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This poem is taken from PN Review 154, Volume 30 Number 2, November - December 2003.

Tom Payne's Propertius Tom Payne


Cynthia was first. She used her eyes to capture
sad me; that brought my first feeling of rapture.
Since then my gaze is constantly turned down -
Love has imposed his feet upon my crown
so long the lowlife's trained me to abjure
chaste women and observe no other law.
By now it's been a year that he's incensed me
(although I think the whole heaven's against me).
          There was no task Milanion knocked back
until he made tough Atalanta crack.
His love made him so mindless he could be brave
wild hirsute beasts and the Parthenian cave.
Hylaeus the centaur pierced him with a beam
and the Arcadian rock rang with the scream.
That's how he bridled his athletic love,
so proving prayers and deeds can be enough.

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