Verse > Anthologies > T. R. Smith, ed. > Poetica Erotica: A Collection of Rare and Curious Amatory Verse
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T. R. Smith, comp.  Poetica Erotica: Rare and Curious Amatory Verse.  1921–22.
 
An Elegy
By Propertius (c. 50–c. 16 B.C.)
 
(Translated by Mr. Adams. Miscellany Poems, 1702)

AS on the beach sad Ariadne lay,
While the deaf winds false Theseus bore away;
As from the rock Andromeda redeemed,
More sweet, more fair in her first slumber seemed;
Or as the no less weary Bacchanal        5
Surprised by sleep near some smooth stream does fall;
Such seemed to me, so was my Cynthia laid,
While breathing soft repose the lovely maid
On her fair hand reclined her bending head;
When I, well drunk through the too narrow street        10
Dragged home at midnight my unfaithful feet;
But as she appeared so charming to my view,
Gently I pressed the bed, and near her drew,
Thinking (for so much sense I still retained)
The Fort of Love might by surprise be gained;        15
Yet though commanded by a double fire,
Both by the flames of wine, and hot desire;
Though my lewd hand would naughtily have strayed,
And I would fain my arms have ready made;
I durst not in the soft assault engage,        20
Dreading to wake her well experienced rage;
But so my greedy eyes surveyed her o’er,
The waking Argus watched not Io more;
Sometimes I loosed the chaplet from my brow,
And tried how sweetly ’twould on Cynthia’s show.        25
Sometimes corrected her disordered hair,
That loosely wantoned with the sportive air;
And when she sighed, I credulously feared
Some frightful vision to my love appeared.
Till the bright moon thro’ the wide window shone,        30
(The moon that would not suddenly be gone;)
She with her subtile rays unclosed her eyes,
When thus against me did her fury rise.
  At length affronted by some tawdry jade,
Kicked out of doors, you’re forced into my bed;        35
For where is it you spend my nights? you come,
Drawn off and impotent, at morning, home;
I wish, base man! I with such nights you had,
As you force me! unhappy me! to lead!
Sometimes, I with my needle sleep deceive,        40
Then with my lute my weariness relieve;
Then do I weep, and curse your tedious stay,
While in some other’s arms you melt away;
Till sleep’s soft wings my willing eyelids close,
Beguile my sorrows, and my cares compose.        45
 
 
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