Verse > Anthologies > T. R. Smith, ed. > Poetica Erotica: A Collection of Rare and Curious Amatory Verse
T. R. Smith, comp.  Poetica Erotica: Rare and Curious Amatory Verse.  1921–22.
Elegy to Gallus
By Propertius (c. 50–c. 16 B.C.)
In Praise of His Mistress

(Translated by John Nott)

[LAUGH, as thou’rt wont, to see me sit forlorn,
Left, Gallus, by my truant nymph to mourn;]
Yet, faithless youth, I’ll not thy taunts return;
No female falsehood may my Gallus mourn!
While nymphs betrayed increase thy am’rous fame,        5
While fickle still thou rov’st from flame to flame;
Yet for one fair at length thy cheeks grow pale,
And in the first attack thy efforts fail!
One shall avenge full many a slighted maid,
By one the wrongs of thousands be repaid!        10
One shall each vagrant looser love constrain,
And no new conquest shalt thou strive to gain!
Untaught by fame, unskilled in prophecy,
I’ve seen—and canst thou what I saw deny?
Locked to her neck, I’ve seen thee panting laid;        15
I’ve seen thy tears; thine arms thrown round the maid;
On her dear lips I’ve seen thee wish to die;
Nay wish those things, which shame must needs pass by.
  Not e’en my presence could your raptures stay,
Such raging passions bore your souls away;        20
Less fond the god whom Tænarus adores,
When with Enipeus, through Hæmonian shores,
He mixt his waves; and to his fraudful breast
The beauteous daughter of Salmoneus prest:
Less fond Alcides, when from Œta’s height        25
He rose to regions of eternal light,
And first enfolded in his longing arms
Celestial Hebe’s ever-blooming charms.
One day!—and thine exceeds all former fires;
No lukewarm flame thy beauteous maid inspires;        30
[Thy old disdain she lets thee not renew;
No more thou’lt swerve; passion shall keep thee true.]
Nor is it strange that such should be thy love,
When thy bright fair might grace the arms of Jove:
As Leda’s self, or Leda’s daughter fair,        35
She with the beauteous three might well compare;
Not Argive heroines with her charms can vie,
Her speech might win the ruler of the sky.
  Since doom’d to passion, let thy flame burn on;
Of her thou’rt worthy, and of her alone:        40
New is thy love, so prosp’rous may it be!
And let this nymph be every nymph to thee.

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