XLIII. AN UNFLATTERING PORTRAIT
My service to you, lady!
Why, your nose is far from small;
Your feet are hardly graceful,
and your eyes aren't black at all,
Your fingers do not taper
and your lips are never dry,
And I never heard such language,
heaven smite me if I lie!
So you, a bankrupt's light o'love,
are thought as chaste and fair
As is my lady Lesbia,
whose charm's beyond compare!
That's what they think in far Provence?
It makes it clear to me
What tasteless, senseless,
witless fools the people there must be!
Poor Catullus! Cease your madness!
Realise that love is dead.
Once your days were gay with gladness
As you followed where she led.
Never will another lady
Know such great abiding love:
In those gardens, cool and shady,
With the bright blue sky above.
Did you voice your burning passion
As you whiled the hours away,
And your lady, in her fashion,
Lured you on, nor said you nay?
Now, her lovely self denying,
Cease to seek her, cease to mourn;
Turn your thought away from dying,
Slave of passion, all forlorn!
Be courageous in your sorrow.
Bear your loss with constant mind.
Haply you will meet to-morrow
Someone else as sweet and kind.
Farewell, Lady! Now your poet,
Strong once more, resumes his task.
He'll not seek you; now you know it,
Nor your languid favours ask!
Some day you'll be sad and lonely -
What remains in life for you?
None will think you lovely - only
Fear the things they know you do.
Who would take the love you offer?
No man's mistress will you be!
And, Catullus, though she proffer
Peace, stand firm in enmity!