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OME apology, I feel, is necessary for the follow
ing attempt to fill another niche in the gallery of failures which most of the recent translations from Classical Poetry into English verse have been somewhat unceremoniously styled. The attempt, I fear, is doubly hazardous in the case of a poet remarkable for abrupt transitions, studied peculiarity, if not obscurity, of expression, and displaying in many cases a spirit of pedantry that delights in drawing from obscure Greek traditions totally devoid of interest to modern readers. It is also questionable whether at the present day there is much that can prove attractive in the sentiments of Roman erotic poetry, breathing too often the spirit of a despairing heart, that struggles in vain, as it were, to free itself from the thraldom of an unrequited and unworthy passion, and finally seems to recoil upon itself in self-degradation, when confronted with the dark end to which such loves must always come. But a sentiment, the expression of which in Ovid is simply monotonous and wearisome, in Horace commonplace if not vulgar, and in others something worse, owing to the dignity of thought and greater depth of feeling
which Propertius possessed, seems in him to rise more to the level of intense and ideal love.
Independently of this, I cannot but think that at least by the higher classes in our schools (into whose "curriculum" Ovid, strangely enough, is admitted), the works of Propertius might be read with great profit, both for the interesting archæological details scattered through his pages, and the complete mastery displayed by him over the Elegiac metre, where, without any sacrifice of harmony, an energy and a pathos is preserved which we too often miss in the more monotonous distich of other writers. If the following translations should by chance turn the attention of any to the study of a poet to whose merits posterity seems to do but tardy justice, my object will be accomplished.
It remains for me to add that I have in all cases adopted the text and the explanations of Mr. Paley (to whose book I cannot sufficiently say how I am indebted), because his edition is most amenable to English students, and I conceived the uniform adoption of one to be necessary,
feel dispose to use the following some slight help in elucidating the meaning of the text.
Cynthia prima suis. TWAS 'WAS Cynthia's glance my heart first captive
bore, By tender thoughts of love untouch'd before; 'Twas she first broke my look's unbending pride, And taught love's yoke upon my neck to ride; Till all too soon I learn'd to hate a prude, So stern my teacher, and so wild my mood. A year's long course has run since first I loved, Yet still the Fates have all relentless proved. Milanion play'd, they say, so stout a part, He crush'd the pride of Atalanta's heart. Frenzied with love he ranged th’ Arcadian wood, And roam’d with savage beasts in solitude; Or struck anon by Hylas, at the blow To all the country side he wail'd his woe. Yet the swift maid at length he woo'd and won, Such power have prayers, so much has kindness
done. But the slow God with me no art displays, Nor treads the path he trod in former days.