from "DELIA" II A PLEA TO DELIA
Albius Tibullustr. A. S. Kline
Adde merum vinoque novos conpesce dolores,
Occupet ut fessi lumina victa sopor,
Neu quisquam multo percussum tempora baccho
Excitet, infelix dum requiescit amor.
Nam posita est nostrae custodia saeva puellae,
Clauditur et dura ianua firma sera.
Ianua difficilis domini, te verberet imber,
Te Iovis imperio fulmina missa petant.
Ianua, iam pateas uni mihi, victa querelis,
Neu furtim verso cardine aperta sones.
Et mala siqua tibi dixit dementia nostra,
Ignoscas: capiti sint precor illa meo.
Te meminisse decet, quae plurima voce peregi
Supplice, cum posti florida serta darem.
Tu quoque ne timide custodes, Delia, falle,
Audendum est: fortes adiuvat ipsa Venus.
Illa favet, seu quis iuvenis nova limina temptat,
Seu reserat fixo dente puella fores;
Illa docet molli furtim derepere lecto,
Illa pedem nullo ponere posse sono,
Illa viro coram nutus conferre loquaces
Blandaque conpositis abdere verba notis.
Nec docet hoc omnes, sed quos nec inertia tardat
Nec vetat obscura surgere nocte timor.
En ego cum tenebris tota vagor anxius urbe,
* * *
Nec sinit occurrat quisquam, qui corpora ferro
Volneret aut rapta praemia veste petat.
Quisquis amore tenetur, eat tutusque sacerque
Qualibet: insidias non timuisse decet.
Non mihi pigra nocent hibernae frigora noctis,
Non mihi, cum multa decidit imber aqua.
Non labor hic laedit, reseret modo Delia postes
Et vocet ad digiti me taciturna sonum.
Parcite luminibus, seu vir seu femina fiat
Obvia: celari volt sua furta Venus.
Neu strepitu terrete pedum neu quaerite nomen
Neu prope fulgenti lumina ferte face.
Siquis et inprudens adspexerit, occulat ille
Perque deos omnes se meminisse neget:
Nam fuerit quicumque loquax, is sanguine natam,
Is Venerem e rapido sentiet esse mari.
Nec tamen huic credet coniunx tuus, ut mihi verax
Pollicita est magico saga ministerio.
Hanc ego de caelo ducentem sidera vidi,
Fluminis haec rapidi carmine vertit iter,
Haec cantu finditque solum Manesque sepulcris
Elicit et tepido devocat ossa rogo;
Iam tenet infernas magico stridore catervas,
Iam iubet adspersas lacte referre pedem.
Cum libet, haec tristi depellit nubila caelo,
Cum libet, aestivo convocat orbe nives.
Sola tenere malas Medeae dicitur herbas,
Sola feros Hecates perdomuisse canes.
Haec mihi conposuit cantus, quis fallere posses:
Ter cane, ter dictis despue carminibus.
Ille nihil poterit de nobis credere cuiquam,
Non sibi, si in molli viderit ipse toro.
Tu tamen abstineas aliis: nam cetera cernet
Omnia, de me uno sentiet ipse nihil.
Quid, credam? nempe haec eadem se dixit amores
Cantibus aut herbis solvere posse meos,
Et me lustravit taedis, et nocte serena
Concidit ad magicos hostia pulla deos.
Non ego, totus abesset amor, sed mutuus esset,
Orabam, nec te posse carere velim.
Ferreus ille fuit, qui, te cum posset habere,
Maluerit praedas stultus et arma sequi.
Ille licet Cilicum victas agat ante catervas,
Ponat et in capto Martia castra solo,
Totus et argento contextus, totus et auro
Insideat celeri conspiciendus equo,
Ipse boves mea si tecum modo Delia possim
Iungere et in solito pascere monte pecus,
Et te, dum liceat, teneris retinere lacertis,
Mollis et inculta sit mihi somnus humo.
Quid Tyrio recubare toro sine amore secundo
Prodest, cum fletu nox vigilanda venit?
Nam neque tum plumae nec stragula picta soporem
Nec sonitus placidae ducere posset aquae.
Num Veneris magnae violavi numina verbo,
Et mea nunc poenas inpia lingua luit?
Num feror incestus sedes adiisse deorum
Sertaque de sanctis deripuisse focis?
Non ego, si merui, dubitem procumbere templis
Et dare sacratis oscula liminibus,
Non ego tellurem genibus perrepere supplex
Et miserum sancto tundere poste caput.
At tu, qui laetus rides mala nostra, caveto
Mox tibi: non uni saeviet usque deus.
Vidi ego, qui iuvenum miseros lusisset amores,
Post Veneris vinclis subdere colla senem
Et sibi blanditias tremula conponere voce
Et manibus canas fingere velle comas,
Stare nec ante fores puduit caraeve puellae
Ancillam medio detinuisse foro.
Hunc puer, hunc iuvenis turba circumterit arta,
Despuit in molles et sibi quisque sinus.
At mihi parce, Venus: semper tibi dedita servit
Mens mea: quid messes uris acerba tuas?
More wine: and let new pain be lessened
by the grape, so that sleep might quell my weary eyes:
and let no one stir my mind numbed with drink
while wretched love is fast asleep.
For a savage guardís been set upon my girl
and the harsh door shut fast with a solid bolt.
Door, of a surly master, may the rain beat on you,
and lightning hurled on Jupiterís orders find you out.
Door, open now, conquered by my complaints alone,
and no sound as you open, turned on a stealthy hinge.
And if my mad passion has ever spoken ill of you
forgive: I pray it might fall on my own head.
Itís fitting you should remember what I said many times,
as a suppliant, setting flowery garlands on your posts.
You too, Delia, donít be shy at deceiving the guard.
Be daring: Venus herself assists the brave.
She favours the youth who tries out a new threshold
or the girl who unfastens the door, with the piercing prong:
She teaches how one creeps secretly from a soft bed,
she teaches how to place a foot without a sound,
she assigns speaking gestures in a husbandís presence,
and hides words of flattery in unassuming signs.
Not teaching all, but those whom no idleness delays
and whom no fear inhibits from rising at dead of night.
Look, as I wander anxiously through the city in the dark,
Venus ensures my safety in the darkness,
she lets no one attack me who might wound my body,
with his blade, or try and make a prize of my clothes.
Whoeverís possessed by love goes safe and holy
wherever he will: he should fear no ambush at all.
The numbing cold of a winterís night brings me no harm
nor the rain showering its vast waters on me.
This labour wonít hurt me, if only Delia unlocks the door
and calls me silently with the sound of her tapping.
Hide your eyes, man or woman whom we meet with:
Venus wants her thefts to be concealed.
Donít startle us with clattering feet or ask our names,
nor bring the light of glowing torches near us.
If anyone has seen us unawares, let him hide it,
and deny by all the gods that he remembers.
Since if any turns informer, heíll find Venus
is the child of blood and angry seas.
Still, your husband wonít believe them, the truthful witch
promised me that, with her magic rites.
Iíve seen her drawing stars down from the sky:
her chant turns back the course of the flowing river.
her spells split the ground, conjure ghosts from the tomb
and summon dead bones from the glowing funeral pyre:
now she holds the infernal crew with magic hissing,
now sprinkling milk orders them to retreat.
As she wishes, she dispels the cloud from the sombre sky:
as she wishes, calls up snows to a summer world.
They say she alone possesses Medeaís fatal herbs,
only she has fully tamed the savage hounds of Hecate.
She composed a spell for me, that you can deceive with:
chant it three times, spit three times when youíve done.
Then heíll not be able to believe anyone about us,
not even himself if he saw us in your soft bed.
Still you must keep away from others: since heíll see
all the rest: itís only me heíll see nothing of!
What? Do I believe? Surely sheís the same who said
she could dissolve my love with herbs or charms,
and purified me with torches, and in the calm of night
a mournful sacrifice fell to the gods of sorcery.
I didnít pray that my love should wholly vanish, but that
it might be shared, Iíd not wish to be without you if I could.
That man was iron, who when he could have had you,
stupidly preferred to chase after war and prizes.
Let him drive Ciliciaís conquered crew before him,
and pitch his camp of war on captured soil,
let him sit his swift horse, to be gazed at,
covered all in silver, covered all in gold:
if only I might yoke the oxen with you Delia,
and feed the flocks on the usual mount,
and while I may hold you in my tender arms,
let soft sleep indeed be mine on the harsh earth.
What use to lie on a Tyrian bed, without loveís favours,
if night comes with wakefulness and weeping?
Since then no feather pillows, no embroidered covers,
no sound of soothing waters brings repose.
Have I wronged the divinity of mighty Venus with words,
and does my impious tongue now pay the penalty?
Can they say now Iíve sinfully entered the divine sanctuary
and snatched the garland from the holy altar?
I wonít hesitate, if Iím guilty, to kneel in her temple,
and grant her kisses on her sacred threshold,
to crawl on my knees, a suppliant, over the ground
and beat my wretched head against the sacred door.
But you, who laugh indifferent to my suffering, must soon
take care yourself: gods do not rage at one alone, forever.
I have seen one who ridiculed the miseries of young love
bow his aged neck later in Venusís harness,
and compose blandishments himself in a quavering voice,
and seek to dress his white hair with his own hands:
and not be ashamed to stand before his dear girlís door,
and stop her maid in the middle of the forum.
Around him young men and boys crowded closely,
and each one spat in his own tender breast.
But spare me, Venus: my devoted heart always serves you:
why in your bitterness burn your own harvest?

Transl. Copyright © A. S. Kline 2001


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