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II. JOHN LEECH, A SCOTSMAN, THE FIRST PART OF HIS POEMS (1620)
Eroticon, Elegiarum Book II., p. 109.
The third elegy.
Just as amorous Clytie, when the sun hides itself in shadow,
lies mute under all too great a burden of cares,
her head drooping in her grassy bed,
like one whom the death-bringing goddess's shaft has pierced;
not letting her golden hair wander across her brow
but restraining it, in her longing for you, bright Phoebus,
until from earth’s cardinal point of the dawn
you are seen in the chariot that Phaethon drove,
gripping the reins with a strong right hand,
and lighting up all things in every place with your rays.
Then in tuneful notes from little throats
the din of birds is heard, bidding you welcome;
then she too unbinds her hair for you, and lets her locks fall free about her neck, and smiles at your eyes, Apollo.
Just so am I, unless bright, cheerful Love should, with smiling face, place me close
to my lady's threshold, where my eyes drink in the honeyed beauty of her glance,
And I am endowed with the strength to gaze on her eyes’ fire.
When she leaves me, groaning under Love’s harsh burden,
she slays me: my sick mind rejects all doubtful delays,
and in my misery I suffer a thousand stabs from sundry darts:
This one poor heart of mine is wounded by many wounds.
My pale countenance loses its native vital heat,
since my face displays my inward state.
Good hope, for all its efforts, despairs of being able to bind
the wounds which winged Love has inflicted on my heart.
My drooping mind is stupefied, consumed by anxious pain.
My life stands on the banks of the Stygian lakes,
I take no pleasure in neatly trotting my horse round the circuit,
nor in applying my fingers to my lute.
It vexes me that my sweet youth was spent in such games,
and my spirit is crucified by the thought of happy times;
whatever I look at causes me much sharp pain,
and there is no light that can delight my eyes,
for the only light that shone on me, the eyes
of my absent lady, is hidden under a cloud of sorrow
until such time as my Nymph, my Phoebus,
turns her winged feet from her shining star and hastens towards me,
so that ablaze with the caressing splendour of her divine light,
I am snatched from your darkness, o corpse-goddess Libitina.
When she raises her shining head from the golden skies
and begins to drive the steeds of the morning, then languor and wretched cares are banished from my breast,
and I am no longer compelled in my misery to gaze upon the arid ground,
but now I joyfully gaze with unwearied eyes upon the eyes of the maiden I have learned to serve.
When the night of yearning — which seems so long — ,
has openly chosen to flee in haste,
my heart's vigour and my brave mind's fiery strength
call on Hope to raise its limbs from their lowly couch;
Then the inconstancy of dubious fate does not admonish me,
Then no delay at all can hold me back,
Why shall I not arise like a glad, leafy branch into the heavens,
When you bring due nourishment to my stalk?
Do you see how I exult, my hair spread out around my neck?
While I stretch out my arms to embrace your breast?
Do you see how that colour, which should have been that of death,
with purpling honour tints my rosy cheeks?
O long awaited day, and more blessed than the light of any day,
devise a long stay, according to my prayers, I beseech,
stay, I beseech, and may you, who pull on the studded bit,
O Phoebus, go later to bathe in the western waters.
Let me be your Zodiac, you that are my highest pleasure,
That you be looked upon therein more certainly by many eyes .
If you will favour me, you will fill a wretch with the gift of life,
If you flee, this hour will bring me a swift and violent death.
But vain, ah vain all this , since we have scarce time for conversation,
You do not run thus at your own will, O Phoebus:
For the sphere, which moves all things with it in its swift circling
smoothly carries away both you, Apollo, and your fires.
Therefore since the harsh Gods have established these sad things,
nor is it permissible to turn the course of eternal law,
if any care for my wellbeing touches you,
hasten to take the mighty reins in hand again;
And the one thing that remains (for Fate’s hard balance-scale has denied
the rest) is for unwilling me to bid you, my Hope, a sad farewell.
THOMAS DUFF, O. S. B.
CRADLE-SONG ABOUT THE HELIOTROPE,
TO JESUS, THE RISEN SUN, IN HIS MANGER
As the sunflower, burdened with sadness, when the red sun has set, lies
powerless, and without inner life, like one that is ill,
and casts her bent head down to the grass,
while her closed-up blossoms refuse to spread their limbs,
and complains all night that the day is hidden,
until swift Phoebus paints the sky with brilliant
colours and his rosy steeds light the countryside.
Then the many-hued birds fill that hour with harmonious songs,
And a glad Hail! graces their prince’s return.
Whereupon the sunflower sends out her fragrance as she gently rises;
no longer does she bow to the ground and keep her head concealed,
but smiling, she looks on Phoebus, throws open her leaves,
and turns them to follow his chariot as he drives it forward.
Thus it stands with me, sweet Jesu, if I cannot delight
in You, o shining Light of my soul.
If You withdraw Your beauty from me, a thousand wounds
torment me with sundry ills, for my peace is shattered,
and my outward countenance shows the pain
that lacerates my innermost heart,
and hope itself seems to me almost to despair,
until at last Your right hand is held out to help me;
I am trapped, held fast in extreme distress: all pleasures
torment me, my heavy eyes see all things as loathsome,
until Jesus rises like the Sun, full of love,
the One whose grace alone upholds my life.
For when my dejected mind sees Him lying in the icy manger
and sees Him too as the Daystar of Righteousness,
then my longed-for dawn of joy soon rises once again,
the Sun that like a star lights up my soul,
and quickens my mind and rouses hope, almost lulled asleep by sin,
and the shadowy ghosts of the heavy night flee.
If it be granted me to behold Your presence, no
pain, no anxiety can threaten me.
Straight on my high stalk I flourish, You give me strength
and confer glorious foliage, o holy Sun.
Thus my former beauty is restored to its pleasant hue;
Out of Your fire is born our vital heat.
No more shall I bow my head — with face upraised
I rejoice, and in Your radiance I flourish and grow.
O blessed day, o my Redeemer, do not leave me,
my Sun: let not Your chariot wheels bedew You with the waters of the west.
make me Your Zodiac, where I may always enjoy
Your light, because You are my only love.
Your sweet presence gives life to me when dead,
and love of You breaks my heart in two when you are absent.
o my Sun, in vain I long for You to stay.
Stop, o God, Prime Mover, stop Your chariot.
Yet if, alas, o holy Sun, You flee beneath the western shadows,
I bid You sad farewell: but, o Daystar, swiftly bring the day again.