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John Dryden (1631–1700).  The Poems of John Dryden.  1913.
 
Translations
The Despairing Lover, from the Twenty-third Idyllium of Theocritus
 
WITH 1 inauspicious love, a wretched Swain
Pursu’d the fairest Nimph of all the Plain;
Fairest indeed, but prouder far than fair,
She plung’d him hopeless in a deep despair:
Her heav’nly form too haughtily she priz’d,        5
His person hated, and his Gifts despis’d;
Nor knew the force of Cupids cruel darts,
Nor fear’d his awful power on human hearts;
But either from her hopeless Lover fled,
Or with disdainful glances shot him dead.        10
No kiss, no look, to cheer the drooping Boy;
No word she spoke, she scorn’d ev’n to deny.
But, as a hunted Panther casts about
Her glaring eyes, and pricks her list’ning ears to scout,
So she, to shun his Toyls, her cares imploy’d,        15
And fiercely in her savage freedom joy’d.
Her mouth she writh’d, her forehead taught to frown,
Her eyes to sparkle fires to Love unknown:
Her sallow Cheeks her envious mind did show,
And every feature spoke aloud the curstness of a Shrew.        20
Yet cou’d not he his obvious Fate escape;
His love still drest her in a pleasing shape;
And every sullen frown, and bitter scorn,
But fann’d the fuel that too fast did burn.
Long time, unequal to his mighty pain,        25
He strove to curb it, but he strove in vain:
At last his woes broke out, and begg’d relief
With tears, the dumb petitioners of grief:
With Tears so tender, as adorn’d his Love,
And any heart, but only hers, wou’d move.        30
Trembling before her bolted doors he stood,
And there pour’d out th’ unprofitable flood:
Staring his eyes, and haggard was his look;
Then, kissing first the threshold, thus he spoke.
  Ah Nymph more cruel than of humane Race,        35
Thy Tygress heart belies thy Angel Face:
Too well thou show’st thy Pedigree from Stone:
Thy Grandames was the first by Pyrrha thrown:
Unworthy thou to be so long desir’d;
But so my Love, and so my Fate requir’d.        40
I beg not now (for ’tis in vain) to live;
But take this gift, the last that I can give.
This friendly Cord shall soon decide the strife
Betwixt my ling’ring Love and loathsome life:
This moment puts an end to all my pain;        45
I shall no more despair, nor thou disdain.
Farewel, ungrateful and unkind! I go
Condemn’d by thee to those sad shades below.
I go th’ extreamest remedy to prove,
To drink Oblivion, and to drench my Love:        50
There happily to lose my long desires:
But ah, what draught so deep to quench my Fires?
Farewell, ye never-opening Gates, ye Stones,
And Threshold guilty of my Midnight Moans:
What I have suffer’d here ye know too well;        55
What I shall do the gods and I can tell.
The Rose is fragrant, but it fades in time:
The Violet sweet, but quickly past the prime;
White Lillies hang their heads, and soon decay,
And whiter Snow in minutes melts away:        60
Such is your blooming youth, and withering so:
The time will come, it will, when you shall know
The rage of Love; your haughty heart shall burn
In Flames like mine, and meet a like return.
Obdurate as you are, oh! hear at least        65
My dying prayers, and grant my last request.
When first you ope your doors, and, passing by,
The sad ill Omend Object meets your Eye,
Think it not lost, a moment if you stay;
The breathless wretch, so made by you, survey:        70
Some cruel pleasure will from thence arise,
To view the mighty ravage of your Eyes.
I wish (but oh! my wish is vain I fear)
The kind Oblation of a falling Tear:
Then loose the knot, and take me from the place,        75
And spread your Mantle o’er my grizly Face;
Upon my livid Lips bestow a kiss
O envy not the dead, they feel not bliss!
Nor fear your kisses can restore my breath;
E’en you are not more pittiless than death        80
Then for my Corps a homely Grave provide,
Which Love and me from publick Scorn may hide,
Thrice call upon my Name, thrice beat your Breast,
And hayl me thrice to everlasting rest:
Last let my Tomb this sad Inscription bear:        85
A wretch whom Love has kill’d lies buried here;
Oh, Passengers, Amintas Eyes beware.
  Thus having said, and furious with his Love,
He heav’d with more than humane force to move
A weighty Stone (the labour of a Team)        90
And rais’d from thence he reach’d the Neighbouring Beam:
Around its bulk a sliding knot he throws,
And fitted to his Neck the fatal noose:
Then spurning backward, took a swing, ’till death
Crept up, and stopp’d the passage of his Breath.        95
The bounce burst ope the door; the Scornful Fair
Relentless lookt, and saw him beat his quivering feet in Air,
Nor wept his fate, nor cast a pitying eye,
Nor took him down, but brusht regardless by:
And, as she pass’d, her chance or fate was such,        100
Her Garments toucht the dead, polluted by the touch.
Next to the dance, thence to the Bath did move;
The bath was sacred to the God of Love;
Whose injur’d Image, with a wrathful Eye,
Stood threatning from a Pedestal on high:        105
Nodding a while, and watchful of his blow,
He fell; and falling crusht th’ ungrateful Nymph below:
Her gushing Blood the Pavement all besmear’d;
And this her last expiring Voice was heard;
  Lovers, farewell, revenge has reacht my scorn;        110
Thus warn’d, be wise, and love for love return.
 
Note 1. Text from the original of 1685. [back]
 
 
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