Tristia, Book III, Section 2
So it was my destiny to travel as far as Scythia, that land lying below the northern pole, and neither you, Muses, nor you, Leto’s son Apollo, cultured crowd though you are, gave any help to your own priest: the fact that my poetry’s more wanton than my life, that my fun is free of real offence does me no good. I’ve suffered innumerable perils on land and sea; now Pontus, seared by perpetual cold, imprisons me, and I, the escapist, born for leisured comfort, once soft and incapable of toil, now endure the worst — yet neither my distant journeys nor these harbourless seas have been able to destroy a spirit that’s matched its misfortunes: from it my body borrowed strength to bear what was scarce to be borne. Yet while I still was prey to the hazards of land and ocean, Such hardships in fact beguiled my care, my aching hear; but now the trip’s done, the toil of traveling ended, now I’ve reached the land of my banishment, weeping’s my only pleasure, the tears come flooding fuller than melted snow in spring. Rome and home haunt me, all the places I know and yearn for, Whatever's left of me in the City I’ve lost. Ah me, the times I’ve knocked at my sepulchre-door, yet never found it open! Why have I so often escaped a sword-thrust, why do the storm-clouds endlessly threaten, yet never overwhelm my unlucky head? You gods — whom I’m finding over-relentless in sharing the fury felt by a single god — spur on, I beseech you, the laggard Fates, forbid the portals of my destruction to be closed!
Copyright © 2005 by Peter Green. From The Poems of Exile. Reprinted with permission of the University of California Press.