Verse > John Dryden > Poems
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John Dryden (1631–1700).  The Poems of John Dryden.  1913.
 
Translations
From Ovid’s Amours.
Book I. Eleg. I.
 
FOR 1 mighty Wars I thought to Tune my Lute,
And make my Measures to my Subject suit.
Six Feet for ev’ry Verse the Muse design’d:
But Cupid, laughing, when he saw my Mind,
From ev’ry Second Verse a Foot purloin’d.        5
Who gave Thee, Boy, this Arbitrary sway,
On Subjects, not thy own, Commands to lay,
Who Phœbus only and his Laws obey?
’Tis more absurd than if the Queen of Love
Should in Minerva’s arms to Battel move;        10
Or Manly Pallas from that Queen should take
Her Torch, and o’re the dying Lover shake.
In fields as well may Cynthia sow the Corn,
Or Ceres wind in Woods the Bugle Horn.
As well may Phœbus quit the trembling String,        15
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 e’re all, and ev’ry where,
The God of Musick for his Harp may fear.        20
Thus when with soaring Wings I seek Renown,
Thou pluck’st my Pinnions, and I flutter down.
Cou’d 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,        25
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.        30
Far hence, ye proud Hexameters, remove,
My Verse is pac’d and tramel’d into love.
With Myrtle Wreaths my thoughtful brows inclose,
While in unequal Verse I sing my Woes.
 
Note 1. Text of 1704. [back]
 
 
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