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

To the Muse

By Propertius (c. 50–c. 16 B.C.)

Translation of James Cranstoun

’TIS time to traverse Helicon in themes of higher strain,

’Tis time to spur my Thracian steed across a wider plain;

Now I would sing of mighty hosts and deeds of battle done,

And chronicle the Roman fields my general has won;

And if my powers of song should fail—to dare were surely fame:

Enough that I have had the will; no higher praise I claim.

Let hot youth sing the laughing loves—be war the theme of age;

Be war my theme—till now the dream of love has filled my page.

With sober mien and graver brow I now must walk along,

Now on another lyre my Muse essays another song.

Rise, O my Muse! from lowly themes; put on your strength, ye Nine

Who haunt the clear Pierian springs!—outpour the lofty line!


As when we cannot reach the head of statues all too high,

We lay a chaplet at the feet, so now perforce do I;

Unfit to climb the giddy heights of epic song divine,

In humble adoration lay poor incense on thy shrine;

For not as yet my Muse hath known the wells of Ascra’s grove:

Permessus’s gentle wave alone hath laved the limbs of Love.