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.
 
From Elegies: Book I. Elegia X.
By Ovid (43 B.C.–18 A.D.)
 
(Translated by Christopher Marlowe)

Ad puellam, ne pro amore præmia poscat.

SUCH as the cause was of two husbands’ war,
Whom Trojan ships fetch’d from Europa far,
Such as was Leda, whom the god deluded
In snow-white plumes of a false swan included.
Such as Amymone through the dry fields strayed,        5
When on her head a water pitcher laid.
Such wert thou, and I feared the bull and eagle,
And whate’er Love made Jove, should thee inveigle.
Now all fear with my mind’s hot love abates:
No more this beauty mine eyes captivates.        10
Ask’st why I change? because thou crav’st reward;
This cause hath thee from pleasing me debarred.
While thou wert plain I loved thy mind and face:
Now inward faults thy outward form disgrace.
Love is a naked boy, his years saunce stain,        15
And hath no clothes, but open doth remain.
Will you for gain have Cupid sell himself?
He hath no bosom where to hide base pelf.
Love and Love’s son are with fierce arms at odds;
To serve for pay beseems not wanton gods.        20
The whore stands to be bought for each man’s money,
And seeks vile wealth by selling of her coney.
Yet greedy bawd’s command she curseth still,
And doth, constrained, what you do of goodwill.
Take from irrational beasts a precedent;        25
’Tis shame their wits should be more excellent.
The mare asks not the horse, the cow the bull,
Nor the mild ewe gifts from the ram doth pull.
Only a woman gets spoils from a man,
Farms out herself on nights for what she can;        30
And lets what doth delight, what both desire,
Making her joy according to her hire.
The sport being such, as both alike sweet try it,
Why should one sell it and the other buy it?
Why should I lose, and thou gain by the pleasure,        35
Which man and woman reap in equal measure?
Knights of the post of perjuries make sale,
The unjust judge for bribes becomes a stale.
’Tis shame sold tongues the guilty should defend,
Or great wealth from a judgment-seat ascend.        40
’Tis shame to grow rich by bed-merchandise,
Or prostitute thy beauty for bad price.
Thanks worthily are due for things unbought;
For beds ill-hired we are indebted nought.
The hirer payeth all; his rent discharged,        45
From further duty he rests then enlarged.
Fair dames forbear rewards for nights to crave:
Ill-gotten goods good end will never have.
The Sabine gauntlets were too dearly won,
That unto death did press the holy nun.        50
The son slew her, that forth to meet him went,
And a rich necklace caused that punishment.
Yet think no scorn to ask a wealthy churl;
He wants no gifts into thy lap to hurl.
Take clustered grapes from an o’er-laden vine,        55
May bounteous love Alcinous’ fruit resign.
Let poor men show their service, faith and care;
All for their mistress, what they have, prepare.
In verse to praise kind wenches ’tis my part,
And whom I like eternise by mine art.        60
Garments do wear, jewels and gold do waste,
The fame that verse gives doth for ever last.
To give I love, but to be asked disdain;
Leave asking, and I’ll give what I refrain.
 
 
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