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.
The Aminta: ‘I Am Content, Thyrsis’
By Torquato Tasso (1544–1595)
Translation of Elizabeth Julia Hasell
  [The young hero, Amintas, tells his love for the beautiful Sylvia: how they played together as children; and then as boy and girl together fished, snared birds together, hunted,—and how, while they chased the deer, the mightier hunter Love made Amintas his prey. He drank a strange joy from Sylvia’s eyes, which yet left a bitter taste behind; he sighed and knew not why; he loved before he knew what love meant. When Sylvia cured her young friend Phyllis of a bee’s sting on her lip, by putting her mouth close to hers and murmuring a charm, Amintas straightway felt a desire for the same delightful experience, and secured it by pretending that he had received a like wound. At length the fire grew too great to be hidden. At a game in which each whispered a secret to his neighbor, Amintas murmured in Sylvia’s ear, “I burn for thee; I shall die unless thou aid me.” But Sylvia blushed with shame and wrath, not with love; made him no answer; and has been, as he sorrowfully says, his enemy from that day forward. Thrice since then has the reaper bent to his toil, thrice has winter shaken the green leaves from the trees; but though Amintas has tried every method of appeasing Sylvia’s anger, it seems all in vain, and no hope remains for him but death. This despair makes him disclose his long-hidden sorrows.]

“I AM content,
Thyrsis, to tell thee what the woods and hills
And rivers know, but men as yet know not.
For I am now so near unto my death,
That fit ’tis I should give one leave to rehearse        5
That death’s occasion, and to grave my story
Upon some beech-tree’s bark, near to the place
Where my dead body shall have found a tomb;
So that the cruel maiden passing by
May with proud foot rejoice to trample on        10
My wretched bones, and say within herself,
‘This is my trophy,’ and exult to see
Her victory known to every single shepherd,
Home-bred, or foreign guided here by chance:
Haply, too (ah! too much to hope), one day        15
It may be that she, moved by tardy pity,
May weep him dead whom she when living slew,
And say, ‘Would he were here, and he were mine!’”

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