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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
On the Death of Corinna’s Parrot
By Ovid (43 B.C.–18 A.D.)
 
Translation of Alfred John Church

OUR parrot, sent from India’s farthest shore,
Our parrot, prince of mimics, is no more.
Throng to his burial, pious tribes of air,
With rigid claw your tender faces tear!
Your ruffled plumes, like mourners’ tresses, rend,        5
And all your notes, like funeral trumpets, blend!
Mourn all that cleave the liquid skies; but chief,
Beloved turtle, lead the general grief,—
Through long harmonious days the parrot’s friend,
In mutual faith still loyal to the end!        10
What boots that faith? those splendid hues and strange?
That voice so skilled its various notes to change?
What to have won my gentle lady’s grace?
Thou diest, hapless glory of thy race.
Red joined with saffron in thy beak was seen,        15
And green thy wings beyond the emerald’s sheen;
Nor ever lived on earth a wiser bird,
With lisping voice to answer all he heard.
 
’Twas envy slew thee: all averse to strife,
One love of chatter filled thy peaceful life;        20
For ever satisfied with scantiest fare,
Small time for food that busy tongue could spare.
Walnuts and sleep-producing poppies gave
Thy simple diet, and thy drink the wave.
Long lives the hovering vulture, long the kite        25
Pursues through air the circles of his flight;
Many the years the noisy jackdaws know,
Prophets of rainfall; and the boding crow
Waits, still unscathed by armed Minerva’s hate,
Three ages three times told, a tardy fate.        30
But he, our prattler from earth’s farthest shore,
Our human tongue’s sweet image, is no more.
Thus still the ravening Fates our best devour,
And spare the mean till life’s extremest hour.
Why tell the prayers my lady prayed in vain,        35
Borne by the stormy south wind o’er the main?
The seventh dawn had come, the last for thee;
With empty distaff stood the fatal Three:
Yet still from failing throat thy accents rung;
Farewell, Corinna! cried thy dying tongue.        40
There stands a grove with dark-green ilex crowned
Beneath the Elysian hill, and all around
With turf undying shines the verdant ground.
There dwells, if true the tale, the pious race:
All evil birds are banished from the place;        45
There harmless swans unbounded pasture find;
There dwells the phœnix, single of his kind;
The peacock spreads his splendid plumes in air;
The kissing doves sit close, an amorous pair;
There, in their woodland home a guest allowed,        50
Our parrot charms the pious listening crowd.
Beneath a mound of justly measured size,
Small tombstone, briefest epitaph, he lies:
“His mistress’s darling”—that this stone may show
The prince of feathered speakers lies below.        55
 
 
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