chapter  63
Ovid to Julia. A Letter.
Pages 3

Fair Royal Maid, permit a Youth undone To tell you how he drew his Ruin on; By what degrees he took that Poison in, That made him guilty of Promethius sin; 5 Who from the Gods durst steal Cœlestial fire, And tho with less success, I did as high aspire. Oh why ye Gods! was she of Mortal Race? And why ’twixt her and me, was there so vast a space? Why was she not above my Passion made 10 Some Star in Heaven, or Goddess of the Shade? And yet my haughty Soul cou’d ne’er have bow’d To any Beauty, of the common Crowd. None but the Brow, that did expect a Crown Cou’d Charm or Awe me with a Smile, or Frown; 15 I had the Envy of th’ Arcadian Plains, Sought by the Nymphs, and bow’d to by the Swains; Where I pass’d, I swept the Fields along, And gather’d round me all the gazing throng: In numerous Flocks and Herds I did abound, 20 And when I spread my wanton wishes round, They wanted nothing but my being Crown’d. Yet witness all ye spightful Powers above, If my Ambition did not spring from Love! Had you my Charming Julia been less fair, 25 Less Excellent, less Conqu’ring than you are I had my Glorious Loyalty retain’d, My Noble Blood untainted had remain’d, Witness ye Groves, witness ye Sacred Powers! Ye shaded Rivers Banks, and Beds of Flowers, 30 Where the expecting Nymphs have past their hours. Witness how oft, all careless of their Fame, They languish’d for the Author of their flame, 183And when I came reproach’d my cold reserve; Ask’d for what Nymph I did my Joys preserve? 35 What sighing Maid was next to be undone? For whom I drest, and put my Graces on? And never thought, (tho I feign’d every proof Of tender Passion) that I lov’d enough. While I with Love’s variety was cloy’d; 40 Or the faint pleasure like a Dream injoy’d. ’Twas Julia’s brighter Eyes my soul alone With everlasting gust, could feed upon. From her first bloom my Fate I did pursue, And from the tender fragrant Bud, I knew 45 The Charming Sweets it promis’d, when it Blew. This gave me Love, and ’twas in vain I try’d The Beauty from the Princess to divide; For he at once must feel, whom you inspire, A soft Ambition, and a haughty fire, 50 And Hopes the Natural aid of young desire. My unconsidering Passion had not yet Thought your Illustrious Birth for mine too great, ’Twas Love that I pursu’d, vast Love that leads Sometimes the equall’d slave, to Princes Beds. 55 But I forgot that Sacred Flame must rest In your bright Soul, that makes th’ Adorer blest; Your generous fire alone must you subdue, And raise the Humbler Lover up to you; Yet if by Chance m’ Ambition met a stop, 60 By any thought that check’d m’ advancing hope, This new one straight would all the rest confound, How ev’ry Coxcomb aim’d at being Crown’d; The vain young Fool with all his Mothers parts, (Who wanted wit enough for little Arts,) 65 With Crowds, and unmatch’d nonsense, lays a claim To th’ Glorious title of a Sovereign; And when for Gods such wretched things set up, Was it so great a crime in me to hope? No Laws of Heaven, or Man my Vows reprove; 70 There is no Treason in Ambitious Love. That Sacred Antidote, i’th’ poison’d Cup, Quells the Contagion of each little drop, I bring no Forces, but my sighs and tears, 184My Languishments, my soft complaints and Pray’rs, 75 Artillery which I ne’r sent in vain, Nor [F]ail’ d where e’er address’st, to wound with pain Here, only here! rebated they return, Meeting the sollid Armour of your Scorn; Scorn! By the Gods! I any thing could bear, 80 The Rough Fatigues and Storms of dangerous War; Long Winters Marches, or the Summer heat, [N]ay even in Battel, from the Foe defeat; Scars on my face, Scars, whose dull recompence, Would ne’er attone, for what they rob from thence. 85 Scandal of Coward, nay half witted too, Or siding with the Pardon’d Rebell Crew; Or any thing but scorn,—and yet frown on, Your Slave was destin’d thus to be undone. You the Avenging Deity appear, 90 And I a Victim fall to all the injur’d Fair.