Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Hell, just let me love her

Fair's fair now, Venus. This girl's got me hooked. All I'm
asking from her Is love - or at least some future hope for my own
Eternal devotion. No, even that's too much - hell, just let me
love her! (Listen, Venus: I've asked you so often now.)
Say yes, pet. I'd be your slave for years, for a lifetime.      
Say yes - unswerving fidelity's my strong suit.
I may not have top-drawer connections, I can't produce blue-blooded
Ancestors to impress you, my father's plain middle-class,
And there aren't any squads of ploughmen to deal with my broad acres -
My parents are both pretty thrifty, and need to be.
What have I got on my side, then? Poetic genius, sweetheart,
Divine inspiration. And love. I'm yours to command –
Unswerving faithfulness, morals above suspicion,
Naked simplicity, a born-to-the-purple blush.
I don't chase thousands of girls, I'm no sexual circus-rider;     
Honestly, all I want is to look after you
Till death do us part, have the two of us living together
All my time, and know you'll cry for me when I'm gone.
Besides, when you give me yourself, what you'll be providing
Is creative material. My art will rise to the theme
And immortalize you. Look, why do you think we remember
The swan-upping of Leda, or Io's life as a cow,
Or poor virgin Europa whisked off overseas, clutching
That so-called bull by the - horn? Through poems, of course.
So you and I, love, will enjoy the same world-wide publicity,  
And our names will be linked, for ever, with the gods.


Ovid, The Erotic Poems (translated by 
Peter Green, Penguin Books)

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