Horace’s Donec Gratus Eram

(Translated by Alan McNicoll, 1979)

“So long as I was dear to you, my love,
And no more favoured lad called you his own
And clasped your whiteness in his arms, I throve
More blessed than the Persian on his throne.”

“And while you burned for no one more than me,
And Chloë was than Lydia less dear,
I, Lydia, walked forth in majesty
And Ilia of Rome was not my peer.”

“‘Tis Thracian Chloë now who rules my heart,
Learned in measures sweet, and skilled to play:
And if the Fates would spare her, for my part
Gladly for hers I’d give my life away.”

“For Calaïs, Ornytus’ son, am I
Consumed by fires of love, and as I live
He loves me too. But were I twice to die,
The forfeit would be paid could he survive.”

“What if our love return, and clasp us twain
In yoke of brass; if golden Chloë spurned
Forever go from me, and once again
The door stand wide to Lydia returned?”

“Though you are light as air; wild as the sea,
And he is fairer than the stars, yet I
Forever at your side would choose to be —
And gladly would I live, and gladly die.”

(Not included in Horace’s Donec Gratus Eram: A Collection of Translations)