Galatea, whiter than the snowy privet petals, |
taller than slim alder, more flowery than the meadows,
friskier than a tender kid, more radiant than crystal,
smoother than the shells, polished, by the endless tides;
more welcome than the summer shade, or the sun in winter,
showier than the tall plane-tree, fleeter than the hind;
more than ice sparkling, sweeter than grapes ripening,
softer than the swan's-down, or the milk when curdled,
lovelier, if you did not flee, than a watered garden.
Galatea, likewise, wilder than an untamed heifer,
harder than an ancient oak, trickier than the sea;
tougher than the willow-twigs, or the white vine branches,
firmer than these cliffs, more turbulent than a river,
vainer than the vaunted peacock, fiercer than the fire;
more truculent than a pregnant bear, pricklier than thistles,
deafer than the waters, crueller than a trodden snake;
oh, what I [Note 1] wish I could alter in you, most of all, is this:
that you are swifter than the deer, driven by loud barking,
swifter even than the winds, and the passing breeze.
But if you knew me well, you would regret your flight,
and you would condemn your own efforts yourself, and hold to me:
half of the mountain is mine, and the deep caves
in the natural rock, where winter is not felt
nor the midsummer sun. There are apples that
weigh down the branches, golden and purple grapes on the trailing vines.
Those, and these, I keep for you.
You will pick ripe strawberries born in the woodland shadows,
in autumn cherries and plums, not just the juicy blue-purples,
but also the large yellow ones, the colour of fresh bees'-wax.
There will be no lack of fruit from the wild strawberry trees,
nor from the tall chestnuts: every tree will be there to serve you.
This whole flock is mine, and many are wandering the valleys as well,
many hidden by the woods, many penned in the caves.
If you asked me I could not tell you how many there are:
a poor man counts his flocks.
You can see, you need not merely believe me,
how they can hardly move their legs with their full udders.
There are newborn lambs in the warn sheepfolds,
and kids too, of the same age, in other pens,
and I always have snow-white milk: some of it kept
for drinking, and some with rennet added to curdle it.
You will not have vulgar gifts or easily found pleasures,
such as leverets, or does, or kids,
or paired doves, or a nest from the tree-tops.
I came upon twin cubs of a shaggy bear
that you can play with: so alike you can hardly separate them.
I came upon them and I said: "I shall keep these for my mistress."
Now Galatea, only lift your shining head from the dark blue sea:
come, do not scorn my gifts. Lately, I examined myself,
it's true, and looked at my reflection in the clear water,
and, seeing my self, it pleased me.
Look how large I am: Jupiter, in the sky, since you are accustomed
to saying some Jove or other rules there, has no bigger a body.
Luxuriant hair hangs over my face, and shades my shoulders
like a grove. And do not consider it ugly
for my whole body to be bristling with thick prickly hair.
A tree is ugly without its leaves: a horse is ugly unless
a golden mane covers its neck: feathers
hide the birds: their wool becomes the sheep:
a beard and shaggy hair befits a man's body.
I only have one eye in the middle of my forehead,
but it is as big as a large shield.
Well? Does great Sol not see all this from the sky?
Yet Sol's orb is unique. Added to that my father, Neptune,
rules over your waters: I give you him as a father-in-law.
Only have pity, and listen to my humble prayers!
I, who scorn Jove and his heaven and his piercing lightning-bolt,
submit to you alone: I fear you, Nereid: your anger
is fiercer than lightning. And I could bear this contempt of yours
more patiently, if you fled from everyone.
But why, rejecting Cyclops, love Acis, and prefer Acis's embrace to mine?
Though he is pleased with himself, and, what I dislike,
pleases you too, Galatea, let me just have a chance at him.
Then he will know I am as strong as I am big! I'll tear
out his entrails while he lives, rend his limbs
and scatter them over the fields, and over your ocean,
(so he can join you!) For I am on fire,
and, wounded, I burn with a fiercer flame,
and I seem to bear Aetna with all his violent powers
sunk in my breast, yet you, Galatea, are unmoved.'
Note 1: I = Polyphemus
Event: Polyphemus, Acis and Galatea