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If she pleases one man a girl has enough refinement: and Phoebus grants, to you above all, his gifts of song, and Calliope , gladly, her Aonian lyre, and your happy words never lack unique grace, all that Minerva and Venus approve of. If only those wretched luxuries wearied you, you would always be dearest to my life for these. Now I freed the garlands from my forehead, and set them on your temples: now I delighted in playing with your loose hair, furtively slipping apples into your open hands, bestowing every gift on your ungrateful sleep, repeated gifts breathed from my bowed body.

And whenever you, stirring, gave an infrequent sigh, I was transfixed, believing false omens, some vision bringing you strange fears, or another forced you to be his, against your will. At last the moon, gliding by distant windows, the busy moon with lingering light, opened her closed eyes, with its tender rays.

Alas for me, where have you spent the long hours of this night, that was mine, you, worn out now, as the stars are put away? O you, cruel to me in my misery, I wish you the same long-drawn out nights as those you endlessly offer to me. That was my last care, amongst my tears. Why do you urge me to alter, and leave my mistress, Bassus , praising so many lovely girls to me? Why not allow me to spend the rest of my life in increasingly familiar slavery? Still less would she be slighted, or thought less, by severe critics, if she were compared with inferior forms.

The more you try to weaken our love, the more both disappoint with acknowledged loyalty. You will not escape with impunity: the furious girl will know of it, and will be an enemy to you with no unquiet voice. Cynthia will no longer look for you after this, nor entrust me to you.

She will remember such crimes, and angrily denounce you amongst all the other girls: alas, you will be loved on never a threshold. She will slight no altar of her tears, no stone, wherever it may be, and however sacred. No loss hurts Cynthia so deeply as when the god is absent, love snatched away from her: above all mine.

Let her always be so, I pray, and let me never discover cause in her for lament. Envious man, quiet your irksome cries at last, and let us travel the path we are on, as one! What do you wish for, madman: to feel my passions?

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Unhappy man, you are hastening to know the deepest hurt, and set your footsteps on hidden fires, and drink all the poisons of Thessaly. She is not like the fickle girls you collect: she is not used to being angered mildly. Even if, by chance, she does not reject your prayers, how many thousand cares she will bring you! Ah, how often, scorned, you will run to my door, your brave words turning to sobbing, a trembling ague of bitter tears descending, fear tracing its hideous lines on your face, and whatever words you wish to say, lost in your moaning, you, you wretch, no longer able to know who or where you are.

Your high birth will do you no good in love. Love does not yield to ancient faces.


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But if you show the smallest sign of guilt, how quickly your good name will be hearsay! So stop asking what my Cynthia can do, Gallus , she does not come without punishment to those who ask. All night she goes on about passion, and complains there are no gods, if she is forsaken. Let that Boy never burden you with my labours, and all the marks of my tears! Let me, whom Fate always wished to level, give up this life to utter worthlessness.

Many have been lost, willingly, in wearisome love: earth buries me also among that number. This the way of life I suffer, this is my fame. Let my only praise be that I pleased a learned maid, Ponticus, and often bore with her unjust threats. Let scorned lovers, after me, read my words with care, and benefit from knowing my ills. Love come late will not fill your song.

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Love that comes late often charges a high rate. Are you mad, then, that my anxiety does not stop you? Am I less to you than chilly Illyria? Can you hear the roar of the furious seas unmoved, and lie down on hard planks; tread the hoarfrost under your tender feet? Cynthia , can you bear unaccustomed snow? Oh, I wish that the days till the winter solstice were doubled, and the Pleiades delayed, the sailors sitting idle, the ropes be never loosed from the Tyrrhenian shore, and the hostile breezes not blow my prayers away! Yet may I never see such winds drop when your boat puts off, and the waves carry it onwards, leaving me rooted to the desolate strand, repeatedly crying out your cruelty with clenched fist.

She is here! She stays, she promised! Let eager Envy relinquish its illusory joy. My Cynthia has ceased to travel strange roads. I could not dissuade her from it with gold or Indian pearls, but by the service of flattering song. I rely, like this, on the Muses in love, nor is Apollo slow to help lovers. Cynthia, the rare, is mine!

No rival steals my certain love from me: this glory will crown my old age. A service of pain and tears has made me an expert: though I wish I could leave it, be called an innocent in love! Gentle Love seeks sweet songs. I beg you, go, put away those serious books, and sing what every girl wishes to know!

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Yet you, you madman, look for water mid-river. You are still not pale, even, truly untouched by the fire: this is the first spark of the evil to come. Then you will prefer to go near Armenian tigers, or know the bonds of the infernal wheel, than feel the frequent darts of the Boy in your marrow, and be powerless to deny your angry one a single thing. Love grants no one an easy passage, without pushing them back with either hand.


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  8. Whoever you are, run from endless charms! Flint and oak might give in to them, much less you, yourself a frail spirit. So, if there is honour, confess your error as soon as you can. In love it often helps to say who it is you die for. O sweet dream, when I saw your first love: witness, there, to your tears! Though sleep pressed on my weary lids, and the Moon blushed, drawn through mid-heaven, I still could not draw back from your play, there was so much ardour in your exchanges.

    But, since you were not afraid to let me, accept your reward for the joy of trust. Is there a place where the least of love remains?

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    Has some unknown rival, with false pretences of passion, drawn Cynthia away from my songs? Away from watching eyes a girl slips into faithlessness, not remembering the gods we share. Not because your reputation is not well known to me, but that in that place every desire is to be feared. So, forgive me if my writings have brought you annoyance: my fears are to blame. I do not watch over my mother now with greater care, nor without you have I any care for my life. You are my only home, my only parents, Cynthia: you, every moment of my happiness. I pleased once: at that time there was no one to touch us who could compare for loyalty in love.

    We were envied.


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    Surely a god overwhelmed me, or some herb picked from Promethean mountains shattered our bond? I am not who I was: distant journeys alter girls.