Reference > Anthologies > Warner, et al., eds. > The Library > Verse

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
To Tullus
By Propertius (c. 50–c. 16 B.C.)
Translation of James Cranstoun

DEAR TULLUS, now I’d gladly plow wild Adria’s waves with thee,
And fearlessly my canvas spread upon the Ægean sea;
Yea, by thy side I’d o’er the steep Rhipæan ridges roam,
Or wend my toilsome way beyond swart Memnon’s distant home:
But me a maiden’s pleading words and circling arms detain;        5
’Gainst her pale cheek and earnest prayers to strive, alas! were vain.
Still of her ardent love for me she raves the weary night,
And swears there’s not a god in heaven, if e’er I leave her sight;
Declares that she is not my love; nay more, the frantic girl
Vents every threat that peevish maids at heartless lovers hurl;        10
Against her plaints a single hour I cannot, cannot hold.
Ah! perish he, if such there be, whose bosom could be cold!
True, I should see fair Athens reared beneath Minerva’s smile,
And Asia’s grandeur famed of old; but is it worth the while
To make my Cynthia scream what time my vessel seeks the sea,        15
To see her tear her tender cheeks in frenzied agony,
And say that she will kiss the wind that balks her lover’s plan,
And that no monster walks the earth so fell as faithless man?
Go, strive to earn a nobler wreath than e’er thine uncle wore,
And to our old allies their long-forgotten rights restore:        20
And may the unpitying Boy ne’er bring on thee my sorrows fell,
And all the tokens of a woe my tears too plainly tell;
For thou hast frittered not thy years on Beauty’s fatal charms,
But aye been ready to assert thy country’s cause in arms.
Here let me lie, as fortune aye hath willed it in the past;        25
And let me still devote my soul to folly to the last.
Many in tardy love have gladly spent their latest day,—
Then let me die with these, with these let earth conceal my clay:
For fame I was not nurtured, nor in arms would glorious prove;
The Fates decree my fields shall be the battle-plains of love.        30
Then whether thou shalt roam athwart Ionia’s pleasant lands,
Or where Pactolus streaks the Lydian vales with golden sands;
Whether on foot thou’lt scour the plain or tempt with oars the sea,
And all the duties well discharge thine office claims from thee:
If thou shouldst chance to think of me in foreign climes afar,        35
Be well assured I’m living still beneath a baleful star.

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