Propertius Elegy I.18: Grief in Woods from Cynthia’s Arrogance

Propertius Elegy I. 18

Translated by Steven J. Willett

This is surely a deserted place and taciturn of grief,

and Zephyr’s breeze retains an empty grove.

Here it’s allowed to open covered pains with impunity

if only desolate rocks can master trust.

Where might I first seek again, my Cynthia, your arrogance?

What start of weeping, Cynthia, give you me?

Who once was counted among the auspicious lovers

now in your love I’m shrunk to own a scrap.

Why’d I deserve such? What poem of mine alters you?

Is a new girl the cause of your dejection?

If so, scurry back, nimble, since no other girl across my

threshold has roved with any lovely feet.

This grief of mine owes so very much bitterness to you,

yet not so long my savage rage will come,

that (despite your merit) I’m always furious, your wailing

sullied with foul light in all the tears.

Or is it because I give such little sign of altered color,

and in my voice no shouting any trust?

You will be honest witnesses, if a tree has any loves,

a beech and pine dear to Arcadian god.

How often resound my words under mellow shadows,

and Cynthia engraved across your bark!

Or because your injury has sprouted cares on us?

I trained myself, faint-hearted, to endure your insolent

commands and not with proven grief complain.

For which are divine fountain streams and frigid grottoes,

but get just callous peace on overgrown paths.

Whatever my complaints are strong enough to narrate,

I’m forced, alone, to tell the shrilling birds.

But however you may be, let woods resound ‘Cynthia’ to me,

and lonely rocks not vacant of your name.

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One Response to Propertius Elegy I.18: Grief in Woods from Cynthia’s Arrogance

  1. akaPatience says:

    Beautiful poem, thank you – and welcome back Mr. Willett.

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