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ELEGY IX

HE COMPARETH LOVE WITH WAR.

THY lover is a soldier, and Cupid hath his camp. Aye, believe me, Atticus, every lover is a soldier. The age which suiteth war is also favourable to Venus. A fig for an elderly soldier! A fig for an elderly lover! The age which generals demand in a brave soldier is the age which a fair young woman demands in the possessor of her charms. Soldier and lover have, each, their vigil to keep; both couch upon the hard ground; both have their watch to keep, the one at the door of his mistress, the other at the door of his general. What a weary way the soldier hath to march! And the lover, when his mistress is exiled, will follow her, with a stout heart, to the uttermost limits of the world. He will fare over the loftiest mountains and over rivers swollen with rains; he will cleave his way through the snowdrifts. Is he compelled to cross the seas? He will not plead that the tempests are let loose; nor will he wait till the weather be propitious for setting sail. Who but a soldier or a lover will brave the chill nights and the torrents of mingled snow and rain? The one is sent forward as a scout towards the enemy; the other keepeth watch upon his rival as upon a foe. The one lays siege to warlike cities, the other to the dwelling of his inexorable mistress. One beats down gates, the other doors.

Oftentimes it hath brought victory to catch the foe asleep, and to slaughter, sword in hand, an unarmed host. Thus did the fierce battalions of Thracian Rhesus fall and you, ye captured steeds, forsook your lord. So, too, a lover oft is able to profit by the husband's slumbers and to turn his arms against the sleeping foe. To elude the vigilance of watchmen and sentinels is ever the perilous task alike of the soldier and the lover.

Mars is uncertain and in Venus there is nothing sure. The conquered rise up again, and those you would deem could never be o’erthrown, fall in their turn. No longer

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then let love be held a little thing. Love demandeth a resourceful mind. Achilles burns for Briseis torn from his embraces. Trojans, while his grief allows, smite ye the Grecian host. Fresh from Andromache's embraces, Hector went forth to battle. ’Twas his spouse who placed his helmet on his head. When he beheld the daughter of Priam, her tresses floating in the wind, the son of Atreus, the first of all the Grecian chiefs, stood, they say, lost in admiration. Mars himself was caught in the chains which Vulcan had forged. No tale made a greater stir in heaven than this. I myself was slothful and not born for work. My bed and sleep had softened my spirit. But love for a comely young woman set a term to my indolence. She enjoined me to make my first campaign in her service. Since then, thou seest. me ever active and always busy with some nocturnal adventure. Thou wouldst not be a sluggard? Well then, love a woman.