To him said Aphrodite:
“So, worst of beasts, ’twas you
Who rent that thigh asunder,
Who him that loved me slew?”
And thus the beast made answer:
“Cythera, hear me swear
By thee, by him that loved thee,
And by these bonds I wear,
And them before whose hounds I ran—
I meant no mischief to the man
Who seemed to thee so fair.
“As on a carven statue
Men gaze, I gazed on him;
I seemed on fire with mad desire
To kiss that offered limb:
My ruin, Aphrodite,
Thus followed from my whim.
“Now therefore take
And fairly cut away
These all unruly tusks of mine;
For to what end serve they?
And if thine indignation
Be not content with this,
Cut off the mouth that ventured
To offer him a kiss”—
But Aphrodite pitied
And bade them loose his chain.
The boar from that day forward
Still followed in her train;
Nor ever to the wildwood
Attempted to return,
But in the focus of Desire
Preferred to burn and burn.
Ah for this the most accursed,
unendurable of ills!
Nigh two months a fevered fancy for a maid my bosom fills.
Fair she is, as other damsels: but for what the simplest swain
Claims from the demurest maiden, I must sue and sue in vain.
Yet doth now this thing of evil my longsuffering heart beguile,
Though the utmost she vouchsafes me is the shadow of a smile:
And I soon shall know no respite, have no solace e’en in sleep.
Yesterday I watched her pass me, and from down-dropt eyelids peep
At the face she dared not gaze on—every moment blushing more—
And my love took hold upon me as it never took before.
Home I went a wounded creature, with a gnawing at my heart;
And unto the soul within me did my bitterness impart.
deal with me in this wise? Shall thy folly know
Canst thou look upon these temples, with their locks of silver crowned,
And still deem thee young and shapely? Nay, my soul, let us be sage;
Act as they that have already sipped the wisdom-cup of age.
Men have loved and have forgotten. Happiest of all is he
To the lover’s woes a stranger, from the lover’s fetters free:
Lightly his existence passes, as a wild-deer fleeting fast:
Tamed, it may be, he shall voyage in a maiden’s wake at last:
Still to-day ’tis his to revel with his mates in boyhood’s flowers.
As to thee, thy brain and marrow passion evermore devours,
Prey to memories that haunt thee e’en in visions of the night;
And a year shall scarcely pluck thee from thy miserable plight.”