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

Ad rivalem cui uxor curæ non erat.

FOOL, if to keep thy wife thou hast no need,
Keep her from me, my more desire to breed;
We scorn things lawful; stolen sweets we affect;
Cruel is he that loves whom none protect.
Let us, both lovers, hope and fear alike,        5
And may repulse place for our wishes strike.
What should I do with fortune that ne’er fails me?
Nothing I love that at all times avails me.
Wily Corinna saw this blemish in me,
And craftily knows by what means to win me.        10
Ah, often, that her hale head ached, she lying,
Willed me, whose slow feet sought delay, be flying!
Ah, oft, how much she might, she feigned offence;
And, doing wrong, made show of innocence.
So, having vexed, she nourished my warm fire,        15
And was again most apt to my desire.
To please me, what fair terms and sweet words has she!
Thou also that late took’st mine eyes away,
Oft cozen me, oft, being wooed, say nay;
And on thy threshold let me lie dispread,        20
Suff’ring much cold by hoary night’s frost bred.
So shall my love continue many years;
This doth delight me, this my courage cheers.
Fat love, and too much fulsome, me annoys,
Even as sweet meat a glutted stomach cloys.        25
In brazen tower had not Danäe dwelt,
A mother’s joy by Jove she had not felt.
While Juno Iö keeps, when horns she wore,
Jove liked her better than he did before.
Who covets lawful things takes leaves from woods,        30
And drinks stolen waters in surrounding floods.
Her lover let her mock that long will reign:
Ah me, let not my warnings cause my pain!
Whatever haps, by sufferance harm is done,
What flies I follow, what follows me I shun.        35
But thou, of thy fair damsel too secure,
Begin to shut thy house at evening sure.
Search at the door who knocks oft in the dark,
In night’s deep silence why the ban-dogs bark.
Whether the subtle maid lines brings and carries,        40
Why she alone in empty bed oft tarries.
Let this care sometimes bite thee to the quick,
That to deceits it may me forward prick.
To steal sands from the shore he loves a-life
That can affect a foolish wittol’s wife.        45
Now I forewarn, unless to keep her stronger
Thou dost begin, she shall be mine no longer.
Long have I borne much, hoping time would beat thee
To guard her well, that well I might entreat thee.
Thou suffer’st what no husband can endure,        50
But of my love it will an end procure.
Shall I, poor soul, be never interdicted?
Nor never with night’s sharp revenge afflicted.
In sleeping shall I fearless draw my breath?
Wilt nothing do, why I should wish thy death?        55
Can I but loathe a husband grown a bawd?
By thy default thou dost our joys defraud.
Some other seek that may in patience strive with thee,
To pleasure me, forbid me to corrive with thee.
 
 
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