I.iv: SIC UMBROSA TIBI CONTINGANT
TECTA ...
NAKED BEFORE THE WINTER'S
FROST ...
Albius Tibullus tr. Michael Smith


'Sic umbrosa tibi contingant tecta, Priape,
Ne capiti soles, ne noceantque nives:
Quae tua formosos cepit sollertia? certe
Non tibi barba nitet, non tibi culta coma est,
Nudus et hibernae producis frigora brumae,
Nudus et aestivi tempora sicca Canis.'



Sic ego; tum Bacchi respondit rustica proles
Armatus curva sic mihi falce deus:
'O fuge te tenerae puerorum credere turbae,
Nam causam iusti semper amoris habent.
Hic placet, angustis quod equom conpescit habenis,
Hic placidam niveo pectore pellit aquam,
Hic, quia fortis adest audacia, cepit; at illi
Virgineus teneras stat pudor ante genas.



Sed ne te capiant, primo si forte negabit,
Taedia: paulatim sub iuga colla dabit.
Longa dies homini docuit parere leones,
Longa dies molli saxa peredit aqua;
Annus in apricis maturat collibus uvas,
Annus agit certa lucida signa vice.



Nec iurare time: Veneris periuria venti
Inrita per terras et freta summa ferunt.
Gratia magna Iovi: vetuit pater ipse valere,
Iurasset cupide quicquid ineptus amor,
Perque suas inpune sinit Dictynna sagittas
Adfirmes crines perque Minerva suos.



At si tardus eris, errabis: transiet aetas.
Quam cito non segnis stat remeatque dies,
Quam cito purpureos deperdit terra colores,
Quam cito formosas populus alta comas!
Quam iacet, infirmae venere ubi fata senectae,
Qui prior Eleo est carcere missus equos!



Vidi iam iuvenem, premeret cum serior aetas,
Maerentem stultos praeteriisse dies.
Crudeles divi! serpens novus exuit annos,
Formae non ullam fata dedere moram.
Solis aeterna est Baccho Phoeboque iuventas,
Nam decet intonsus crinis utrumque deum.



Tu, puero quodcumque tuo temptare libebit,
Cedas: obsequio plurima vincet amor.
Neu comes ire neges, quamvis via longa paretur
Et Canis arenti torreat arva siti,
Quamvis praetexens picta ferrugine caelum
Venturam anticipet imbrifer arcus aquam.



Vel si caeruleas puppi volet ire per undas,
Ipse levem remo per freta pelle ratem.
Nec te paeniteat duros subiisse labores
Aut opera insuetas adteruisse manus,
Nec, velit insidiis altas si claudere valles,
Dum placeas, umeri retia ferre negent.



Si volet arma, levi temptabis ludere dextra:
Saepe dabis nudum, vincat ut ille, latus.
Tum tibi mitis erit, rapias tum cara licebit
Oscula: pugnabit, sed tamen apta dabit.
Rapta dabit primo, post adferet ipse roganti,
Post etiam collo se inplicuisse velit.



Heu male nunc artes miseras haec saecula tractant:
Iam tener adsuevit munera velle puer.
At tu, qui venerem docuisti vendere primus,
Quisquis es, infelix urgeat ossa lapis.
Pieridas, pueri, doctos et amate poetas,
Aurea nec superent munera Pieridas.



Carmine purpurea est Nisi coma: carmina ni sint,
Ex umero Pelopis non nituisset ebur.
Quem referent Musae, vivet, dum robora tellus,
Dum caelum stellas, dum vehet amnis aquas.
At qui non audit Musas, qui vendit amorem,
Idaeae currus ille sequatur Opis
Et tercentenas erroribus expleat urbes
Et secet ad Phrygios vilia membra modos.


Blanditiis volt esse locum Venus ipsa: querelis
Supplicibus, miseris fletibus illa favet.'
Haec mihi, quae canerem Titio, deus edidit ore,
Sed Titium coniunx haec meminisse vetat.
Pareat ille suae; vos me celebrate magistrum,
Quos male habet multa callidus arte puer.


Gloria cuique sua est: me, qui spernentur, amantes
Consultent: cunctis ianua nostra patet.
Tempus erit, cum me Veneris praecepta ferentem
Deducat iuvenum sedula turba senem.
Heu heu quam Marathus lento me torquet amore!
Deficiunt artes, deficiuntque doli.
Parce, puer, quaeso, ne turpis fabula fiam,
Cum mea ridebunt vana magisteria.


'Naked before the winter's frost,
naked under the summer's heat
you stand, and do not give a curse
your beard's not glossy, hair not neat.
And yet you captivate the fair!
Come, Priapus, disclose your snare.'

Thus I spoke to Bacchus' son,
the sickle-armed and rustic god,
who then replied: 'No man's undone
if first the youth ignore his nod:
refusal must submit at length
if one persist with greater strength.

'But be suspicious all the while,
for youths know how to reach a heart:
some with daring strength beguile
and some use their equestrian art;
and others, swimming, show a thigh,
and some with maiden coyness try.

'Yet nonetheless must patience win:
lions in time evolve to kittens
and water, rolling soft and thin,
in time transforms its stocks to mittens;
a year matures the hillside grapes,
makes stars assume their last year shapes.

'Invoke the gods your oaths to witness
and never fear; for oaths of love
possess no thoughtful fitness
by the canon of great Jove.
Minerva, too, with Diana taught
love's thoughtless oaths be held at naught.

'But if you are not prompt, you miss
all that fleeting time removes;
the year's not static and comes but once,
the earth soon loses lovely hues.
The courser of Elaean fame
now old, lies helpless, without name.

'For I have seen a youth grow old
to rue his hesitating ways:
though serpents cast off last year's fold,
the Fates grant beauty no delays.
Eternal youth but two adorns,
Phoebus and Bacchus with locks unshorn.

'Whatever your fair one would do
by all means give her your alliance;
what she would do, let you do too;
love conquers mostly by compliance.
If she wish to journey far,
though you hear the yelping dog-star,

'though the rainbow portend rain,
tell her these things are of no matter.
What if she wish to cross the main,
take you the oars and give no chatter.
Grudge not to soil you lily hands
in any labour she commands.

'And if she wish to hunt in valleys,
take you the hunting-net and go;
or if she wish to fence and parry,
be sure your side her fence to show.
For when she hits, then all your misses
will be repaid with countless kisses.

'Alas, how vile for art these times:
the tender girl wants wealthy spoils
and treats indifferently our rhymes
and calls us cheapjacks for our toils.
May the fools that start these craves
have heavy stones upon their graves.

'O let not gold outbuy the Muses,
but love you learned poets;
heap on them no low abuses,
it's folly tempts you to it.
Golden rings are smelted down
while the Muses' ring sounds on.

'From Pelops' shoulder ivory shone,
purple was old Nisus' hair:
such things as these were dead and gone
but that the Muses them still wear.
For that lives on which poets extol
while earth has trees and rivers roll.

'But who's so deafened to the Muses,
purchasing or selling love,
let him suffer these abuses:
through three hundred cities rove,
Follow Idan Ops's chariot,
seek death as Phrygian corpses carry it.

'Venus always has loved poets
with plaintive supplications, tears,
to plead a case before her court;
she never fails to calm their fears.
Ended thus the god's perceptions
which Titia's spouse thinks ill-directions.

'He tells her pay not heed to me
and this precisely she does now;
so that, scorned, I must now be
not a lover but teacher-how.
I'll have a school in my old age
where student lovers will call me sage.

'I will, that is if Titia's mum
and does not blab about my failure.
Spare me, Titia, please stay dumb
and I shall send to you a tailor.
For if you talk, a laughing- stock
I'll be for all my learned talk.'

Transl. Copyright © Michael Smith 2007


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