Saturday, 17 May 2014

Love’s madness (Book I.1:1-38) - Sextus Propertius

Cynthia was the first, to my cost, to trap me with her eyes:
I was untouched by love before then.
Amor it was who lowered my gaze of endless disdain,
and, feet planted, bowed my head,
till he taught me, recklessly,
to scorn pure girls and live without sense,
and this madness has not left me for one whole year now,
though I do attract divine hostility.

Milanion, did not shirk hard labour,
Tullus, my friend, in crushing fierce Atalanta, Iasus’s daughter.
Then he lingered lovesick in Parthenium’s caves,
and faced wild beasts there:
thrashed, what is more, by the club of Hylaeus, the Centaur,
he moaned, wounded, among Arcadia’s stones.
So he was able to overcome the swift-footed girl:
such is the value of entreaty and effort in love.
Dulled Amor, in me, has lost his wits,
and forgets the familiar paths he once travelled.

But you whose trickeries draw down the moon,
whose task it is to seek revenge, through sacrifice on magic fires,
go change my mistress’s mind, and make her cheeks grow paler than my own!
Then I’ll believe you’ve power to lead rivers and stars
wherever you wish, with Colchian charms.

Or you, my friends who, too late, would draw me back from error,
search out the cure for a sick heart.
I will suffer the heat and the knife bravely,
if only freedom might speak as indignation wishes.
Lift me through furthest nations and seas,
where never a woman can follow my track.
You, to whom gods grant an easy hearing,
who live forever secure in mutual love,
you stay behind.

Venus, our mistress, turns nights of bitterness against me,
and Amor never fails to be found wanting.
Avoid this evil I beg you:
let each cling to his own love,
and never alter the site of familiar desire.
But if any hears my warning too late,
O with what agony he will remember my words!

Sextus Propertius (c45 - c15 BC) Italy (Ancient Rome)
Translated by A.S. Kline

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