- but thy disgrace.
At least from guilt thou shalt be free,
No matron shall thy shame reprove;
Though cureless pangs may prey on me,
No martyr shalt thou be to love.
Think'st thou I saw thy beauteous eyes,
Suffused in tears, implore to stay,
And heard unmoved thy plenteous sighs,
Which said far more than words can say?
Though keen the grief thy tears exprest,
When love and hope lay both o'erthrown;
Yet still, my girl, this bleeding breast
Throbb'd with deep sorrow as thine own.
But when our cheeks with anguish glow'd,
When thy sweet lips were join'd to mine,
The tears that from my eyelids flow'd
Were lost in those which fell from thine.
Thou couldst not feel my burning cheeck,
Thy gushing tears had quench'd its flame;
And as thy tongue essay'd to speak,
In sighs alone it breathed my name.
And yet, my girl, we weep in vain,
In vain our fate in sighs deplore;
Remembrance only can remain --
But that will make us weep the more.
Again, thou best beloved, adieu!
Ah! if thou canst, o'ercome regret;
Nor let thy mind past joys review --
Our only hope is to forget!
When I hear you express an affection so warm,
Ne'er think, my beloved, that I do not believe;
For your lip would the soul of suspicion disarm,
And your eye beams a ray which can never deceive.
Yet, still, this fond bosom regrets, while adoring,
That love, like the leaf, must fall into the sear;
That age will come on, when remembrance, deploring,
Contemplates the scenes of her youth with a tear;
That the time must arrive, when, no longer retaining
Their auburn, those locks must wave thin to the breeze,
When a few silver hairs of those tresses remaining,
Prove nature a prey to decay and disease.
'Tis this, my beloved, which spreads gloom o'er my features,
Though I ne'er shall presume to arraign the decree,
Which God has proclaim'd as the fate of His creatures,
In the death which one day will deprive you of me.
Mistake not, sweet sceptic, the cause of emotion,
No doubt can the mind of your lover invade;
He worships each look with such faithful devotion,
A smile can enchant, or a tear can dissuade.
But as death, my beloved, soon or late shall o'ertake us,
And our breasts, which alive with such sympathy glow,
Will sleep in the grave till the blast shall awake us,
When calling the dead, in earth's bosom laid low, --
Oh! then let us drain, while we may, draughts of pleasure,
Which from passion like ours may unceasingly flow:
Let us pass round the cup of love's bliss in full measure,
And quaff the contents of our nectar below.
Oh! when shall the grave hide for ever my sorrows?
Oh! when shall my soul wing her flight from this clay?
The present is hell, and the coming to-morrow
But brings, with new torture, the curse of to-day.
From my eye flows no tear, from my lips flow no curses,
I blast not the fiends who have hurl'd me from bliss,
For poor is the soul which bewailing rehearses
Its querulous grief, when in anguish like this.
Was my eye, 'stead of tears, with red fury flakes bright'ning,
Would my lips breathe a flame which no stream could assuage,
On our foes should my glance launch in vengeance its lightning
With transport my tongue give a loose to its rage.
But now tears and curses, alike unavailing,
Would add to the souls of our tyrants delight:
Could they view us our sad separation bewailing,
Their merciless hearts would rejoice at the sight.
Yet still, though we bend with a feign'd resignation,
Life beams not for us with one ray that can cheer,
Love and hope upon earth bring no more consolation;
In the grave is our hope, for in life is our fear.
Oh! when, my adored, in the tomb will they place me,
Since, in life, love and friendship for ever are fled?
If again in the mansion of death I embrace thee,
Perhaps they will leave unmolested the dead.
STANZAS TO A LADY.
With the poems of Camoens.
This votive pledge of fond esteem,
Perhaps, dear girl! for me thou'lt prize;
It sings of Love's enchanting dream,
A theme we never can despise.
Who blames it but the envious fool,
The old and disappointed maid;
Or pupil of the prudish school,
In single sorrow doom'd to fade?
Then read, dear girl! with feeling read,
For thou wilt ne'er be one of those;
To thee in vain I shall not plead
In pity for the poet's woes.
He was in sooth a genius bard:
His was no vain, fictitious flame:
Like his, may love be thy reward,
But not thy hapless fate the same.
THE FIRST KISS OF LOVE.
(Greek)] -- Anacreon.
Away with your fictions of flimsy romance;
Those tissues of falsehood which folly has wove!
Give me the mild beam of the soul-breathing glance,
Or the rapture which dwells on the first kiss of love.
Ye rhymers, whose bosoms with fantasy glow,
Whose pastoral passions are made for the grove;
From what blest inspirations your sonnets would flow,
Could you ever have tasted the first kiss of love!
If Apollo should e'er his assistance refuse,
Or the Nine be disposed from your service to rove,
Invoke them no more, bid adieu to the muse,
And try the effect of the first kiss of love!
I hate you, ye cold compositions of art!
Though prudes may condemn me, and bigots reprove,
I court the effusions that spring from the heart,
Which throbs with delight to the first kiss of love.
Your shepherds, your flocks, those fantastical themes,
Perhaps may amuse, yet they never can move:
Arcadia displays but a region of dreams:
What are visions like these to the first kiss of love?
Oh! cease to affirm that man, since his birth,
From Adam till now, has with wretchedness strove.
Some portion of paradise still is on earth,
And Eden revives in the first kiss of love.
When age chills the blood, when our pleasures are past --
For years fleet away with the wings of the dove --
The dearest remembrance will still be the last,
Our sweetest memorial the first kiss of love.
ON A CHANGE OF MASTERS AT A GREAT PUBLIC SCHOOL.
Where are those honours, Ida! once your own,
When Probus fill'd your magisterial throne?
As ancient Rome, fast falling to disgrace,
Hail'd a barbarian in her Caesar's place,
So you, degenerate, share as hard a fate,
And seat Pomposus where your Probus sate.
Of narrow brain, yet of a narrower soul,
Pomposus holds you in his harsh control;
Pomposus, by no social virtues sway'd,
With florid jargon, and with vain parade;
With noisy nonsense, and new-fangled rules,
Such as were ne'er before enforced in schools.
Mistaking pedantry for learning's laws,
He governs, sanction'd but by self-applause;
With him the same dire fate attending Rome,
Ill-fated Ida! soon must stamp your doom:
Like her o'erthrown, for ever lost to fame,
No trace of science left you, but the name.
Poetry: Lord Byron - Hours of idleness - Part 2 - Links to more Byron
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