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.
Love in the Country
By Tibullus (c. 55–19 B.C.)
Translation of James Cranstoun

A COT, Cerinthus, now my love detains:
  Iron were he who’d bear the city now;
For Venus’s self has sought the happy plains,
  And Love is taking lessons at the plow.
Could I but see my darling once so kind,        5
  How stoutly would I turn the fertile soil
With heavy rake—yea, like the poorest hind,
  I’d drive the crooked plow and bless the toil,
What time the sterile oxen till the ground;
  Nor would I ever of my lot complain,        10
Though scorching suns my slender limbs should wound,
  And o’er my soft hands rise the bursting blain.
The fair Apollo fed Admetus’s steers,
  Nor aught availed his lyre and locks unshorn;
No herbs could soothe his soul or dry his tears,—        15
  The powers of medicine were all outworn.
He drove the cattle forth at morn and even,
  Curdled the milk, and when his task was done,
Of pliant osiers wove the wicker sieve,
  Leaving chance holes through which the whey might run.        20
How oft pale Dian blushed and felt a pang,
  To see him bear a calf across the plain!
How oft as in the deepening dell he sang,
  The lowing oxen broke the hallowed strain!
Oft princes sought responses in despair;        25
  Crowds thronged his fanes,—unanswered all retired;
Oft Leto mourned his wild disordered hair,
  Which once his jealous stepdame had admired.
Loose were thy locks, O Phœbus! wan thy brow:
  Who would have dreamt those tresses e’er were thine?        30
Where’s Delos? Where is Delphic Pytho now?
  Love dooms thee in a lowly cot to pine.
Blest time when Venus might untrammeled rove,
  And gods all unashamed obeyed her nod!
Now love’s a jest, but he who’s thrall to love        35
  Would be a jest before a loveless god.

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