Fuscus, whoso to good inclines,
And is a faultless liver,
Nor Moorish spear nor bow need fear,
Nor poison-arrowed quiver.
Ay, though through desert wastes he roam,
Or scale the rugged mountains,
Or rest beside the murmuring tide
Of weird Hydaspan fountains!
Lo, on a time, I gayly paced
The Sabine confines shady,
And sung in glee of Lalage,
My own and dearest lady;
And as I sung, a monster wolf
Slunk through the thicket from me;
But for that song, as I strolled along,
He would have overcome me!
Set me amid those poison mists
Which no fair gale dispelleth,
Or in the plains where silence reigns,
And no thing human dwelleth,—
Still shall I love my Lalage,
Still sing her tender graces;
And while I sing, my theme shall bring
Heaven to those desert places!
Not to lament that rival flame
Wherewith the heartless Glycera scorns you,
Nor waste your time in maudlin rhyme,
How many a modern instance warns you!
Fair-browed Lycoris pines away
Because her Cyrus loves another;
The ruthless churl informs the girl
He loves her only as a brother!
For he, in turn, courts Pholoe,—
A maid unscotched of love’s fierce virus;
Why, goats will mate with wolves they hate
Ere Pholoe will mate with Cyrus!
Ah, weak and hapless human hearts,
By cruel Mother Venus fated
To spend this life in hopeless strife,
Because incongruously mated!
Such torture, Albius, is my lot;
For, though a better mistress wooed me,
My Myrtale has captured me,
And with her cruelties subdued me!
Grieve not, my Albius, if thoughts of Glycera may
Nor chant your mournful elegies because she faithless proves;
If now a younger man than you this cruel charmer loves,
Let not the kindly favors of the past rise up to taunt you.
Lycoris of the little brow for Cyrus feels a passion,
And Cyrus, on the other hand, toward Pholoe inclines;
But ere this crafty Cyrus can accomplish his designs
She-goats will wed Apulian wolves in deference to fashion.
Such is the will, the cruel will, of love-inciting
Who takes delight in wanton sport and ill-considered jokes,
And brings ridiculous misfits beneath her brazen yokes,—
A very infelicitous proceeding, just between us.
As for myself, young Myrtale, slave-born and lacking
And wilder than the Adrian tides which form Calabrian bays,
Entangled me in pleasing chains and compromising ways,
When—just my luck—a better girl was courting my embraces.