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 II. Elegia V.
By Ovid (43 B.C.–18 A.D.)
 
(Translated by Christopher Marlowe)

Ad amicam curruptam.

NO love is so dear,—quivered Cupid fly!—
That my chief wish should be so oft to die.
Minding thy fault, with death I wish to revel;
Alas! a wench is a perpetual evil.
No intercepted lines thy deeds display,        5
No gifts given secretly thy crime bewray.
O would my proofs as vain might be withstood!
Ah me, poor soul, why is my cause so good?
He’s happy, that his love dares boldly credit;
To whom his wench can say, “I never did it.”        10
He’s cruel, and too much his grief doth favour,
That seeks the conquest by her loose behaviour.
Poor wretch, I saw when thou didst think I slumbered;
Not drunk, your faults on the spilt wine I numbered.
I saw your nodding eyebrows much to speak,        15
Even from your cheeks, part of a voice did break.
Not silent were thine eyes, the board with wine
Was scribbled, and thy fingers writ a line.
I knew your speech (what do not lovers see?)
And words that seemed for certain marks to be.        20
Not many guests were gone, the feast being done,
The youthful sort to divers pastimes run.
I saw you then unlawful kisses join;
(Such with my tongue it likes me to purloin);
None such the sister gives her brother grave,        25
But such kind wenches let their lovers have.
Phœbus gave not Diana such, ’tis thought,
But Venus often to her Mars such brought.
“What dost?” I cried; “transport’st thou my delight?
My lordly hands I’ll throw upon my right.        30
Such bliss is only common to us two,
In this sweet good why hath a third to do?”
This, and what grief enforced me say, I said:
A scarlet blush her guilty face arrayed;
Even such as by Aurora hath the sky,        35
Or maids that their betrothèd husbands spy;
Such as a rose mixed with a lily breeds,
Or when the moon travails with charmèd steeds.
Or such as, lest long years should turn the dye,
Arachne stains Assyrian ivory.        40
To these, or some of these, like was her colour:
By chance her beauty never shinèd fuller.
She viewed the earth; the earth to view, beseemed her,
She lookèd sad; sad, comely I esteemed her.
Even kembèd as they were, her locks to rend,        45
And scratch her fair soft cheeks I did intend.
Seeing her face, mine upreared arms descended,
With her own armour was my wench defended.
I, that erewhile was fierce, now humbly sue,
Lest with worse kisses she should me endue.        50
She laughed, and kissed so sweetly as might make
Wrath-kindled Jove away his thunder shake.
I grieve lest others should such good perceive,
And wish hereby them all unknown to leave.
Also much better were they than I tell,        55
And ever seemed as some new sweet befell.
’Tis ill they pleased so much, for in my lips
Lay her whole tongue hid, mine in hers she dips.
This grieves me not; no joinèd kisses spent,
Bewail I only, though I them lament.        60
Nowhere can they be taught but in the bed;
I know no master of so great hire sped.
 
 
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