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Ovid's Amours -- Book I

Elegy 1

Translated by
John Dryden

NOTE: John Dryden ( 1631 - 1700 ) was a leading poet, translator, and literary critic. He translated a few of Ovid's poems, along with other famous persons of his era.


For mighty wars I thought to tune my lute,

And make my measures to my subject suit.

Six feet for every verse the muse design'd,

But Cupid, laughing, when he saw my mind,

From every second verse a foot purloin'd.

Who gave thee, boy, this arbitrary sway,

On subjects, not thy own, commands to lay,

Who Phoebus only and his laws obey?

'Tis more absurd, than if the Queen of Love

Should in Minerva's arms to battle move;

Or Manly Pallas from that Queen should take

Her torch, and o'er the dying lover shake.

In fields as well may Cynthia sow the corn,

Or Ceres wind in woods the bugle horn.

As well may Phoebus quit the trembling string

For sword and shield; and Mars may learn to sing.

Already thy dominions are too large;

Be not ambitious of a foreign charge.

If thou wilt reign o'er all, and everywhere,

The god of music for his harp may fear.

Thus, when with soaring wings I seek renown,

Thou pluck'st my pinions, and I flutter down.

Could I on such mean thoughts my muse employ,

I want a mistress, or a blooming boy.

Thus I complain'd; his bow the stripling bent,

And chose an arrow fit for his intent.

The shaft his purpose fatally pursues;

Now, Poet, there's a subject for thy muse,

He said: (too well, alas, he knows his trade )

For in my breast a mortal wound he made.

For hence ye proud hexameters remove,

My verse is pac'd and trammell'd into love.

With myrtle wreaths my thoughtful rows enclose.

While in unequal verse I sing my woes.


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