Saturday, September 17, 2011

OVID: Cures for Love

Part VII: Have More Than One Lover

I also urge you to have two girls at once
(You’re very brave if you could consider more):
When the heart’s divided it goes in both directions,
and one love saps the power of the other.
Vast rivers are thinned out through many channels:
fierce flames die down when the fuel’s removed.
One anchor’s not enough to hold a well-waxed hull,
a single hook’s not enough in clear water:
Who long ago arranged a double solace for himself,
long ago was victor on the highest summit.
But you, who were foolishly trusting of one mistress,
at least now a fresh love is to be contrived for you.
Minos quenched the fires of Pasiphae in Procris:
Cleopatra, Phineus’s first wife, left, conquered by Idaea.
Callirhoe made Alcmaeon share her bed
lest he always love Alphesiboea.
And Oenone would have held Paris, to the end of time,
if she’d not been harmed by Helen, her Spartan rival.
His wife Procne’s beauty would have pleased Tereus:
but Philomela, her imprisoned sister, was more beautiful.
Why dwell on more examples, a crowd that tires me?
Every love’s defeated by a fresh successor.
A mother loses one son of many more resolutely,
than one in tears who cries: ‘You were my only son.’
But don’t think I’m writing new rules for you
(and I wish these discoveries added to my glory!)
Agamemnon witnessed it (what did he not see, in fact,
he who was in command of all the Greeks?)
The conqueror loved Chryseis, captured in the war:
but her old father wept everywhere, foolishly.
Why weep, so annoyingly, old man? They suit each other well:
you wound you daughter, tactlessly, with your attentions.
When Calchas, later, safe, under Achilles’s protection, ordered
she be returned, and she was received by her father’s house,
Agamemnon said: ‘There’s one Briseis, close to her in beauty,
and, if you allow for the first syllable, her name’s the same:
If he’s wise, Achilles will hand her over to me, in lieu:
if he doesn’t, he’ll experience my power.
If your actions show mine to be at fault in this, you Greeks,
there’s something, a powerful sceptre, grasped in my hand.
For if I’m king, and no girl sleeps beside me, then it’s right
that impudent Thersites take my kingship.’
He spoke, and had, from her, much solace for the first girl,
and love was laid aside, driven out by new love.
So, from Agamemnon’s example, take up with new flames,
in order for your love to be distracted, in twin directions.
You ask, where you can find her? Read my works:
you’ll soon possess a boatload of girls.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

OVID: Cures for Love

Part VIII: Be Cool With Her

But if my suggestions have value, if Apollo
through my mouth teaches all to mortal men,
though, unhappy man, you’re roasting in the midst of Etna,
make it seem to your girl that you’re chillier than ice:
and if you’re grieving deeply, look happy, lest she see it,
and laugh, when tears come to you.
Not that I order you to break off in mid-sorrow:
my commands aren’t as cruel as that.
Pretend to what is not, and that the passion’s over,
so you’ll become, in truth, what you are studying to be.
I’ve often wished to seem asleep, lest it seem I’ve been drinking,
while I seemed so, I gave my conquered eyes to sleep:
I’ve laughed at one caught, who pretended to himself he was in love,
hunting birds, but fallen into his own net.
Love penetrates the heart by habit, through habit it’s forgotten:
he who can imagine he’s well, will be well.
She might ask you to come: go on the night agreed:
you’ve come, and the door is locked: well endure it.
Don’t speak fawning words, or abuse the doorpost,
nor lay your body on the hard threshold.
The new day will dawn: lose your words of grievance,
and show no signs of suffering in your face.
She’ll soon drop her disdain, when she sees your indifference:
this too’s a gift you’ll gather from my art.
Still, deceive yourself as well, don’t let there be a plan
to stop loving: the horse will often fight against the bit.
Conceal your advantage: what’s not declared will be:
the bird avoids the net that’s too apparent.
Don’t let her be too pleased with herself, nor have the power
to despise you: be brave, so she gives way to your bravery.
The door’s wide open? Though you’re called to, pass by.
There’s a night agreed? Hesitate to go on the given night.
To be able to endure it’s easy, when, if patience fails,
it’s fine to take your enjoyment with easy girls.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Ted Hughes:Examination at the Womb-Door

Who owns those scrawny little feet? Death.
Who owns this bristly scorched-looking face? Death.
Who owns these still-working lungs? Death.
Who owns this utility coat of muscles? Death.
Who owns these unspeakable guts? Death.
Who owns these questionable brains? Death.
All this messy blood? Death.
These minimum-efficiency eyes? Death.
This wicked little tongue? Death.
This occasional wakefulness? Death.

Given, stolen, or held pending trial?

Who owns the whole rainy, stony earth? Death.
Who owns all of space? Death.

Who is stronger than hope? Death.
Who is stronger than the will? Death.
Stronger than love? Death.
Stronger than life? Death.

But who is stronger than Death?
Me, evidently.
Pass, Crow.