Come, Phyllis, I’ve a cask of wine
That fairly reeks with precious juices,
And in your tresses you shall twine
The loveliest flowers this vale produces.
My cottage wears a gracious smile;
The altar, decked in floral glory,
Yearns for the lamb which bleats the while
As though it pined for honors gory.
Hither our neighbors nimbly fare,
The boys agog, the maidens snickering;
And savory smells possess the air,
As skyward kitchen flames are flickering.
You ask what means this grand display,
This festive throng and goodly diet?
Well, since you’re bound to have your way,
I don’t mind telling, on the quiet.
’T is April 13, as you know,
A day and month devote to Venus,
Whereon was born, some years ago,
My very worthy friend, Maecenas.
Nay, pay no heed to Telephus;
Your friends agree he doesn’t love you.
The way he flirts convinces us
He really is not worthy of you.
Aurora’s son, unhappy lad!
You know the fate that overtook him?
And Pegasus a rider had,—
I say he had, before he shook him!
Hoc docet (as you must agree)
’T is meet that Phyllis should discover
A wisdom in preferring me,
And mittening every other lover.
So come, O Phyllis, last and best
Of loves with which this heart’s been smitten,
Come, sing my jealous fears to rest,
And let your songs be those I’ve written.
Sweet Phyllis, I have here a jar of old and precious
The years which mark its coming from the Alban hills are nine,
And in the garden parsley, too, for wreathing garlands fair,
And ivy in profusion to bind up your shining hair.
Now smiles the house with silver; the altar, laurel-bound,
Longs with the sacrificial blood of lambs to drip around;
The company is hurrying, boys and maidens with the rest;
The flames are flickering as they whirl the dark smoke on their crest.
Yet you must know the joys to which you have been
To keep the Ides of April, to the sea-born Venus dear,—
Ah, festal day more sacred than my own fair day of birth,
Since from its dawn my loved Maecenas counts his years of earth.
A rich and wanton girl has caught, as suited to her
The Telephus whom you desire,—a youth not of your kind.
She holds him bound with pleasing chains, the fetters of her charms,—
Remember how scorched Phaethon ambitious hopes alarms.
The winged Pegasus the rash Bellerophon has chafed,
To you a grave example for reflection has vouchsafed,—
Always to follow what is meet, and never try to catch
That which is not allowed to you, an inappropriate match.