Verse > Anthologies > T. R. Smith, ed. > Poetica Erotica: A Collection of Rare and Curious Amatory Verse
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T. R. Smith, comp.  Poetica Erotica: Rare and Curious Amatory Verse.  1921–22.
 
Selections from the Greek Anthology
Anonymous
 
(Translated by Major Robert G. MacGregor, 1864)

LATE to Ionis Callignotus swore,
Ne’er than herself to love man-woman-more;
And he swore sooth, but lovers’ oaths, they say,
Ne’er, e’en if heard, in ears Immortal stay.
Now is he fir’d with love of other fair,        5
Nor has of said Ionis count or care.
*        *        *        *        *
O holy night! fond lamp! We, lovers both,
Chose none but you to register our oath;
She swore to love me still, and I to leave
Her never. Ye our joint pledge did receive.        10
Now, while in others’ lap thou seest her sit,
False lamp! she says such oaths in air are writ.
*        *        *        *        *
Soon Charito will close her sixtieth year,
But, dark, her tresses in full flow appear;
Still, from the band releas’d which circled there,        15
Her bosom-comes, as marble firm and fair;
Still drops ambrosia from her softest skin,
Persuasion still and myriad graces win;
Lovers! from full desire who flee not yet,
Come hither, and her tens of years forget.
*        *        *        *        *
        20
Melissa! name and nature both of flow’r-fond bee is thine;
Well have I known it and long kept stampt on this heart of mine;
And from those lips, when meeting mine, drop kisses honey-sweet;
But, when thou askest money—Ah! its central sting we meet.
*        *        *        *        *
Ye Gods! I knew not that the form was Cytherea’s there        25
Bathing, whose hands adown her neck had loos’d the lovely hair;
Forgive my fault, if such it were, nor, Mistress! with mine eyes
Be angry, that a godlike form by chance I did surprise;
—I know it now; not Cypris’ ’t was, but Rodocleia mine;
Whence was the beauty then? Hast thou stript even the Divine?
*        *        *        *        *
        30
I pelt thee with an apple, Fair! if true love stir in thee,
Receive it willingly, and yield thy maiden charms to me;
If pond’ring still to give or keep, this thought at last persuade,
Tho’ youth and beauty now are thine, how quickly both must fade!
*        *        *        *        *
O fairy foot! O shapely leg! O tempting taper thigh!        35
O comely back! O clipsome waist! with ivory which vie;
O shoulders soft! O budding breasts! O neck of swan-like fall!
O lovely hands! O lustrous eyes! for which I madden all,
O gestures of transcendant grace! O kisses! sweeter far
Than nectar, and, O voice! to which my senses victims are—        40
Tho’ ignorant and rustic she, nor such as Sappho sung,
For dusky Andromede of Ind fierce love Perseus stung.
*        *        *        *        *
Fly, Gnat! swift messenger, and touch—O bliss!
Zenophila’s soft ear, and whisper this:
“Sleepless he waits: thou, sleeping, dost deny        45
His love.” Fly quick, O fond of music! fly.
—Yet soft, lest rous’d her bedfellow should be
To the worst pains of jealousy by me;
Gnat! bring but her, and I’ll a lion’s hide
Give thee, and club to carry by thy side.
*        *        *        *        *
        50
O Night! O sleepless fond regret for Heliodora’s sake!
O segments sweet of treach’rous morns! yet smiles and tears now wake;
Lives any remnant of our loves, or is the embrace of erst,
Whose mem’ry should be warm, alone in some cold copy nurst?
Weeps she who partner’d then my couch? my presence does she miss,        55
And to her loving bosom in soul-cheating visions kiss?
But plaything new of a new love, if now she lie, O Link!
Look not on her, nor guard her bed, who could so vilely sink.
*        *        *        *        *
Foe to my love, why, Morn! so slowly rise,
Now in a rival’s arms when Demo lies?        60
But when I cherish’d the slim girl in mine,
Thy early light rejoic’d on me to shine.
*        *        *        *        *
Love’s nectar will ye drink, O Eyes! how long
Of undiluted beauty tipplers strong?
Flee far, while yet ye may! In calmer hour        65
We’ll milk-libations to mild Venus pour;
But if, e’en there, this madd’ning sting adheres,
O then at least be moisten’d with cold tears.
Just are your suff’rings ever, since, alas!
From you to these devouring flames I pass.
*        *        *        *        *
        70
Kissing Hippomene my fancy clung
To Xanthe: while on Xanthe’s lips I hung,
Leandra’s image to my breast I bore,
And while Leandra pressing to my core,
Back to Hippomene my soul return’d.        75
Cold to each fair for whom so late I burn’d,
All whom I have I hate: with constant change
My inconstant arms from one to other range,
Till fixt by some rich love: if any chide
Let her, in want, remain of one the bride.
*        *        *        *        *
        80
A soft kiss Demo gives, but Doris bites,
Daphne’s is loud and long. Which most excites?
Ears judge not kisses; but, all three mouths tried
And tasted round, the pebble shall decide.
My heart of Demo the soft kisses sips,        85
And the sweet honey of her dewy lips.
Wander no further, Fool! Abide by these,
She wins the garland fairly, and with ease;
And if another some one else prefer,
Let him—my love from Demo shall not stir.
*        *        *        *        *
        90
Titter and hem a conquest both foreshow;
A gentle nod—in vain you tempt me so:
With mild eyes on the girl who love could scorn,
Never to look again I thrice have sworn.
Play by yourself at kisses: vainly smack        95
Yourself with naked lips, since lovers lack.
I elsewhere go: For me there others are
At Venus-votaries superior far.
*        *        *        *        *
Soft is the kiss of Sappho, soft and slim
Her snowy form’s contour, soft ev’ry limb,        100
But hard as stone her soul; love only creeps
Far as her lips; all else the virgin keeps.
The man who will, or can, endure this worst
Would bear with ease of Tantalus the thirst.
*        *        *        *        *
With two fair girls—dark night above—was I,        105
Caressing one, carest the other by:
While, greedily, Rose drew me to her kiss,
More rare with Susan was my stolen bliss;
Careful to cheat—lest lips too loud betray’d—
The jealous anger of each neighbour maid.        110
Inly I groan’d: To love, and lov’d to be,
Alas! alike is punishment to me.
*        *        *        *        *
Mine arms around thee, and my lips to thine,
Love-mad, I revel on thy neck divine;
But still I toil—not yet all mine the prize—        115
Waiting a damsel who at last denies:
Half of herself has vow’d to Venus been,
Half to Athene—both I waste between.
*        *        *        *        *
Divine Rodanthe, when my mouth in doubt
To kiss, her slim waist’s virgin zone held out,        120
And kiss’d: then I, as one who from its source
Leads water, led love’s stream a second course,
Her kiss imbibing, and, with loving smack,
On the girl’s belt, from far, her kiss gave back:
So was our strait reliev’d: ’tween lips of both        125
That sweet belt serv’d to signal love and troth.
*        *        *        *        *
Wait for me, Sweet-heart! what’s thy pretty name?
Not see me, why? I’ll give whate’er thy claim.
Still silent! where dost live? I’ll some one send
To mark thy home. Is any man thy friend?        130
Farewell, thou haughty one! who dost not deign
Farewell to me. Again and yet again
I’ll come to thee. I Woman know to quell
Colder than even thou—Woman! farewell.
*        *        *        *        *
The bold and high, who look’d from lordly eyes,        135
The plaything of a feeble virgin lies:
Who, with his maid, though erst by pride to cope,
Himself subdued, departs without a hope:
Falling, his piteous pray’rs but show him weak,
While flashing eyes her manly spirit speak.        140
Lion-soul’d Virgin! tho’ just anger try,
Lay down this manhood, Nemesis is nigh!
*        *        *        *        *
So soon, Ye twitt’ring Swallows! why?
Ye Nightingales! bough-perch’d on high,
Waken her not. Upon my breast        145
A fair cheek nestles in warm rest;
Soft arms are round me twining. Since
Ever the female sex evince
A chatt’ring turn, grant this my prayer,
Leave her in quiet slumber there.
*        *        *        *        *
        150
If, Stranger, thou hast anywhere
A maiden met of beauty rare,
The lovely and surpassing she,
But sure! was Apollodoté.
And, Stranger! if, that marvel seen,        155
Thou hast not conquer’d, captiv’d, been,
Nor felt thy bosom, as with fire
Burning of passionate desire,
Then either art thou God, or stone,
So cold and hard thy nature shown.        160
 
 
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