Pastor Cum

A poem by Adam Lindsay Gordon

Translation from Horace


When he, that shepherd false, ’neath Phrygian sails,
Carried his hostess Helen o’er the seas,
In fitful slumber Nereus hush’d the gales,
That he might sing their future destinies.
A curse to your ancestral home you take
With her, whom Greece, with many a soldier bold
Shall seek again, in concert sworn to break
Your nuptial ties and Priam’s kingdom old.
Alas! what sweat from man and horse must flow,
What devastation to the Trojan realm
You carry, even now doth Pallas show
Her wrath, preparing buckler, car, and helm.
In vain, secure in Aphrodite’s care,
You comb your locks, and on the girlish lyre
Select the strains most pleasant to the fair;
In vain, on couch reclining, you desire
To shun the darts that threaten, and the thrust
Of Cretan lance, the battle’s wild turmoil,
And Ajax swift to follow, in the dust
Condemned, though late, your wanton curls to soil.
Ah! see you not where (fatal to your race)
Laertes’ son comes with the Pylean sage;
Fearless alike, with Teucer joins the chase
Stenelaus, skill’d the fistic strife to wage,
Nor less expert the fiery steeds to quell;
And Meriones, you must know. Behold
A warrior, than his sire more fierce and fell,
To find you rages, Diomed the bold,
Whom like the stag that, far across the vale,
The wolf being seen, no herbage can allure,
So fly you, panting sorely, dastard pale!
Not thus you boasted to your paramour.
Achilles’ anger for a space defers
The day of wrath to Troy and Trojan dame;
Inevitable glide the allotted years,
And Dardan roofs must waste in Argive flame.

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