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0 "[Gratia magna]" 1 Explanatory Skip to next line
Title/Paratext] "[Prose translation by J. R. [...]" H.W. Starr/J.R. Hendrickson, 1966.
"[Prose translation by J. R. Hendrickson:]
Much gratitude to your deceit, Nice, because haughty Venus no longer holds dominion in my heart: I, who used to be so wretched, can breathe at last; at last you can see my chains hung on the temple wall. No longer am I on fire; I am free: believe me, not a single spark of love lurks buried in the deceptive ashes: here is no anger for love to use as a cloak to hide itself; it has come late, but even the peace of mind that I used to know has returned, although with difficulty, and, if perchance your name reaches my ears, neither pallor nor its opposite, blushing redness, rises in my face; my pounding heart does not tremble with unsteady beats, nor does the flowing tear furtively furrow my cheeks. Your image no longer keeps floating through my dreams, nor are you any longer the first to come into my mind in the morning.
I speak of you; but the tender emotion that I once felt is silent in my heart, and I no longer rejoice because you are with me, nor do I grieve because you are not. Without complaint I endure the fact that another has taken my place; why, I can even praise your ivory neck and your hands with complete detachment.
I do not rehearse with anger the long list of broken vows: when you cross my path, my mind remains firmly fixed in its seat, nor does my colour change. For all I care, you may smile invitingly or put on a look of disdain: when you scorn me, I scorn you, but I do not desire you even when you are in a yielding mood. The penetrating lightning of your eyes cannot, as once it did, travel the pathways—too easily open, alas!—of my breast. Your lips are not so red and sweet, my dear, that they can make me forget your imperious rule.
I can rejoice and I can be sorrowful; but my joys do not come from you, nor do my tears. With you, moreover, too-hot suns and wintry chills alike were always causing pain; without you, it is spring, and fields and grove are pleasing.
To be sure, your face seems beautiful, but not yours alone (perchance I may give offence with my blunt country speech), but I find something unpleasing in the very part where only a while ago a special charm seemed to dwell.
When I first tore the deadly shaft from the wound, I thought, to confess the truth, that I was pulling out my very bowels with it. As I struggled (I am ashamed to say) sighs tore my heart, and many a tear stained my reluctant cheeks. The medicine was bitter that cured my deep-seated madness; the pain was cruel, but love was more cruel. Thus a bird, caught by the traps and sticky reed of a fowler, breaks its bonds with a mighty effort: in a little while it repairs the damaged beauty of its feathers, and, made more cautious by its experience, it does not fall into similar traps.
You, however, imagine that the old flame is still burning and that I am making a clumsy effort to conceal the old passions, because I am making such a show of my freedom and my broken chain, and so loud a sound of unaccustomed peace is on my lips.
Nature loves to remember pains that have passed away; everyone takes pleasure in telling of the dangers that he has undergone: the soldier recounts his wounds; the sailor speaks of winds and rocks deadly to a careless ship. So I my cruel bondage and the power you once had. My words, Nice, make no effort to seek belief from you; these verses that I have sent have no particular wish to please you, nor do I care how you look when you read about your disgraceful acts."
- The Complete Poems of Thomas Gray: English, Latin and Greek. Edited by Herbert W. Starr and J. R. Hendrickson. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1966.
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