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

Claudius Claudianus (c. 370–404): The Bereavement of Ceres

By Roman Poets of the Later Empire

From the ‘Rape of Proserpine’: Translation of Harriet Waters Preston

ALL in terror, in hope no more, as the mother of nestlings

Fears for her tender young, in the rowan sapling deserted,

Fears while she seeks their food, and wearies again to be with them;

Trembling lest the wind may have smitten the nest from the bough, or

Cruel man have slain, or the fang of the ravening serpent,—

So she came again to her lonesome dwelling unguarded.

Wide on their idle hinges yawned the doors, and, beholding

All the silent space of the empty hall, in her anguish,

Rent she her robes, and tore the bearded wheat from her tresses.

Never a tear nor a word had she, for the breath of her nostrils

Barely went and came, and she shivered in every member.

Then upon quaking feet, and closing the portal behind her,

Passed within, and on through the lorn and sorrowful chambers,

Found the loom with its trailing web and intricate skein, and

Read with a failing heart the woven story unfinished.

Vain that gracious labor now! and the insolent spider

Busily spinning among the threads his texture unholy!

Never a tear nor a moan; but she fell with kisses unnumbered

Upon the woven stuff, and the sob of her gathering passion

Choked with the useless thread: then pressed to her bosom maternal,

As it had been the maid herself, the delicate shuttle

Smooth from her hand, and the fallen wool, and the virginal trifles

Of her delight; surveyed the seats where she loved to linger,

Leaned o’er the spotless couch, and touched the pillow forsaken.