There was an unclouded fountain, with silver-bright water,
which neither shepherds nor goats grazing the hills,
nor other flocks, touched, that no animal or bird disturbed
not even a branch falling from a tree.
Grass was around it, fed by the moisture nearby, and a grove
of trees that prevented the sun from warming the place.
Here, the boy, tired by the heat and his enthusiasm for the chase,
lies down, drawn to it by its look and by the fountain.
While he desires to quench his thirst, a different thirst is created.
While he drinks he is seized by the vision of his reflected form.
He loves a bodiless dream. He thinks that a body, that is only a shadow.
He is astonished by himself, and hangs there motionless,
with a fixed expression, like a statue carved from Parian marble.
Flat on the ground, he contemplates two stars, his eyes,
and his hair, fit for Bacchus, fit for Apollo,
his youthful cheeks and ivory neck, the beauty of his face,
the rose-flush mingled in the whiteness of snow,
admiring everything for which he is himself admired.
Unknowingly he desires himself, and the one who praises is
himself praised, and, while he courts, is courted, so that, equally,
he inflames and burns. How often he gave his lips in vain to
the deceptive pool, how often, trying to embrace the neck he could see,
he plunged his arms into the water, but could not catch
himself within them! What he has seen he does not understand,
but what he sees he is on fire for, and the same error both seduces
and deceives his eyes. Fool, why try to catch a fleeting image, in vain?
What you search for is nowhere: turning away, what you love is lost!
Publio Ovidio Nasone, Metamorfosi,
English translation by A.S. Kline