Horace (Q. Horatius Flaccus)tr. W.G.Shepherd
Cum tu, Lydia, Telephi
cervicem roseam, cerea Telephi
laudas bracchia, vae meum
fervens difficili bile tumet iecur.
tum nec mens mihi nec color
certa sede manent, umor et in genas
furtim labitur, arguens
quam lentis penitus macerer ignibus.
uror, seu tibi candidos
turparunt umeros immodicae mero
rixae, sive puer furens
impressit memorem dente labris notam.
non, si me satis audias,
speres perpetuum dulcia barbare
laedentem oscula quae Venus
quinta parte sui nectaris imbuit.
felices ter et amplius
quos irrupta tenet copula nec malis
divulsus querimoniis
suprema citius solvet amor die.
Lydia, when you praise
Telephus' rosy neck or Telephus'
wax-white arms, alas,
my simmering liver swells with crotchety bile;
nor my mind nor complexion
are true to their nature, and stealthy tears
on my cheeks are symptoms
of inward maceration above slow fires;
and if some violent, drunken row
has marked your snowy shoulders or the ravening
boy has stamped a memento
on your lips with his teeth, I am charred.
You may not, let me tell you,
expect fidelity of the savage who injures
that delicious mouth which Venus
has imbued with the essence of her nectar.
Thrice happy the couple
who are not torn apart by quarrels
but are held in a bond
of unbroken love which only death dissolves.

Click here 1 for another translation of this poem.

Transl. Copyright © W.G.Shepherd 1983 - publ. Penguin Classics

...buy this book
translator's next