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

Quod ab amica receptus, cum ea coire non potuit, conqueritur.

EITHER she was foul, or her attire was bad,
Or she was not the wench I wished to have had.
Idly I lay with her, as if I loved not,
And like a burden grieved the bed that moved not.
Though both of us performed our true intent,        5
Yet could I not cast anchor where I meant.
She on my neck her ivory arms did throw,
Her arms far whiter than the Scythian snow.
And eagerly she kissed me with her tongue,
And under mine her wanton thigh she flung,        10
Yes, and she soothed me up, and called me “Sir,”
And used all speech that might provoke and stir.
Yet like as if cold hemlock I had drunk,
It mockèd me, hung down the head and sunk.
Like a dull cipher, or rude block I lay,        15
Or shade, or body was I, who can say?
What will my age do, age I cannot shun,
Seeing in my prime my force is spent and done?
I blush, that being youthful, hot, and lusty,
I prove neither youth nor man, but old and rusty.        20
Pure rose she, like a nun to sacrifice,
Or one that with her tender brother lies.
Yet boarded I the golden Chie twice,
And Libas, and the white-cheeked Pitho thrice.
Corinna craved it in a summer’s night,        25
And nine sweet bouts had we before daylight.
What, waste my limbs through some Thessalian charms?
May spells and drugs do silly souls such harms?
With virgin wax hath some imbast my joints?
And pierced my liver with sharp needle-points?        30
Charms change corn to grass and make it die:
By charms are running springs and fountains dry.
By charms mast drops from oaks, from vines grapes fall,
And fruit from trees when there’s no wind at all.
Why might not then my sinews be enchanted?        35
And I grow faint as with some spirit haunted?
To this, add shame: shame to perform it quailed me,
And was the second cause why vigour failed me.
My idle thoughts delighted her no more,
Than did the robe or garment which she wore.        40
Yet might her touch make youthful Pylius fire,
And Tithon livelier than his years require.
Even her I had, and she had me in vain,
What might I crave more, if I ask again?
I think the great gods grieved they had bestowed,        45
This benefit: which lewdly I foreslowed,
I wished to be received in, in I get me.
To kiss, I kiss; to lie with her, she let me.
Why was I blest? why made king to refuse it?
Chuff-like had I not gold and could not use it?        50
So in a spring thrives he that told so much,
And looks upon the fruits he cannot touch.
Hath any rose so from a fresh young maid,
As she might straight have gone to church and prayed?
Well, I believe, she kissed not as she should,        55
Nor used the sleight and cunning which she could.
Huge oaks, hard adamants might she have moved,
And with sweet words caus[ed] deaf rocks to have loved.
Worthy she was to move both gods and men,
But neither was I man nor livèd then.        60
Can deaf ears take delight when Phæmius sings?
Or Thamyris in curious painted things?
What sweet thought is there but I had the same?
And one gave place still as another came.
Yet notwithstanding, like one dead it lay,        65
Drooping more than a rose pulled yesterday.
Now, when he should not jet, he bolts upright,
And craves his task, and seeks to be at fight.
Lie down with shame, and see thou stir no more.
Seeing thou would’st deceive me as before.        70
Then cozenest me: by thee surprised am I,
And bide sore loss with endless infamy.
Nay more, the wench did not disdain a whit
To take it in her hand, and play with it.
But when she saw it would by no means stand,        75
But still drooped down, regarding not her hand,
“Why mock’st thou me,” she cried, “or being ill,
Why bade thee lie down here against thy will?
Either thou art witched with blood of frogs new dead,
Or jaded cam’st thou from some other’s bed.”        80
With that, her loose gown on, from me she cast her;
In skipping out her naked feet much graced her.
And lest her maid should know of this disgrace,
To cover it, spilt water on the place.
 
 
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