You’ll find young Paullus passing fair,
Modest, refined, and tony;
Go, now, incite the favored wight!
With Venus for a crony
He’ll outshine all at feast and ball
Then shall that godlike nose of thine
With perfumes be requited,
And then shall prance in Salian dance
The girls and boys delighted,
And while the lute blends with the flute
Shall tender loves be plighted.
But as for me, as you can see,
I’m getting old and spiteful.
I have no mind to female kind,
That once I deemed delightful;
No more brim up the festive cup
That sent me home at night full.
Why do I falter in my speech,
O cruel Ligurine?
Why do I chase from place to place
In weather wet and shiny?
Why down my nose forever flows
The tear that’s cold and briny?
Tell me, Lydia, tell me why,
By the gods that dwell above,
Sybaris makes haste to die
Through your cruel, fatal love.
Now he hates the sunny plain;
Once he loved its dust and heat.
Now no more he leads the train
Of his peers on coursers fleet.
Now he dreads the Tiber’s touch,
And avoids the wrestling-rings,—
He who formerly was such
An expert with quoits and things.
Come, now, Mistress Lydia, say
Why your Sybaris lies hid,
Why he shuns the martial play,
As we’re told Achilles did.
A sorry life, forsooth, these wretched girls are undergoing,
Restrained from draughts of pleasant wine, from loving favors showing,
For fear an uncle’s tongue a reprimand will be bestowing!
Sweet Cytherea’s winged boy deprives you of
And Hebrus, Neobule, his sad havoc is beginning,
Just as Minerva thriftily gets ready for an inning.
Who could resist this gallant youth, as Tiber’s
waves he breasted,
Or when the palm of riding from Bellerophon he wrested,
Or when with fists and feet the sluggers easily he bested?
He shot the fleeing stags with regularity surprising;
The way he intercepted boars was quite beyond surmising,—
No wonder that your thoughts this youth has been monopolizing!
So I repeat that with these maids fate is unkindly
Who never can in love’s affair give license to their feeling,
Or share those sweet emotions when a gentle jag is stealing.
What gods or heroes, whose brave deeds none can dispute,
Will you record, O Clio, on the harp and flute?
What lofty names shall sportive Echo grant a place
On Pindus’ crown or Helicon’s cool, shadowy space?
Sing not, my Orpheus, sweeping oft the tuneful strings,
Of gliding streams and nimble winds and such poor things;
But lend your measures to a theme of noble thought,
And crown with laurel these great heroes, as you ought.