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Why, Venus, why
Bring back these wars long lost?
Stop, I beg, stop.
I’ve changed from who I was
When last I loved.
Good mother of the cupids,
I’m too old now
To stir up love again.
Young boys and girls
Will better flatter you.

Go now to Paulus
on wings of regal swans,
And bring your joy
If you should seek to blaze
A wanting heart.
A boy of many arts,
Noble and decent,
Not shy to speak his mind
He’ll bear your banner.
And he will build for you
A marble statue
Beside the Alban lake
Sheltered by wood
And fit for frankincense
Where lyres and flutes
Might give you some delight.
Two times a day
Young boys and virgin girls
With slender feet
Will praise you with their dance,
Striking the earth
Three times out of custom.

Not girl or boy
Or hopes for special love
Or drinking games
Or garlands ’round my head
Could please me now.
Why should these tears bring pain
All down my cheeks?
How come my tongue falls short
With graceful hush
When I dare try to speak?

I hold you seized
At night when I’m asleep;
I follow you
Flying across the grass
Of Martian camps,
And waters, too, elusive,
I follow you.

Horace, Ode 4.1

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