Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


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!

Credit


Copyright © 2005 by Peter Green. From The Poems of Exile. Reprinted with permission of the University of California Press.

Author


Ovid

Born on March 20, 43 BC, Ovid's poetic influence had a great impact on the writers of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance

Date Published: 2005-01-01

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/tristia-book-iii-section-2