Morning

A poem by Ovid

Translated by Jon Corelis. Translation © copyright Jon Corelis. Used by permission.

Already over the sea from her old spouse she comes,
the blonde goddess whose frosty wheels bring day.
Why do you hurry, Aurora? Hold off, so may the birds
shed ritual blood each year for Memnon's shade.
Now it's good to lie in my mistress's tender arms;
if ever, now it's good to feel her near.
Now drowsiness is richest, the morning air is cool,
and birds sing shrilly from their tender throats.
Why do you hurry, dreaded by men and dreaded by girls?
Draw back your dewy reins with your crimson hand.
The sailor marks the stars more clearly before you rise,
not raoming aimlessly across the sea;
the traveller, though weary, arises when you come,
and the soldier sets his savage hand to arms;
you're first to see the farmers wield their heavy hoes
and to call slow oxen under the curving yoke;
you rob boys of their sleep and give them over to schools,
where tender hands must bear the savage switch;
and you send reckless fools to pledge themselves in court,
where they take ruinous losses through one word;
the lawyer and the pleader take no delight in you,
for each must rise and wrangle with new torts;
and you ensure that women's chores are never done,
calling the spinner's hands back to her wool.
All this I'd bear; but who would bear that girls must rise
at dawn, unless himself he has no girl?
How many times I've wished Night would not yield to you,
the stars not fade and flee before your face!
How many times I've wished the wind would smash your wheels,
your steeds would stumble on a cloud and fall!
Jealous, why do you hurry? If your son is black,
it's since his mother's heart is that same color.
How I wish Tithonus could still tell tales of you:
no goddess would be more disgraced in heaven.
Since he is endless eons old, you rise and flee
at dawn to the chariot the old man hates,
but if some Cephalus were lying in your arms,
you'd cry out, 'O run slowly, steeds of night! '
Why should this lover pay, if your husband withers with age?
Was I the matchmaker who brought him to you?
Remember how much sleep was given to her loved youth
by Luna - and she's beautiful as you.
The father of gods himself, to see you all the less,
joined two nights into one for his desires.
I'd finished my complaint. You could tell she'd heard: she blushed;
and yet the day rose at its usual time.

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