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

The Immortality of Genius

By Propertius (c. 50–c. 16 B.C.)

Translation of James Cranstoun

ORPHEUS, ’tis said, the Thracian lyre-strings sweeping,

Stayed the swift stream and soothed the savage brute;

Cithæron’s rocks, to Thebes spontaneous leaping,

Rose into walls before Amphion’s lute.

With dripping steeds did Galatea follow,

’Neath Ætna’s crags, lone Polyphemus’s song:

Is’t strange the loved of Bacchus and Apollo

Leads captive with his lay the maiden throng?

Though no Tænarian blocks uphold my dwelling,

Nor ivory panels shine ’tween gilded beams;

No orchards mine Phæacia’s woods excelling,

No chiseled grots where Marcian water streams,—

Yet Song is mine; my strain the heart engages;

Faint from the dance sinks the lithe Muse with me:

O happy maid whose name adorns my pages!

Each lay a lasting monument to thee!

The pyramids that cleave heaven’s jeweled portal;

Eléan Jove’s star-spangled dome; the tomb

Where rich Mausolus sleeps,—are not immortal,

Nor shall escape inevitable doom.

Devouring fire and rains will mar their splendor;

The weight of years will drag the marble down:

Genius alone a name can deathless render,

And round the forehead wreathe the unfading crown.