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To  Love
Ovid's  Amours --2.9

Translated by
The Earl of Rochester

Ovid (43 BC 17 AD)  in his time, was considered "the master of love" and love was the topic of most of his poetry.  This poem is from his Book entitled "Amours" with the various Elegy's translated by many of the English poets of the 17th Century.  The Earl of Rochester (1647 - 1680) was known as the "Libertine".


O Love !    How cold, and slow to take my part,

Thou idle wanderer about my heart !

Why thy old faithful soldier wilt thou see

Oppress'd in thy own tents?    They murder me.

Thy flames consume, thy arrows pierce thy friends

Rather on foes pursue more noble ends.

Achilles' sword would certainly bestow

A cure, as certain as it gave the blow.

Hunters who follow flying game, give o'er

When the prey's caught; hopes still lead on before.

We thine own slaves feel thy tyrannic blows,

Whilst thy tame hand's unmov'd against thy foes.

On men disarm'd how can you gallant prove?

And I was long ago disarm'd by Love.

Millions of dull men live, and scornful maids;

We'll own Love valiant, when he these invades.

Rome from each corner of the wide-world snatch'd

A laurel, or't had been to this day thatch'd.

But the old soldier has his resting place,

And the good batter'd horse is turn'd to grass.

The harass'd whore, who liv'd a wretch to please,

Has leave to be a bawd, and take her ease.

For me then, who have truly spent my blood,

Love, in thy service, and so boldly stood

In Celia's trenches, were't not wisely done

E'en to retire, and live in peace at home?

No --- might I gain a god head to disclaim

My glorious title to my endless flame,

Divinity with scorn I would forswear,

Such sweet dear tempting devils women are.

Whene'er those flames grow faint, I quickly find

A fierce black storm pour down upon my mind;

Headlong I'm hurl'd like horsemen, who in vain

Their ( fury flaming ) courses would restrain:

As ships just when the harbour they attain

Are snatch'd by sudden blasts to sea again.

So love's fantastic storms reduce my heart.

Half rescu'd, and the god resumes his dart.

Strike here, this undefended bosom wound,

And for so brave a conquest be renown'd.

Shafts fly so fast to me from every part,

You'll scarce discern the quiver from my heart.

What wretch can bear a live-long night's dull rest,

Or think himself in lazy slumbers bless'd ?

Fool -- is not Sleep the image of pale Death,

There's time for rest when Fate hath stopp'd your breath.

Me may my soft deluding dear deceive,

I'm happy in my hopes while I believe;

Now let her flatter, then as fondly chide,

Often may I enjoy, oft be denied.

With doubtful steps the god of war does move,

By thy example in ambiguous love.

Blown to and fro, like down from my own wing,

Who knows when joy or anguish thou wilt bring ?

Yet at thy mother's and thy slave's request,

Fix an eternal empire in my breast:

And let the inconstant charming sex,

Whose wilful scorn does lovers vex.

Submit their hearts before thy throne,

The vassal world is then thy own.


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