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p. 55



O LITTLE ring that art going to encircle my fair mistress's finger, thou that no value hast save the giver's love that goes with thee, be charming in her sight. May she with delight receive thee and straightway slip thee on her finger. May thou fit her, as well as she fits me; and may thy circle, nor over-tight nor yet too loose, softly gird her finger.

Happy ring, thou wilt be touched by her I love. Ah me, already I begin to envy my own gift's happy lot. Would that the enchantress of the Ææan Isle or the Old Man of Carpathos would change me to a ring. Then, lady, I should wish that you should touch thy breasts and slip thy left hand underneath thy tunic. Off from your finger I should glide, however tight and clinging. As by some wizard's art, would I grow loose and slip into your bosom. Aye, and when she would seal her secret missives, so that the wax should not cling to the dry stone, I first should touch my fair mistress's moist lips, so only that I might never seal a word that would to myself bring grief. If she were fain to lay me in the casket, I'd refuse to leave her finger. I'd small and smaller grow so as to clip her the more closely. Never, my love, my life, may I give thee cause to blush for me, or grow too heavy for thy dainty finger. Wear me e'en when you take your bath, nor fear the water will unloose the gem. And yet, methinks, if naked I beheld thee, I should be consumed with desire, and that ring would like a man acquit itself.

Ah me! Why do I long for things that cannot be? Go forth, little gift, upon thy way, and may my mistress see in thee the symbol of my changeless love.


Anule, formosae digitum vincture puellae,
    in quo censendum nil nisi dantis amor,
munus eas gratum! te laeta mente receptum
    protinus articulis induat illa suis;
tam bene convenias, quam mecum convenit illi,
    et digitum iusto commodus orbe teras!
Felix, a domina tractaberis, anule, nostra;
    invideo donis iam miser ipse meis.
o utinam fieri subito mea munera possem
    artibus Aeaeae Carpathiive senis!
tunc ego, cum cupiam dominae tetigisse papillas
    et laevam tunicis inseruisse manum,
elabar digito quamvis angustus et haerens,
    inque sinum mira laxus ab arte cadam.
idem ego, ut arcanas possim signare tabellas,
    neve tenax ceram siccaque gemma trahat,
umida formosae tangam prius ora puellae--
    tantum ne signem scripta dolenda mihi.
si dabor ut condar loculis, exire negabo,
    adstringens digitos orbe minore tuos.
non ego dedecori tibi sum, mea vita, futurus,
    quodve tener digitus ferre recuset, onus.
me gere, cum calidis perfundes imbribus artus,
    damnaque sub gemmam fer pereuntis aquae--
sed, puto, te nuda mea membra libidine surgent,
    et peragam partes anulus ille viri.
Inrita quid voveo? parvum proficiscere munus;
    illa datam tecum sentiat esse fidem!

Next: Elegy XVI: To Corinna, Beseeching Her To Visit Him In His Country Home At Sulmo.