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.
 
To Lydia
By Horace (Quintus Horatius Flaccus) (65–8 B.C.)
 
(Ode XIII. Book I; translated by Sir Theodore Martin, 1881)

LYDIA, when so oft the charms
  Of Telephus you bid me note,
Taunt me with his snowy arms,
  Rosy cheek, and shapely throat,
Within my breast I feel the fires        5
Of wild and desperate desires.
 
Then reels my brain, then on my cheek
  The shifting colour comes and goes,
And tears, that flow unbidden, speak
  The torture of my inward throes,        10
The fierce unrest, the deathless flame,
That slowly macerates my frame.
 
Oh agony! to trace where he
  Has smutched thy shoulders ivory-white
Amid his tipsy revelry;        15
  Or where, in trance of fierce delight,
Upon thy lips the frenzied boy
Has left the records of his joy.
 
Hope not such love can last for aye
  (But thou art deaf to words of mine!)        20
Such selfish love, as ruthlessly
  Could wound those kisses all divine,
Which Venus steeps in sweets intense
Of her own nectar’s quintessence.
 
Oh, trebly blest, and blest for ever,        25
  Are they, whom true affection binds,
No cold distrusts nor janglings sever
  The union of their constant minds,
But life in blended current flows,
Serene and sunny to the close!        30
 
 
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