Ovid, Metamorphoses 3.437–453: non illum Cereris, non illum cura quietis

by Tom Gardner

Non illum Cereris, non illum cura quietis
abstrahere inde potest, sed opaca fusus in herba
spectat inexpleto mendacem lumine formam,
perque oculos perit ipse suos; paulumque levatus
ad circumstantes tendens sua bracchia silvas
“ecquis, io silvae, crudelius” inquit “amavit?
Scitis enim, et multis latebra opportuna fuistis.
Ecquem, cum vestrae tot agantur saecula vitae,
qui sic tabuerit, longo meministis in aevo?
Et placet et video; sed quod videoque placetque,
non tamen invenio: tantus tenet error amantem.
Quoque magis doleam, nec nos mare separat ingens,
nec via nec montes nec clausis moenia portis:
exigua prohibemur aqua. Cupit ipse teneri:
nam quotiens liquidis porreximus oscula lymphis,
hic totiens ad me resupino nititur ore.
Posse putes tangi: minimum est, quod amantibus obstat.
Quisquis es, huc exi! quid me, puer unice, fallis,
quove petitus abis? certe nec forma nec aetas
est mea quam fugias, et amarunt me quoque nymphae.
Spem mihi nescio quam vultu promittis amico,
cumque ego porrexi tibi bracchia, porrigis ultro:
cum risi, adrides; lacrimas quoque saepe notavi
me lacrimante tuas, nutu quoque signa remittis,
et quantum motu formosi suspicor oris,
verba refers aures non pervenientia nostras.

No worry of food or thought can draw him thence, but, stretched out on the shaded grass, he gazes on that false image with insatiable eyes, and through his very own eyes he perishes. Raising himself a little, and stretching his arms to the woods around him, he said: “Did anyone, O woods, love more cruelly than I have? You would know, for you have been a fitting hiding-place for many. Do you remember, in ages past—for you have lived a life of so many centuries—remember anyone who wasted away like this? He pleases me and I see, but what I see and what pleases me, I cannot find: such a delusion holds the beloved. And my sorrow is all the more that there is no mighty ocean which separates us, no long road, no mountain ranges, no city walls with their gates shut; we are just kept apart by a bit of water. He longs to be embraced. For as often as I stretch my lips to the clear waters, he also strives to do the same with his upturned face. You would think he could be touched, so little it is that stands in the way of us lovers. Whoever you are, come out! Why do elude me, you unique boy? Where do you go off to when I try to reach you? Surely you would not flee me on account of my looks or my age; even the nymphs have loved me. You promise me some hope with your friendly expression, and then when I stretch out my arms to you, you stretch out yours; when I laugh, you laugh back; and I have often seen your tears when I am crying; you also return my signs with a nod; and, as I suspect from the movement of your beautiful lips, you answer me with words that do not arrive at my ears.