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C.D. Warner, et al., comp. The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

A Grewsome Lover

By Ovid (43 B.C.–18 A.D.)

Translation of John Dryden (see full text)

A PROMONTORY, sharpening by degrees,

Ends in a wedge, and overlooks the seas;

On either side, below, the water flows:

This airy walk the giant lover chose;

Here in the midst he sate; his flocks, unled,

Their shepherd followed, and securely fed.

A pine so burly, and of length so vast,

That sailing ships required it for a mast,

He wielded for a staff, his steps to guide;

But laid it by, his whistle while he tried.

A hundred reeds, of a prodigious growth,

Scarce made a pipe proportioned to his mouth;

Which when he gave it wind, the rocks around,

And watery plains, the dreadful hiss resound.

I heard the ruffian shepherd rudely blow,

Where, in a hollow cave, I sat below;

On Acis’s bosom I my head reclined:

And still preserve the poem in my mind.

“O lovely Galatea, whiter far

Than falling snows and rising lilies are;

More flowery than the meads; as crystal bright;

Erect as alders, and of equal height;

More wanton than a kid; more sleek thy skin

Than Orient shells, that on the shores are seen;

Than apples fairer, when the boughs they lade;

Pleasing as winter suns or summer shade;

More grateful to the sight than goodly plains;

And softer to the touch than down of swans,

Or curds new turned; and sweeter to the taste

Than swelling grapes, that to the vintage haste;

More clear than ice, or running streams that stray

Through garden plots, but, ah! more swift than they.

“Yet, Galatea, harder to be broke

Than bullocks, unreclaimed to bear the yoke;

And far more stubborn than the knotted oak;

Like sliding streams, impossible to hold:

Like them fallacious; like their fountains, cold:

More warping than the willow, to decline

My warm embrace; more brittle than the vine;

Immovable, and fixed in thy disdain;

Rough as these rocks, and of a harder grain;

More violent than is the rising flood;

And the praised peacock is not half so proud;

Fierce as the fire, and sharp as thistles are;

And more outrageous than a mother-bear;

Deaf as the billows to the vows I make,

And more revengeful than a trodden snake;

In swiftness fleeter than the flying hind,

Or driven tempests, or the driving wind.

All other faults with patience I can bear;

But swiftness is the vice I only fear.

“Yet, if you knew me well, you would not shun

My love, but to my wished embraces run;

Would languish in your turn, and court my stay;

And much repent of your unwise delay.

“My palace, in the living rock, is made

By nature’s hand: a spacious pleasing shade,

Which neither heat can pierce, nor cold invade.

My garden filled with fruits you may behold,

And grapes in clusters, imitating gold;

Some blushing bunches of a purple hue,

And these, and those, are all reserved for you.

Red strawberries in shades expecting stand,

Proud to be gathered by so white a hand;

Autumnal cornels later fruit provide,

And plums, to tempt you, turn their glossy side:

Not those of common kinds; but such alone

As in Phæacian orchards might have grown.

Nor chestnuts shall be wanting to your food,

Nor garden fruits, nor wildings of the wood;

The laden boughs for you alone shall bear;

And yours shall be the product of the year.

“The flocks, you see, are all my own; beside

The rest that woods and winding valleys hide,

And those that folded in the caves abide.

Ask not the numbers of my growing store:

Who knows how many, knows he has no more.

Nor will I praise my cattle; trust not me,

But judge yourself, and pass your own decree:

Behold their swelling dugs; the sweepy weight

Of ewes, that sink beneath the milky freight;

In the warm folds their tender lambkins lie;

Apart from kids, that call with human cry.

New milk in nut-brown bowls is duly served

For daily drink; the rest for cheese reserved.

Nor are these household dainties all my store:

The fields and forests will afford us more;

The deer, the hare, the goat, the savage boar;

All sorts of venison; and of birds the best,—

A pair of turtles taken from the nest.

I walked the mountains, and two cubs I found,

Whose dam had left ’em on the naked ground:

So like, that no distinction could be seen;

So pretty, they were presents for a queen;

And so they shall: I took them both away;

And keep, to be companions of your play.

“O raise, fair nymph, your beauteous face above

The waves; nor scorn my presents, and my love.

Come, Galatea, come, and view my face:

I late beheld it in the watery glass,

And found it lovelier than I feared it was.

Survey my towering stature, and my size:

Not Jove, the Jove you dream, that rules the skies,

Bears such a bulk, or is so largely spread.

My locks (the plenteous harvest of my head)

Hang o’er my manly face; and dangling down,

As with a shady grove my shoulders crown.

Nor think, because my limbs and body bear

A thick-set underwood of bristling hair,

My shape deformed: what fouler sight can be

Than the bald branches of a leafless tree?

Foul is the steed without a flowing mane;

And birds, without their feathers and their train.

Wool decks the sheep; and man receives a grace

From bushy limbs and from a bearded face.

My forehead with a single eye is filled,

Round as a ball, and ample as a shield.

The glorious lamp of heaven, the radiant sun,

Is Nature’s eye; and she’s content with one.

Add, that my father sways your seas, and I,

Like you, am of the watery family;

I make you his, in making you my own.

You I adore, and kneel to you alone;

Jove, with his fabled thunder, I despise,

And only fear the lightning of your eyes.

Frown not, fair nymph; yet I could bear to be

Disdained, if others were disdained with me.

But to repulse the Cyclops, and prefer

The love of Acis, heavens! I cannot bear.

But let the stripling please himself; nay more,

Please you, though that’s the thing I most abhor:

The boy shall find, if e’er we cope in fight,

These giant limbs endued with giant might.”