Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, HOMAGE TO SEXTUS PROPERTIUS: 3, by EZRA POUND



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HOMAGE TO SEXTUS PROPERTIUS: 3, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Midnight, and a letter comes to me from our mistress
Last Line: At any rate I shall not have my epitaph in a high road.
Subject(s): Propertius, Sextus (50-15 B.c.)


Midnight, and a letter comes to me from our mistress:
Telling me to come to Tibur:
At once!!
"Bright tips reach up from twin towers,
Anienan spring water falls into flat-spread pools."

What is to be done about it?
Shall I entrust myself to entangled shadows,
Where bold hands may do violence to my person?

Yet if I postpone my obedience
because of this respectable terror,
I shall be prey to lamentations worse than a nocturnal assailant.
And I shall be in the wrong,
and it will last a twelve month,
For her hands have no kindness me-ward,

Nor is there anyone to whom lovers are not sacred at midnight
And in the Via Sciro.
If any man would be a lover
he may walk on the Scythian coast,
No barbarism would go to the extent of doing him harm,
The moon will carry his candle,
the stars will point out the stumbles,
Cupid will carry lighted torches before him
and keep mad dogs off his ankles.
Thus all roads are perfectly safe
and at any hour;
Who so indecorous as shed the pure gore of a suitor?!
Cypris is his cicerone.
What if undertakers follow my track,
such a death is worth dying.
She would bring frankincense and wreaths to my tomb,
She would sit like an ornament on my pyre.

Gods' aid, let not my bones lie in a public location
With crowds too assiduous in their crossing of it;
For thus are tombs of lovers most desecrated.

May a woody and sequestered place cover me with its foliage
Or may I inter beneath the hummock
of some as yet uncatalogued sand;
At any rate I shall not have my epitaph in a high road.





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