Propertius 1.3

As with Thessalian ship fleeing, languid
Ariadne lay on deserted shores;
And as Cepheid Andromeda succumbed to
First sleep, nor freed from harsh rocks;
No less than as, tired from endless dance,
A Bacchant falls asleep in Apidanan grass,
Even so Cynthia seemed to me to breathe gentle,
Quiet, head rested on shaking hands
When I would drag my feet, drunk with much
Wine and slaves shake torches in the late night.
I, moreover, not yet robbed of all sense, am urged
To go softly to her on laid-on couch.
And they command me–Amor here, Liber here–
Each a hard god–seized with duplicitous lust
To softly disturb her, arm raised,
And to take kisses and arms with moved hand.
Nor at length did I dare disturb the quiet of my mistress,
Fearing the rebukes of her expert savagery;
But thus clung, stuck with intent eyes,
As Argus saw Io with her unnatural horns.
And now I loose garland from my forehead,
And place it upon your temples, Cynthia;
Now secretly I give apples to empty hands;
I give all gifts to ungrateful sleep,
Gifts often fallen from sidelong pocket;
And as often as you have sighed with rare movement,
I have stood struck, believing in a false sign,
Lest any things seen brought you unwanted fear,
Or lest someone compelled her, unwilling, to be with him:
All the while the moon runs past many windows,
The moon busy with tarrying lights,
Opens closed eyes with gentle rays.
Thus she speaks, propped with elbow on soft bed:
‘At last, bearing yourself to my bed, have the
Insults of another expelled you from closed doors?
For where have you taken up such time of my night,–
Ah, me!–tired from rotating heavens?
O would that you would, wicked one, lead such
Nights as those which you always force me to have!
For First I deceived sleep with purple thread,
And then, tired, with song of Orphean lyre;
All the while I, alone, lamented to myself
Your oft-long delays in other love:
Then sleep overcame me, fallen into its soft wings.
That was the last care for my tears!’


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