Home  »  library  »  poem  »  To Cynthia

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

To Cynthia

By Propertius (c. 50–c. 16 B.C.)

Translation of James Cranstoun

SINCE from my love I had the heart to flee,

Justly to halcyons lone my wail I pour;

No more Cassiope my bark will see,

And all my vows fall fruitless on the shore.

The winds are leagued for thee now far away;

Hark to the threatening tempest’s fitful gust!

Will no kind fortune this dread storm allay?

Must a few grains of sand conceal my dust?

Oh, let no more thy harsh upbraidings rise,

But say this night at sea my fault atones!

Or canst thou paint my fate with tearless eyes,

Nor in thy bosom bear to hold my bones?

Ah! perish he who first, with impious art,

In sail-rigged craft dared tempt the unwilling sea!

’Twere better I had soothed my mistress’s heart—

Hard though she was, how peerless still to me!—

Than view this wild and forest-mantled shore,

And woo the longed-for Twins that calm the wave.

Then earth had veiled my woes, life’s fever o’er,

And some small stone—love’s tribute—marked my grave.

For me she might have shorn her cherished hair;

’Mid sweet-breath’d roses laid my bones at rest;

Called o’er my dust my name, and breathed a prayer

That earth might lightly lie upon my breast.

Fair Doris’s daughters, who o’er ocean roam,

Speed our white sails with your auspicious band!

And oh, if Love e’er sought your azure home,

Grant one who loved like you, a sheltered strand!