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BEHOLD here another work of Ovid, who was born in the moist land of the Peligni, of Ovid who singeth to the world of his own follies. This time, again, ’twas Love that willed it. Hence! Avaunt! ye prim and prudish ones. No fitting audience, ye, to strains that sing of tender love. I would be read of none save the maiden that grows warm when she beholds her lover, and of the boy till now unvisited by Love. I pray, too, that some young man, wounded by an arrow sped from the same bow that hath stricken me, may recognise in my verse the image of the flames whereby he is consumed. Long may he marvel, and then at last exclaim, "How comes it that this poet singeth the very story of my love? Who is it hath informed him?"

I was, I remember, making bold to sing of the Wars of Heaven and Gyges of the hundred hands, and verily I was well equipped for that great argument. I was about to sin the fell revenge of Tellus and the fall of Pelion with Ossa crashing down from high Olympus whereon they were empiled. In my hands I held the clouds, Jove and his thunderbolts, wherewith he would not have failed to defend his heavenly realms. And then my mistress slammed her door against me. Forthwith I dropped Jupiter and his lightnings; aye, Jupiter himself clean vanished from my mind. Forgive me, Jupiter thy weapons were of no avail to me. That close-shut door

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moved me more than all thy thunderbolts. Back to my love songs and my gentle elegies went I; those are the arms for me, and ere long my gentle plaint moved to compassion the unfeeling doors. Poetry hath power to bring the blood-red moon to earth; poetry stayeth in mid-career the snow-white coursers of the sun. Poetry robbeth the serpent of his poisoned fang, and maketh the rivers to flow backward to their sources. Poetry hath battered down doors, it hath forced back locks, how tight soever they were welded to the massy oak. What had it booted me to sing Achilles fleet of foot; what would the sons of Atreus have done for me, or he who waged fierce war for ten long years and then wandered ten more upon his homeward way; or hapless Hector, dragged by the Hæmonian steeds across the dusty plain? But as soon as ever I pipe the praises of a sweet young girl, she cometh in person to pay the singer for his song. And that, methinks, is no small recompense. So farewell, ye heroes with illustrious names; not yours to bestow, the favours that I crave. But as for you, my charmers, look sweetly on the songs which rosy Cupid singeth in mine ear.


Hoc quoque conposui Paelignis natus aquosis,
    ille ego nequitiae Naso poeta meae.
hoc quoque iussit Amor--procul hinc, procul este, severae!
    non estis teneris apta theatra modis.
me legat in sponsi facie non frigida virgo,
    et rudis ignoto tactus amore puer;
atque aliquis iuvenum quo nunc ego saucius arcu
    agnoscat flammae conscia signa suae,
miratusque diu 'quo' dicat 'ab indice doctus
    conposuit casus iste poeta meos?'
Ausus eram, memini, caelestia dicere bella
    centimanumque Gyen--et satis oris erat--
cum male se Tellus ulta est, ingestaque Olympo
    ardua devexum Pelion Ossa tulit.
in manibus nimbos et cum Iove fulmen habebam,
    quod bene pro caelo mitteret ille suo--
Clausit amica fores! ego cum Iove fulmen omisi;
    excidit ingenio Iuppiter ipse meo.
Iuppiter, ignoscas! nil me tua tela iuvabant;
    clausa tuo maius ianua fulmen habet.
blanditias elegosque levis, mea tela, resumpsi;
    mollierunt duras lenia verba fores.
carmina sanguineae deducunt cornua lunae,
    et revocant niveos solis euntis equos;
carmine dissiliunt abruptis faucibus angues,
    inque suos fontes versa recurrit aqua.
carminibus cessere fores, insertaque posti,
    quamvis robur erat, carmine victa sera est.
Quid mihi profuerit velox cantatus Achilles?
    quid pro me Atrides alter et alter agent,
quique tot errando, quot bello, perdidit annos,
    raptus et Haemoniis flebilis Hector equis?
at facie tenerae laudata saepe puellae,
    ad vatem, pretium carminis, ipsa venit.
magna datur merces! heroum clara valete
    nomina; non apta est gratia vestra mihi!
ad mea formosos vultus adhibete, puellae,
    carmina, purpureus quae mihi dictat Amor!

Next: Elegy II: To The Eunuch Bagoas, Begging Him To Give Him Access To The Fair One Committed To His Charge.