Propertius Book III. 25: 1-18
Risus eram positis inter convivia mensis,
et de me poterat quilibet esse loquax.
quinque tibi potui servire fideliter annos:
ungue meam morso saepe querere fidem.
nil moveor lacrimis: ista sum captus ab arte;
semper ab insidiis, Cynthia, flere soles.
flebo ego discedens, sed fletum iniuria vincit:
tu bene conveniens non sinis ire iugum.
limina iam nostris valeant lacrimantia verbis,
nec tamen irata ianua fracta manu.
at te celatis aetas gravis urgeat annis,
et veniat formae ruga sinistra tuae!
vellere tum cupias albos a stirpe capillos,
iam speculo rugas increpitante tibi,
exclusa inque vicem fastus patiare superbos,
et quae fecisti facta queraris anus!
has tibi fatalis cecinit mea pagina diras:
eventum formae disce timere tuae!
Sextus Aurelius Propertius, circa 50-45 b.c to circa 15 b.c)
When they deride me among themselves at the banquet table,
Where the vilest of them gossip, bandying my name about.
You’ll recall those five devoted years of my faithful service,
And chewing your nails, often regret my loss.
Your tears won’t move me, for tears it was ensnared me,
Cynthia – you who never weep but to deceive.
I’ll weep as I depart, though injury exceeds mere grieving,
For the yoke you placed upon my back was never easy.
Farewell threshold, still lamenting my resolution,
The door which suffered no battering at my hand in anger – goodbye as well.
May age bear down on you with all the years you’ve been concealing,
And cruel lines overtake your former loveliness.
May you then wrench your grey hairs by their roots,
And the mirror boldly mock your many wrinkles.
May you in your turn suffer rejection from the haughty,
And when you’re turned to an old woman, may you regret your deeds!
With these dark imprecations my poem will mark you,
And teach you to dread the power your beauty had to wield
Version derived by Dia Tsung from various English translations
tus vecinas; y tú, que los umbrales
solícita y los quicios fatigabas,
menos ya, menos oyes las aldabas,
duermes, Liscica, o lloras envidiosa,
la memoria ocupando en las porfías
luengas de los rivales que traías
en guerra peligrosa.
los mozos, que desprecian con enfado
rosas que desmayó una tarde fría,
y de las que hoy apenas abrió el día
se coronan de grado.
Francesco de Medrano (1570?-1607?) Was a former Jesuit, who died at the age of 37, and whose poems were published posthumously.
Less frequent now the rapping on your shuttered
windows by the insistence of importunate swains:
Neither is your sleep disrupted, nor you made wakeful
by their vexations thus conveyed
to your neighbours and you, by those whom your threshold
tirelessly accosted, wearing out the hinges on your door.
Now wait listening for the knocks that come less and less often
and with nocturnal senses
sleep, Liscisia, or cry with regret
at the memory of nights filled with the insistent
brawls of rivals whom you compelled
to perilous conflict.
when the lads maddeningly disdain
the roses made faint by evening’s chill,
and then proceed to crown themselves to high degree
with those that scarcely opened in the day.
Translation Dia Tsung.
I always feel a little stab of happiness when my mind rummages into its trunk of forgotten treasures and unexpectedly presents to me the disparate things it has managed to find and cobble together by its own devices.
Many years ago I had idly scribbled my version of Propertius 3.25, from line 9 onwards, and stuck it in an old folder. Since then I had given away my copy of Propertius, and I had forgotten about the poem.
Sometime this week I was reading some Spanish poetry when I came across a poem by Francisco Medrano which sounded strangely familiar.
Of course when the connection came to me, I had to go in search of a lost scrap of paper. When after much rummaging I was able to track it down, I discovered that I had made no reference notes to help me find down the original poem! Nor did it help that I had not written the first eight lines.
I found the original poem after many hours spent searching the internet, and I was finally able to put the two poems together, and the two translations together and this is the result.