Love and War
Lovers all are soldiers, and Cupid has his campaigns:
I tell you, Atticus, lovers all are soldiers.
Youth is fit for war, and also fit for Venus.
Imagine an aged soldier, an elderly lover!
A general looks for spirit in his brave soldiery;
a pretty girl wants spirit in her companions.
Both stay up all night long, and each sleeps on the ground;
one guards his mistress's doorway, one his general's.
The soldier's lot requires far journeys; send his girl,
the zealous lover will follow her anywhere.
He'll cross the glowering mountains, the rivers swollen with storm;
he'll tread a pathway through the heaped-up snows;
and never whine of raging Eurus when he sets sail
or wait for stars propitious for his voyage.
Who but lovers and soldiers endure the chill of night,
and blizzards interspersed with driving rain?
The soldier reconnoiters among the dangerous foe;
the lover spies to learn his rival's plans.
Soldiers besiege strong cities; lovers, a harsh girl's home;
one storms town gates, the other storms house doors.
It's clever strategy to raid a sleeping foe
and slay an unarmed host by force of arms.
(That's how the troops of Thracian Rhesus met their doom,
and you, O captive steeds, forsook your master.)
Well, lovers take advantage of husbands when they sleep,
launching surprise attacks while the enemy snores.
To slip through bands of guards and watchful sentinels
is always the soldier's mission - and the lover's.
Mars wavers; Venus flutters: the conquered rise again,
and those you'd think could never fall, lie low.
So those who like to say that love is indolent
should stop: Love is the soul of enterprise.
Sad Achilles burns for Briseis, his lost darling:
Trojans, smash the Greeks' power while you may!
From Andromache's embrace Hector went to war;
his own wife set the helmet on his head;
and High King Agamemnon, looking on Priam's child,
was stunned (they say) by the Maenad's flowing hair.
And Mars himself was trapped in The Artificer's bonds:
no tale was more notorious in heaven.
I too was once an idler, born for careless ease;
my shady couch had made my spirit soft.
But care for a lovely girl aroused me from my sloth
and bid me to enlist in her campaign.
So now you see me forceful, in combat all night long.
If you want a life of action, fall in love.
- translated from the Latin by Jon Corelis
Ovid's Other Poems
Read this poem in other languages
This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.
Comments about this poem (Love and War by Ovid )
- On the Eve of Festives, Riyaz Yamish
- Dovetail, Naveed Khalid
- First Dance, Jeannette Heywood
- Bass Line, Betsy Sholl
- Forgive and forget - O men, gajanan mishra
- Snowflakes and Lillies, Anthony Di'anno
- Lament, Betsy Sholl
- I have taken birth only once, gajanan mishra
- A Song in There, Betsy Sholl
- Mirror, Ruma Chaudhuri
Poem of the Day
- The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost
- A Drinking Song, William Butler Yeats
- Annabel Lee, Edgar Allan Poe
- Daffodils, William Wordsworth
- Fire and Ice, Robert Frost
- If, Rudyard Kipling
- On the Ning Nang Nong, Spike Milligan
- A Dream Within A Dream, Edgar Allan Poe
- Phenomenal Woman, Maya Angelou
- Still I Rise, Maya Angelou
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973)
(8 August 1884 – 29 January 1933)
(10 December 1830 – 15 May 1886)
(16 August 1920 – 9 March 1994)
(28 November 1757 – 12 August 1827)
Udiah (witness to Yah)
(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)
(26 April 1564 - 23 April 1616)