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 His Mistress
By Ovid (43 B.C.–18 A.D.)
 
(From Amours, Book 1, Elegy IV. Translated by John Dryden) 1

YOUR husband will be with us at the Treat;
May that be the last Supper he shall Eat.
And am poor I, a Guest invited there,
Only to see, while he may touch the Fair?
To see you Kiss and Hug your nauseous Lord,        5
While his lewd Hand descends below the Board?
Now wonder not that Hippodamia’s Charms,
At such a sight, the Centaurs urged to Arms;
That in a rage they threw their Cups aside,
Assailed the Bridegroom, and would force the Bride.        10
I am not half a Horse (I would I were):
Yet hardly can from you my Hands forbear.
Take then my Counsel; which observed, may be
Of some Importance both to you and me.
Be sure to come before your Man be there;        15
There’s nothing can be done; but come how e’re.
Sit next him (that belongs to Decency);
But tread upon my Foot in passing by.
Read in my Looks what silently they speak,
And silly, with your Eyes, your Answer make.        20
My Lifted Eye-brow shall declare my Pain;
My Right-Hand to his fellow shall complain;
And on the Back a Letter shall design;
Besides a Note that shall be Writ in Wine.
When e’re you think upon our last Embrace,        25
With your Fore-finger gently touch your Face.
If any Word of mine offend my Dear,
Pull, with your Hand, the Velvet of your Ear.
If you are pleased with what I do or say,
Handle your Rings, or with your Fingers play.        30
As Suppliants use at Altars, hold the Board,
When e’re you wish the Devil may take your Lord.
When he fills for you, never touch the Cup;
But bide th’ officious Cuckold drink it up.
The Waiter on those Services employ.        35
Drink you, and I will snatch it from the Boy:
Watching the part where your sweet Mouth hath been,
And thence, with eager Lips, will suck it in.
If he, with Clownish Manners, thinks it fit
To taste, and offer you the nasty bit,        40
Reject his greazy Kindness, and restore
Th’ unsavory Morsel he had chewed before.
Nor let his Arms embrace your Neck, nor rest
Your tender Cheek upon his hairy Breast.
Let not his Hand within your Bosom stray,        45
And rudely with your pretty Bubbles play.
But above all, let him no Kiss receive;
That’s an Offence I never can forgive.
Do not, O do not that sweet Mouth resign,
Lest I rise up in Arms, and cry, ’Tis mine.        50
I shall thrust in betwixt, and void of Fear
The manifest Adult’rer will appear.
These things are plain to Sight; but more I doubt
What you conceal beneath your Petticoat.
Take not his Leg between your tender Thighs,        55
Nor, with your Hand, provoke my Foe to rise.
How many Love-Inventions I deplore,
Which I, myself, have practised all before?
How oft have I been forced the Robe to lift
In Company, to make a homely shift        60
For a bare Bout, ill huddled o’er in hast,
While o’er my side the Fair her Mantle cast.
You to your Husband shall not be so kind;
But, lest you should, your Mantle leave behind.
Encourage him to Tope; but Kiss him not,        65
Nor mix one drop of Water in his Pot.
If he be Fuddled well, and Snores apace
Then we may take Advice from Time and Place,
When all depart, when Complements are loud,
Be sure to mix among the thickest Crowd.        70
There I will be, and there we cannot miss,
Perhaps to Grubble, or at least to Kiss.
Alas, what length of Labour I employ,
Just to secure a short and transient Joy!
For Night must part us: and when Night is come,        75
Tucked underneath his Arm he leads you Home.
He locks you in; I follow to the Door,
His Fortune envy, and my own deplore.
He kisses you, he more than kisses too;
Th’ outrageous Cuckold thinks it all his due.        80
But, add not to his Joy, by your consent,
And let it not be given, but only lent.
Return no Kiss, nor move in any sort;
Make it a dull and a malignant Sport.
Had I my Wish, he should no Pleasure take,        85
But slubber o’er your Business for my sake.
And what e’re Fortune shall this Night befall,
Coax me to-morrow, by forswearing all.
 
Note 1. See translation by Marlowe. [back]
 
 
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