Triumph of Love
Weary with gazing, yet unsatisfied,
I turned now this way and now that, and saw
Sights time will not suffice me to relate.
My mind was moving on from thought to thought
When it was drawn to two who side by side
Were walking, and together gently weeping.
'Twas their strange dress that made me notice them;
Their foreign speech I could not understand
Until my friend interpreted for me.
And when I knew their names, I went to them
With more assurance: one of them for Rome
Felt friendliness-the other nought but hate.
To one I spoke: "0 noble Masinissa,
For Scipio's sake, and your companion's sake,
Be not offended, prithee, by my words."
Looking at me, he said: "Fain would I know
Who thou mayst be, that so unerringly
Both of my dear affections hast discerned."
"I am not worthy to be known," I said,
"By such a knower: this slight flame of mine
Hath not the power to cast its light so far.
Thy royal fame extends throughout the world,
And binds to thee with the fair bond of love
Folk who have never seen thee, nor shall see.
Now tell me, as ye hope for peace to come
(I pointed to their Leader), who ye are,
Ye twain, who seem to be of wondrous faith."
"Thy tongue, that is so ready with my name,
Proves that thou know'st already who we are,"
Said he, "but I will speak to ease my grief
To that great man so heartily allied
Was I that not e'en Laelius loved him more:
Where.er his banners led, I followed them.
Fortune to him was ever generous,
Yet not beyond the measure of the worth
That filled his soul past all comparison.
After the Roman arms so gloriously
Had spread their victories into the West,
There Love found us and joined us, who are one.
Never was sweeter flame in two hearts lit,
Nor shall be. Nights too few, alas,
Were for our great desires so brief and scarce
(In vain, for us, our solemn marriage vow)
That all the goodly reasons for our love
And the sacred bond itself came soon to nought.
For Scipio-worthier than all the world
With holy words bade us to separate,
Nor could he heed the pity of our sighing.
And though it brought and brings me bitter dole,
Yet virtue shone in him so marvelously
That one is blind who cannot see that sun.
To those who love, high justice is high doom;
And thus the verdict of so great a friend
Stood like a rock to thwart enduring love.
Father in honour, he to me; a son
In love; in years a brother: I obeyed,
With breaking heart and countenance distressed.
So then this dear one came unto her death:
For, being subject to an alien foe,
She chose to die rather than live a slave.
And I of mine own grief was minister,
For she so passionately entreated me
That I, who suffered that she might not suffer,
Sent her the poison -with such sorrowing thought
As she well knows and I remember well,
And thou mayst know, if thou too knowest love.
All my inheritance from my bride was grief:
Herself, and every happiness and hope,
I chose to lose, to keep my faith with her.
But see now if thou findest in this dance
Aught that is worthy of note, for the time is short
And thou hast more to see than the day can show."
O'erwhelmed with pity, thinking of the brief
Time granted to the love of such a pair,
My heart was like to snow that melts i' the sun,
When, as they started on again, I heard:
"This man is friendly in himself, I ween,
Yet for all Romans have I nought but hate."
"Put now thy heart in peace, 0 Sophonisba,
For by our hands the Carthage that was thine
Hath fallen thrice, and will not rise again."
But she replied: "Tell me another tale:
Africa wept; but Rome had little cause
For laughter-as your histories will confess."
Then he who had loved both her and us moved on,
Smiling, with her, amid the mighty throng,
And presently they passed beyond my sight.
As one who travels by a doubtful road
And stops at every step, and looks about
And ponders, hesitant and slow to move,
E' en so the train of lovers made my steps
Unsure and halting: for I sought to know
With what a fire each burned, and how intense.
I saw one to the left and out of line,
Like to a man who something seeks and finds
Wherefrom both shame and joy may come to him.
To give to another man one's own dear spouse:
Oh utmost love, unheard-of courtesy!
So that she too ashamed and joyous seemed
For the exchange: and all three onward moved
Talking together of their cherished loves,
And sighing for the land of Syria.
I went to the three spirits, who together
Were following a pathway of their own,
And to the first I said, "I pray thee, wait!"
Hearing the accents of my Latin speech,
Troubled in countenance, he stayed his steps;
And then, as though perceiving my desire,
He said: "I am Seleucus, and this is
My son Antiochus, who warred with you
But right avails not against greater strength.
And she who is with us was first my wife
And then was his: for lest he die of love
To him I gave her, as in our land I might.
Stratonica she is named; and as thou see'st
We are not divided: by that very sign
Our love is manifest as strong and firm.
She was content to leave me, queen no more;
I to leave my delight; and he his life:
Each thought another far the worthier.
He would have perished in the flower of youth
But for the wisdom of his good physician,
Who understood the cause of his distress.
Loving in silence, he was. near to death
Constrained by love, silently virtuous
Mine was paternal love, that succored him."
These words he spoke: then turned and started on,
Like to a man moved by a new intent,
So quickly that I scarce could say farewell.
After the spirit passed beyond my sight,
Leaving me pensive, I moved onward, sighing,
My heart still meditating on his words,
Until a voice said to me: "Give no more
Heed to this single thought: there is much else
To see, and, as thou know'st, the time is short."
More were the lovers here, captive and bare,
Than all the soldiers Xerxes led to Greece
The host extending farther than my sight.
Of many tongues and many lands they were.
Hardly of one in a thousand did I learn
The name; and of those few my tale shall be.
Perseus was there, from whom
I sought to know Of the Ethiopian maiden whom he loved,
Andromeda, dark of eye and dark of hair.
There the vain lover was who through desire
Of his own mirrored beauty was undone,
Poor only in that he possessed too much
A blossom he became, that bears no fruit,
And she who, loving him, a floating voice
Became, her gentle body turned to stone.
There too was Iphis, quick to his own ill,
Who, loving vainly, hated his own life;
And many more who knew like suffering,
Folk crossed in love who had no wish to live.
Moderns I saw among them, but to tell
Their unrenowned names I will not stay.
Those two were there whom Love companions made
Forever, Ceyx and Halcyone,
Nest-builders by the sea in winter's calm.
Near to these twain I beheld Aesacus
Seeking Hesperia-now on rocky shore,
Now under sea, now flying through mid air.
The cruel daughter of Nisus there I saw,
Swift in her flight; and Atalanta running,
By golden apples vanquished, and the beauty
Of her Hippomenes: his rivals all
Lost both the fateful race and their own lives,
And he alone could boast of victory.
Among these vain and fabled loves I saw
Acis, with Galatea in his arms,
And Polyphemus roaring in his wrath.
I saw the sea-borne Glaucus in the throng
Without her who alone was dear to him,
And heard him name one who had loved too well;
Canens and Picus, erst a Latian king
And now a bird-and she who wrought the change
Left him his name and his fair royal robe.
I saw Egeria weeping; and beheld
Scylla transformed into a rugged rock
That menaces the sea of Sicily;
And her who with a quill in her right hand
Writes as one overwhelmed with desperate grief,
And in her left hand holds the dagger dose;
Pygmalion, with his statue come to life;
And many more whose names had oft been sung
By Helicon and the Castalian spring;
And fair Cydippe, whom an apple won.