Book 4, Ode 1, [To Venus]
"Intermissa, Venus, diu." Venus, again thou mov'st a war Long intermitted, pray thee, pray thee spare! I am not such, as in the reign Of the good Cynara I was; refrain Sour mother of sweet Loves, forbear To bend a man, now at his fiftieth year Too stubborn for commands so slack: Go where youth's soft entreaties call thee back. More timely hie thee to the house (With thy bright swans) of Paulus Maximus: There jest and feast, make him thine host If a fit liver thou dost seek to toast. For he's both noble, lovely, young, And for the troubled client fills his tongue: Child of a hundred arts, and far Will he display the ensigns of thy war. And when he, smiling, finds his grace With thee 'bove all his rivals' gifts take place, He'll thee a marble statue make, Beneath a sweet-wood roof, near Alba lake; There shall thy dainty nostril take In many a gum, and for thy soft ear's sake Shall verse be set to harp and lute, And Phrygian hau'boy, not without the flute. There twice a day in sacred lays, The youths and tender maids shall sing thy praise! And in the Salian manner meet Thrice 'bout thy altar, with their ivory feet. Me now, nor girl, nor wanton boy Delights, nor credulous hope of mutual joy; Nor care I now healths to propound Or with fresh flowers to girt my temples round. But why, oh why, my Ligurine, Flow my thin tears down these pale cheeks of mine? Or why my well-graced words among, With an uncomely silence, fails my tongue? Hard-hearted, I dream every night I hold thee fast! but fled hence with the light, Whether in Mars his field thou be, Or Tiber's winding streams, I follow thee.
This poem is in the public domain.