Monday, 11 July 2011


Tibullus, pull yourself together!

Tibullus, pull yourself together!
You musn’t make such heavy weather
When women throw you over.
All day you melt in songs of woe,
Merely because a younger beau
Is now Neara’s lover.

The slender-brow’d Lycoris burns
For Cyrus: presto, Cyrus turns
To court the peevish Julia;
But Julia will no more abate
Her virgin pride, than does will mate
With wolves from wild Apulia.

Thus Venus plays her grimmest joke;
She loves to match beneath her yoke
Those who have least in common,
And both in looks and characters
Concocts the most unlikely pairs –
No help for man or woman!

Take my own case: I might have wooed
A girl as fair as she was good,
And here you see me slaving,
In utter bliss, for Myrtale,
A slur, more tetchy than the sea
Round southern headlands raving.

trans by edward marsh