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ELEGY III

HE COMMENDS HIMSELF TO HIS MISTRESS BY THE MERITS OF HIS POETRY, THE PURITY OF HIS MORALS, AND BY THE VOW OF HIS UNCHANGEABLE FIDELITY.

My prayer is just: let the fair one who has so lately captivated my heart love me ever, or so act that I shall love her ever. Nay, but ’tis too much I ask! Only let her suffer herself to be loved. May Cytherea incline her ear to all my prayers. Vouchsafe thy favours to a lover who swears that he will serve thee through the years, who knows how to love with pure and lasting fidelity. If I have no long line of famous ancestors to recommend me, if the founder of our family is but a simple Knight; if innumerable ploughs be not required to till my fields; if my father and mother are constrained to husband our resources, at least let Apollo and his choir the Nine, and the discoverer of the vine, plead with thee in my behalf and Love who gives me unto thee, and faith that shall fail not, irreproachable morals, guileless sincerity and modesty that knows how to blush. I am none of those who love a hundred women at a time; I am no fickle philanderer. Thou and only thou, believe me, wilt ever be beloved by me. Whatsoever the tale of years the fates may spin for me, I will pass them at thy side, and, dying, be lamented by thee.

Vouchsafe to be the joyful subject of my song, and my songs shall be worthy their theme. ’Twas poesy that gave renown to the nymph Io, affrighted at her horns, and to the fair Leda whom the divine adulterer seduced by taking on the semblance of a swan, and to Europa who, carried off by a fictitious bull, traversed the sea, grasping in her virgin hands the wide horns of her captor. We too shall be sung throughout the world, and ever my name shall be united with thine own.