Homage To Sextus Propertius - VIII
Jove, be merciful to that unfortunate woman
Or an ornamental death will be held to your debit,
The time is come, the air heaves in torridity,
The dry earth pants against the canicular heat,
But this heat is not the root of the matter:
She did not respect all the gods;
Such derelictions have destroyed other young ladies aforetime,
And what they swore in the cupboard
wind and wave scattered away.
Was Venus exacerbated by the existence of a comparable equal?
Is the ornamental goddess full of envy?
Have you contempted Juno's Pelasgian temples,
Have you denied Pallas good eyes ?
Or is it my tongue that wrongs you
with perpetual ascription of graces?
There comes, it seems, and at any rate
through perils, (so many) and of a vexed life,
The gentler hour of an ultimate day.
Io mooed the first years with averted head,
And now drinks Nile water like a god,
Ino in her young days fled pellmell out of Thebes,
Andromeda was offered to a sea-serpent
and respectably married to Perseus,
Callisto, disguised as a bear,
wandered through the Arcadian prairies
While a black veil was over her stars,
What if your fates are accelerated,
your quiet hour put forward,
You may find interment pleasing,
You will say that you succumbed to a danger identical,
charmingly identical, with Semele's,
And believe it, and she also will believe it,
being expert from experience,
And amid all the gloried and storied beauties of Maeonia
There shall be none in a better seat, not
one denying your prestige,
Now you may bear fate's stroke unperturbed,
Or Jove, harsh as he is, may turn aside your ultimate day.
Old lecher, let not Juno get wind of the matter,
Or perhaps Juno herself will go under,
If the young lady is taken?
There will be, in any case, a stir on Olympus.
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(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
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