Cedamus

Sodoma, Cupido in un paesaggio, ca. 1510
Sodoma, Cupido in un paesaggio (ca. 1510)

Esse quid hoc dicam, quod tam mihi dura videntur
strata, neque in lecto pallia nostra sedent,
et vacuus somno noctem, quam longa, peregi,
lassaque versati corporis ossa dolent?
nam, puto, sentirem, si quo temptarer amore.
an subit et tecta callidus arte nocet?
sic erit; haeserunt tenues in corde sagittae,
et possessa ferus pectora versat Amor.
cedimus, an subitum luctando accendimus ignem?
cedamus! leve fit, quod bene fertur, onus.
vidi ego iactatas mota face crescere flammas
et rursus nullo concutiente mori.
verbera plura ferunt, quam quos iuvat usus aratri,
detractant prensi dum iuga prima boves.
asper equus duris contunditur ora lupatis,
frena minus sentit, quisquis ad arma facit.
acrius invitos multoque ferocius urget
quam qui servitium ferre fatentur Amor.
en ego confiteor! tua sum nova praeda, Cupido;
porrigimus victas ad tua iura manus.
(Ovid, Am. 1.2.1-20)

How to say what it’’s like, how hard my mattress
seems, and the sheets won’’t stay on the bed,
and the sleepless nights, so long to endure,
tossing with every weary bone of my body in pain?
But, I think, if desire were attacking me I’’d feel it.
Surely he’’s crept in and skilfully hurt me with secret art.
That’s it: a slender arrow sticks fast in my heart,
and cruel Love lives there, in my conquered breast.
Shall I give in: to go down fighting might bank the fires?
I give in! The burden that’’s carried with grace is lighter.
I’’ve seen the torch that’’s swung about grow brighter
and the still one, on the contrary, quenched.
The oxen that shirk when first seized for the yoke
get more lashes than those that are used to the plough.
The hot steed’’s mouth is bruised from the harsh curb,
the one that’’s been in harness, feels reins less.
Love oppresses reluctant lovers more harshly and insolently
than those who acknowledge they’’ll bear his slavery.
Look I confess! Cupid, I’’m your latest prize:
stretching out conquered arms towards your justice.
(tr. Tony Kline)

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