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Pervigilium Veneris, the Vigil of Venus, is a short Latin poem. The author, date, and place of composition are unknown.
Blackwood's translation (1843)
- He that never loved before,
Let him love to-morrow!
He that hath loved o'er and o'er,
Let him love to-morrow!
- Opening refrain.
- Spring, young Spring, with song and mirth,
Spring is on the newborn earth.
Spring is here, the time of love —
The merry birds pair in the grove,
And the green trees hang their tresses,
Loosen'd by the rain's caresses.
Tomorrow sees the dawn of May,
When Venus will her sceptre sway,
Glorious, in her justice-hall:
There where woodland shadows fall,
On bowers of myrtle intertwined,
Many a band of love she'll bind.
- Tomorrow is the day when first
From the foam-world of Ocean burst,
Like one of his own waves, the bright
Dione, queen of love and light,
Amid the sea-gods' azure train,
'Mid the strange horses of the main.
- She it is that lends the hours
Their crimson glow, their jewel-flowers:
At her command the buds are seen,
Where the west-wind's breath hath been,
To swell within their dwellings green.
She abroad those dewdrops flings,
Dew that night's cool softness brings;
How the bright tears hang declining,
And glisten with a tremulous shining,
Almost of weight to drop away,
And yet too light to leave the spray.
- Hence the tender plants are bold
Their blushing petals to unfold:
'Tis that dew, which through the air
Falls from heaven when night is fair,
That unbinds the moist green vest
From the floweret's maiden breast.
'Tis Venus' will, when morning glows,
'Twill be the bridal of each rose.
Then the bride-flower shall reveal,
What her veil cloth now conceal,
The blush divinest, which of yore
She caught from Venus' trickling gore,
With Love's kisses mix'd, I trow,
With blaze of fire, and rubies' glow,
And with many a crimson ray
Stolen from the birth of day.
- All the nymphs the Queen of Love
Summons to the myrtle-grove;
And see ye, how her wanton boy
Comes with them to share our joy?
Yet, if Love be arm'd, they say,
Love can scarce keep holiday:
Love without his bow is straying!
Come, ye nymphs, Love goes a Maying.
His torch, his shafts, are laid aside —
From them no harm shall you betide.
Yet, I rede ye, nymphs, beware,
For your foe is passing fair;
Love is mighty, ye'll confess,
Mighty e'en in nakedness;
And most panoplied for fight
When his charms are bared to sight.
- Dian, a petition we,
By Venus sent, prefer to thee:
Virgin envoys, it is meet,
Should the Virgin huntress greet:
Quit the grove, nor it profane
With the blood of quarry slain.
She would ask thee, might she dare
Hope a maiden’s thought to share —
She would bid thee join us now,
Might cold maids our sport allow.
Now three nights thou may’st have seen,
Wandering through thine alleys green,
Troops of joyous friends, with flowers
Crown'd, amidst their myrtle bowers.
Ceres and Bacchus us attend,
And great Apollo is our friend;
All night we must our Vigil keep —
Night by song redeem'd from sleep.
Let Venus in the woods bear sway,
Dian, quit the grove, we pray.
- Of Hybla's flowers, so Venus will'd,
Venus' judgment-seat we build.
She is judge supreme; the Graces,
As assessors, take their places.
Hybla, render all thy store
All the season sheds thee o'er,
Till a hill of bloom be found
Wide as Enna's flowery ground.
Attendant nymphs shall here be seen,
Those who delight in forest green,
Those who on mountain-top abide,
And those whom sparkling fountains hide.
All these the Queen of joy and sport
Summons to attend her court,
And bids them all of Love beware,
Although the guise of peace he wear.
- Fresh be your coronals of flowers,
And green your overarching bowers,
To-morrow brings us the return
Of Ether's primal marriage-morn.
In amorous showers of rain he came
T' embrace his bride's mysterious frame,
To generate the blooming year,
And all the produce Earth does bear.
Venus still through vein and soul
Bids the genial current roll;
Still she guides its secret course
With interpenetrating force,
And breathes through heaven, and earth, and sea,
A reproductive energy.
- She old Troy's extinguish'd glory
Revived in Latium's later story,
When, by her auspices, her son
Laurentia's royal damsel won.
She vestal Rhea's spotless charms
Surrender'd to the War-god’s arms;
She for Romulus that day
The Sabine daughters bore away;
Thence sprung the Rhamnes' lofty name,
Thence the old Quirites came;
And thence the stock of high renown,
The blood of Romulus, handed down
Through many an age of glory pass'd,
To blaze in Caesar's at last.
- All rural nature feels the glow
Of quickening passion through it flow.
Love, in rural scenes of yore,
They say, his goddess-mother bore;
Received on Earth's sustaining breast,
Th' ambrosial infant sunk to rest;
And him the wild-flowers, o'er his head
Bending, with sweetest kisses fed.
- On yellow broom out yonder, see,
The mighty bulls lie peacefully.
Each animal of field or grove
Owns faithfully the bond of love.
The flocks of ewes, beneath the shade,
Around their gallant rams are laid;
And Venus bids the birds awake
To pour their song through plain and brake.
Hark! the noisy pools reply
To the swan's hoarse harmony;
And Philomel is vocal now,
Perch'd upon a poplar-bough.
Thou scarce would'st think that dying fall
Could ought but love's sweet griefs recall;
Thou scarce would'st gather from her song
The tale of brother's barbarous wrong.
She sings, but I must silent be:—
When will the spring-tide come for me?
When, like the swallow, spring's own bird,
Shall my faint twittering notes be heard?
Alas! the muse, while silent I
Remain'd, hath gone and pass'd me by,
Nor Phoebus listens to my cry.
And thus forgotten, I await,
By silence lost, Amyclae’s fate.
The Night Watch of Venus
- Let him love tomorrow who has never loved and let he who has loved love tomorrow.
- New spring, singing spring! The world is born in spring!
Loves harmonize in spring, birds marry in spring,
And the forest releases a marriage shower of leaves.
Tomorrow the union of loves among arboreal shades
interweaves lively youths in a cottage with her myrtle vine:
Tomorrow Dione, propped upon her lofty throne, declares the laws.