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To his mercenary Mistress

Ovid's  Amours -- Book 1- e10

Translation by
Henry Cromwell

NOTE: Henry Cromwell ( 1628 - 1674 ) was a son of Oliver Cromwell. He translated a few of Ovid's poems, along with other famous persons of his era, for a publication of Ovid's Amours.


As Helen, when to Troy she did escape,

And Greeks with fire and sword pursu'd the rape;

As Leda, when the god his love-trick play'd,

Under the figure of a swan betray'd;

As Amymone, wandering o'er the plains,

That rural fair, admir'd by all the swains;

So fair was you, so much in love was I,

I ran to the extremes of jealousy,

Fear'd eagles, bulls, and every shape that Jove

Had e'er transform'd himself into, for love:

Now, free from love or fears, mi mind's at ease,

Nor does that beauty any longer please.

The humour, you may say, is wondrous strange,

And ask the reason of this sudden change:

Once, when your undesigning hear was kind,

Fair was your face, and perfect was your mind;

But now the slighter beauties of the skin

Do yield to the prevailing vice within:

Love is a child, who uses no deceit,

Nor wear the clothes to cover any cheat,

Accepts no bribes --- why for a wretched fee

Should you then prostitute his deity,

Make Venus and her son serve every day,

And drudge i'th'meanest offices for pay?

They're softly bred, and would not work, but play:

The whore, to whom each purchases has right.

Forces for gain decaying appetite,

Yet there's a bawd to whom the spoils accrue;

She fain would shun what you by choice pursue:

These sordid ways the very brutes reprove,

Who by their practice teach you how to love;

The lusty bull his female does enjoy,

Nor can a bribe their mutual loves destroy:

Women alone rejoices in the spoil,

And makes advantages of every smile,

Rates at her pleasure the high-priz'd delight,

And men must purchase every happy sight;

Yet does she meet him with as much desire,

And no less fierce and raging is the fire.

Since with an equal pace our passions move,

Why should one buy, and th'other sell, in love?

Why. since the pleasure's mutual, should it be

To you advantage, and a loss to me?

The way is infamous a witness takes,

Who of his perjury a living makes;

So for the raising of a low estate

To set your body at a common rate !

Can you to such mean ends as these employ

The gifts by nature's bounty you enjoy?

Grant but the blessing freely, and you may

An everlasting obligation lay;

But where's the mighty favour, when we pay?

Forbear, ye fair, to make a trade of love,

The wealth that's got so ill, can ne'er mprove;

Justly the Vestal by their armour fell,

Who would her hounour for their bracelets sell

The rich your wishes are oblig'd to meet,

And lay their frequent presents at your feet;

Alcinous' orchards fruit enough can spare,

From the full vines the grapes in clusters tear,

And ease th'o'er-loaded boughs, which numerous apples bear:

Let faith and love supply my little store,

The will shall ne'er be wanting to the power:

Verse is the greatest tribute I can bring:

Your charms I could to future ages sing:

Jewels and gold will perish -- but the fame

The Muses give, shall ever be the same:

You check my generous passion when you crave,

Not that I'm loth to part with what I have;

Had you not ask'd me, I had freely gave.


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