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HAPLESS porter, laden with unmerited fetters, push me back this cruel door upon its hinges. ’Tis little enough I ask of thee. No, do but open it a little, just enough for me to pass in sideways. I have long been a lover and it has so reduced my body and my limbs that such a thing were easy. ’Tis Love that tells me how to creep in softly in the midst of the guards. ’Tis he that guides me and safeguards my steps.

Time was when I dreaded the night and its empty shadows. I marvelled how anyone could fare forth in the darkness. But Cupid laughed in my face with his

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gentle mother, and whispered in my ear, "Thou too shalt grow a mettlesome fellow." Love's hour has come; I fear not the mazy shadows of the night, nor weapons uplifted against me. I only fear the slowness of thy movements; thee alone do I cajole; in thy hands thou hold'st the weapon that can undo me. See--and that thou may be the more surely convinced, take down awhile these cruel bars--see how this door is moistened with my tears. This is I, thou knowest it well enough, who seeing that thwackings were about to rain down on thy naked shoulders, interceded for thee with thy mistress. How now! Shall my supplications, which erstwhile proved so powerful in thy behalf, to-day--oh shame!--prove powerless in my own? Come, pay back what thou owest; now mayest thou show thy gratitude to the top of thy bent. The night is passing--slide back the bolts. Open the door, and so may thou be freed for ever from thy long chain and from thy water-drinking serfdom.

Vain are my prayers, O man implacable; harder than iron is thy heart. Thou hearest me and yet thy door of oak is barred against me. That a beleaguered town should need unyielding gates, ’tis well; but in the heyday of peace, what fear hast thou of arms? How wouldst thou treat a foe, if thou repel a lover thus? The night speeds on; slide back the bolts.

I come not as a warrior attended by henchmen. I should be alone, were not cruel Love beside me. Him, even if I desired it, I could not send away. 'Twere easier to sunder my soul from my body. Love, a little a wine in my head, a chaplet slipping from my perfumed hair, these are the things I bring. Who could be scared at them? Who would be daunted by such foes? The night speeds on; slide back the bolts.

Is it thy slowness, is it sleep that is no friend to Love, that makes thee heedless of my prayers and flings them to the winds? Yet, if my memory deceive me not, when,

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once on a time, I sought to evade thee, I found thee astir in the middle of the night. Peradventure at this moment thine own belovèd is reposing at thy side. If this be so, how preferable is thy lot to mine. If it be so, pass on to me, ye cruel chains! The night speeds on; slide back the bolts.

Do I dream? Did not the door swing upon its hinges? Did it not grunt its signal for me to enter? Alas, I was deceived! ’Twas but an unruly gust of wind that made it creak. Ah, hapless me! How far away that gust doth bear my hopes. If, O Boreas, thou dost bethink thee of the ravished Orithya, come swiftly hither and, with thy blast, beat down this heedless door. All is quiet in the city. Moist with diamond dew, the night speeds on; slide back the bolts.

Open, I say, open, or I, better prepared than thou, with my sword and with the fire I bear within my torch, will break into this disdainful house. Night, Love and Wine counsel no half-hearted measures. Night knoweth not shame. Love and Wine know not fear. Everything, prayers, threats have I essayed, but all in vain, nought could avail to move thee, O man more deaf than the door thou guardest! Thou wast not made to guard a lovely woman's door. Thy office should be to keep the key of a loathsome dungeon. But see, the morning star is risen, and the cock's shrill trumpet calls the labourer to his task. And, flowery wreath, which from my brows sadly I disengage, lie there upon this heartless threshold through the night. When on the morrow my mistress shall descry thee trailing there, tell her the hours that, sick at heart, I wasted at her door. Farewell, porter; in spite of all, I say to thee, farewell. Mayest thou thyself suffer the agony of unrequited love. Muddy-mettled villain, who wouldst not give admittance to a lover, fare thee well. And ye too, ye cruel doors with your pitiless hinges, and threshold more slavish than the churl that guards thee, to all I say farewell.


Ianitor--indignum!--dura religate catena,
    difficilem moto cardine pande forem!
quod precor, exiguum est--aditu fac ianua parvo
    obliquum capiat semiadaperta latus.
5 longus amor tales corpus tenuavit in usus
    aptaque subducto pondere membra dedit.
ille per excubias custodum leniter ire
    monstrat: inoffensos derigit ille pedes.
At quondam noctem simulacraque vana timebam;
10     mirabar, tenebris quisquis iturus erat.
risit, ut audirem, tenera cum matre Cupido
    et leviter 'fies tu quoque fortis' ait.
nec mora, venit amor--non umbras nocte volantis,
    non timeo strictas in mea fata manus.
15 te nimium lentum timeo, tibi blandior uni;
    tu, me quo possis perdere, fulmen habes.
Adspice--uti videas, inmitia claustra relaxa--
    uda sit ut lacrimis ianua facta meis!
certe ego, cum posita stares ad verbera veste,
20     ad dominam pro te verba tremente tuli.
ergo quae valuit pro te quoque gratia quondam--
    heu facinus!--pro me nunc valet illa parum?
redde vicem meritis! grato licet esse quod optas.
    tempora noctis eunt; excute poste seram!
25 Excute! sic, inquam, longa relevere catena,
    nec tibi perpetuo serva bibatur aqua!
ferreus orantem nequiquam, ianitor, audis,
    roboribus duris ianua fulta riget.
urbibus obsessis clausae munimina portae
30     prosunt; in media pace quid arma times?
quid facies hosti, qui sic excludis amantem?
    tempora noctis eunt; excute poste seram!
Non ego militibus venio comitatus et armis;
    solus eram, si non saevus adesset Amor.
35 hunc ego, si cupiam, nusquam dimittere possum;
    ante vel a membris dividar ipse meis.
ergo Amor et modicum circa mea tempora vinum
    mecum est et madidis lapsa corona comis.
arma quis haec timeat? quis non eat obvius illis?
40     tempora noctis eunt; excute poste seram!
Lentus es: an somnus, qui te male perdat, amantis
    verba dat in ventos aure repulsa tua?
at, memini, primo, cum te celare volebam,
    pervigil in mediae sidera noctis eras.
45 forsitan et tecum tua nunc requiescit amica--
    heu, melior quanto sors tua sorte mea!
dummodo sic, in me durae transite catenae!
    tempora noctis eunt; excute poste seram!
Fallimur, an verso sonuerunt cardine postes,
50     raucaque concussae signa dedere fores?
fallimur--inpulsa est animoso ianua vento.
    ei mihi, quam longe spem tulit aura meam!
si satis es raptae, Borea, memor Orithyiae,
    huc ades et surdas flamine tunde foris!
55 urbe silent tota, vitreoque madentia rore
    tempora noctis eunt; excute poste seram!
Aut ego iam ferroque ignique paratior ipse,
    quem face sustineo, tecta superba petam.
nox et Amor vinumque nihil moderabile suadent;
60     illa pudore vacat, Liber Amorque metu.
omnia consumpsi, nec te precibusque minisque
    movimus, o foribus durior ipse tuis.
non te formosae decuit servare puellae
    limina, sollicito carcere dignus eras.
65 Iamque pruinosus molitur Lucifer axes,
    inque suum miseros excitat ales opus.
at tu, non laetis detracta corona capillis,
    dura super tota limina nocte iace!
tu dominae, cum te proiectam mane videbit,
70     temporis absumpti tam male testis eris.
Qualiscumque vale sentique abeuntis honorem;
    lente nec admisso turpis amante, vale!
vos quoque, crudeles rigido cum limine postes
    duraque conservae ligna, valete, fores!

Next: Elegy VII: He Curses Himself For Having Maltreated His Mistress.