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.
 
The Lover and His Lass
By Theocritus (fl. Third Century B.C.)
 
(From the Idylls; translated by James Henry Hallard, 1901)

GIRL
… Ay, and a neatherd ravished the wise Helen.
 
DAPHNIS
Nay, Helen won him with a willing kiss.
 
GIRL
Boast not, young satyr, for—‘a kiss is naught.’
 
DAPHNIS
Yet empty kisses have a sweet delight.
 
GIRL
I rub my mouth and blow thy kiss away.
        5
 
DAPHNIS
Dost rub thy lips? Give them again to kiss!
 
GIRL
Heifers should’st thou kiss, not an unwed maid.
 
DAPHNIS
Boast not, for Youth drifts by thee like a dream.
 
GIRL
But raisins come from grapes, the dried rose lives.
 
DAPHNIS
I, too, age; let me drink that milk and honey!
        10
 
GIRL
Hands off!—Would’st dare?—I’ll scratch thy lips again!
 
DAPHNIS
Come ’neath yon olives! I would tell a tale.
 
GIRL
Nay, with a sweet tale thou beguil’dst me once.
 
DAPHNIS
Come ’neath yon elms, and listen to my pipe!
 
GIRL
Pleasure thyself! No silly song love I.
        15
 
DAPHNIS
Ah, maiden, maiden, dread the Paphian’s wrath!
 
GIRL
Good-bye to her, if Artemis be kind!
 
DAPHNIS
Hush, lest she fling thee in her scapeless toils!
 
GIRL
Nay, let her fling me! Artemis will save.
 
DAPHNIS
Thou can’st not flee from Love; no maiden can.
        20
 
GIRL
By Pan, I do! But thou aye bear’st his yoke.
 
DAPHNIS
I fear he give thee to a meaner man.
 
GIRL
Many my wooers, but none hath my heart.
 
DAPHNIS
A wooer, too, ’mongst many here I come.
 
GIRL
What shall I do, friend? Full of woe is wedlock.
        25
 
DAPHNIS
Nor woe nor pain hath marriage, but a dance.
 
GIRL
Ay, but they say that women dread their lords.
 
DAPHNIS
Nay, rule them rather. What do women fear?
 
GIRL
Travail I dread. Keen pangs hath childbearing.
 
DAPHNIS
Thy lady Artemis will ease the pain.
        30
 
GIRL
But I fear childbirth for my beauty’s sake.
 
DAPHNIS
A mother, thou shalt glory in thy sons.
 
GIRL
What wedding-gift dost bring, if I say ‘yes’?
 
DAPHNIS
My herd, my woodland, and my pasturage.
 
GIRL
Swear not to leave me after to my woe!
        35
 
DAPHNIS
Never, by Pan, e’en did’st thou drive me forth!
 
GIRL
Wilt build a chambered house and yard-walls for me?
 
DAPHNIS
I’ll build a chambered house, and tend thy flocks.
 
GIRL
But oh! what shall I tell my aged sire?
 
DAPHNIS
He’ll praise thy wedlock, when he learns my name.
        40
 
GIRL
Tell me thy name. A name oft gives delight.
 
DAPHNIS
Daphnis—Nomaea’s child and Lycidas’.
 
GIRL
Well-born indeed! But no less well am I.
 
DAPHNIS
Of honoured birth, I know. Thy sire’s Menalcas.
 
GIRL
Show me thy grove where stands thy cattle-stall.
        45
 
DAPHNIS
Hither, and see how soft my cypress blooms!
 
GIRL
Browse, goats; I go to view the herdsman’s place.
 
DAPHNIS
Feed, bulls; I’ll show my grove unto the maid.
 
GIRL
What dost thou, satyr? Why dost touch my breasts?
 
DAPHNIS
To know if these young apples there are ripening.
        50
 
GIRL
By Pan, I faint; Take back that hand of thine!
 
DAPHNIS
Courage, dear girl! Why shak’st thou so for fear?
 
GIRL
Would’st thrust me in the ditch and wet my gown?
 
DAPHNIS
See, I will throw this fleece beneath thy robe.
 
GIRL
My girdle is torn off! Why did’st thou loose it?
        55
 
DAPHNIS
I vow this firstling to the Paphian one.
 
GIRL
Oh wait!… If some one came!… I hear a noise!
 
DAPHNIS
The cypresses are murmuring of our love.
 
GIRL
My kirtle is in rags, and I am naked.
 
DAPHNIS
An ampler kirtle will I give to thee …
        60
 
GIRL
All things today; perhaps no salt tomorrow!
 
DAPHNIS
… And oh to give my life along with it!
 
GIRL
Forgive me, Artemis; I break thy vow!
 
DAPHNIS
I’ll slay a calf to Love, the cow to Cypris.
 
GIRL
A maid I hither came, a woman go.
        65
 
DAPHNIS
Yea, but a mother and a nurse of children.
 
So these twain, joying in their youthful limbs,
Babbled together, and Love’s stolen sweet
Tasted. Then up she rose, and silently
Moved off to tend her flock, her eyes downcast,        70
But gladness in her heart. He towards his herd
Of bulls departed full of Love’s delight.
 
 
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