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p. 56



BEHOLD me at Sulmo, in the land of the Peligni. It is a little spot, but bright and clean with its streams of sparkling water. Though the scorching sun may crack the earth, though the Dog Star shine his fiercest, limpid streamlets wind their way across the fields of the Peligni and there the grass is always green. The land with corn is rich, and with the vine is richer still. The olive, too, flourishes in profusion on this light, loose soil. The rivulets meandering among the meadows clothe the moist earth with shadowy verdure.

But there my love is not. Or stay--my love is there, but not the object of my love. Nay, if betwixt Castor and Pollux you should set me, I would not dwell in heaven itself without you.

Let death be bitter and let the earth lie heavy upon them, who first drave their roads into the far-off regions of the earth. At least they should have bidden their mistresses go with them, if indeed they were compelled to furrow the world with their interminable tracks. So, even if I, benumbed with cold, had had to cross the windswept Alps, that journey, painful though it be, would have been sweet to me, if only my love had borne me company. With my mistress at my side, the Libyan quicksands I would boldly cross, and spread my canvas to the treacherous southern gales; with her beside me, I'd not fear the monsters that yelp at Scylla's side, nor yet thy narrow straits, O tortuous Malea, no, nor the waters which the unwearying Charybdis, sated with sunken wrecks, spews forth and swallows up again.

But if the might of the winds prevail, if the billows bear away the gods who would fain come to our assistance, fling thou thy snowy arms about my neck and freely the sweet burden will I sustain. Many a time and oft, to

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behold his Hero, Leander swam the straits; nor would he have perished, had not the darkness blotted out the distance from his sight.

Here, of my darling one bereft, though I gaze upon rich vineyards, on fields watered with limpid streams, though I behold the river, at the husbandman's behest, unravelling itself in many channels, and see the leaves of the trees lightly stirred by cooling breezes, I seem not to be dwelling in the fair land of the Pelignians; nor in the familiar home of my ancestors, the place which saw my birth. Nay, I seem to be in the heart of Scythia, or among the grim Cilicians, or the Britons who paint themselves with green, or the rocks red with the blood of Prometheus.

The elm loves the vine, the vine clings to the elm; why, then, am I so often sundered from my mistress? And yet thou shouldst never leave me, for thou wast wont to swear, both by myself and by your eyes, my stars, that thou wouldst never quit my side. Lighter than autumn leaves, the empty promises of woman are whirled away and scattered on the bosom of the winds and the waters.

Howbeit, if thou hast any pity for me in my lonely state, begin to make thy words bear fruit in deeds. Quick, up with you into your little chaise, and with your own hands shake the reins about your horses' flying manes. And you, ye swelling hills, abase yourselves before her as she comes; ye paths in the winding vales, be smooth beneath her feet.


Pars me Sulmo tenet Paeligni tertia ruris--
    parva, sed inriguis ora salubris aquis.
sol licet admoto tellurem sidere findat,
    et micet Icarii stella proterva canis,
arva pererrantur Paeligna liquentibus undis,
    et viret in tenero fertilis herba solo.
terra ferax Cereris multoque feracior uvis;
    dat quoque baciferam Pallada rarus ager;
perque resurgentes rivis labentibus herbas
    gramineus madidam caespes obumbrat humum.
At meus ignis abest. verbo peccavimus uno!--
    quae movet ardores est procul; ardor adest.
non ego, si medius Polluce et Castore ponar,
    in caeli sine te parte fuisse velim.
solliciti iaceant terraque premantur iniqua,
    in longas orbem qui secuere vias!--
aut iuvenum comites iussissent ire puellas,
    si fuit in longas terra secanda vias!
tum mihi, si premerem ventosas horridus Alpes,
    dummodo cum domina, molle fuisset iter.
cum domina Libycas ausim perrumpere Syrtes
    et dare non aequis vela ferenda Notis.
non quae virgineo portenta sub inguine latrant,
    nec timeam vestros, curva Malea, sinus;
non quae submersis ratibus saturata Charybdis
    fundit et effusas ore receptat aquas.
Quod si Neptuni ventosa potentia vincat,
    et subventuros auferat unda deos,
tu nostris niveos umeris inpone lacertos;
    corpore nos facili dulce feremus onus.
saepe petens Hero iuvenis transnaverat undas;
    tum quoque transnasset, sed via caeca fuit.
At sine te, quamvis operosi vitibus agri
    me teneant, quamvis amnibus arva natent,
et vocet in rivos currentem rusticus undam,
    frigidaque arboreas mulceat aura comas,
non ego Paelignos videor celebrare salubres,
    non ego natalem, rura paterna, locum--
sed Scythiam Cilicasque feros viridesque Britannos,
    quaeque Prometheo saxa cruore rubent.
Ulmus amat vitem, vitis non deserit ulmum;
    separor a domina cur ego saepe mea?
at mihi te comitem iuraras usque futuram--
    per me perque oculos, sidera nostra, tuos!
verba puellarum, foliis leviora caducis,
    inrita, qua visum est, ventus et unda ferunt.
Siqua mei tamen est in te pia cura relicti,
    incipe pollicitis addere facta tuis,
parvaque quamprimum rapientibus esseda mannis
    ipsa per admissas concute lora iubas!
at vos, qua veniet, tumidi, subsidite, montes,
    et faciles curvis vallibus este, viae!

Next: Elegy XVII: He Complains To Corinna That She Is Too Conceited About Her Good Looks.