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.