Verse > Anthologies > T. R. Smith, ed. > Poetica Erotica: A Collection of Rare and Curious Amatory Verse
T. R. Smith, comp.  Poetica Erotica: Rare and Curious Amatory Verse.  1921–22.
From Elegies: Book II. Elegia II.
By Ovid (43 B.C.–18 A.D.)
(Translated by Christopher Marlowe)

Ad Bagoum, ut custodiam puellæ sibi commissæ laxiorem habeat.

BAGOUS, whose care doth thy mistress bridle,
While I speak some few, yet fit words, be idle.
I saw the damsel walking yesterday,
There, where the porch doth Danaus’ fact display:
She pleased me soon; I sent, and did her woo;        5
Her trembling hand writ back she might not do.
And asking why, this answer she redoubled,
Because thy care too much thy mistress troubled.
Keeper, if thou be wise, cease hate to cherish,
Believe me, whom we fear, we wish to perish.        10
Nor is her husband wise: what needs defence,
When unprotected there is no expense?
But furiously he follow his love’s fire,
And thinks her chaste whom many do desire:
Stolen liberty she may by thee obtain,        15
Which giving her, she may give thee again:
Wilt thou her fault learn? she may make thee tremble.
Fear to be guilty, then thou may’st dissemble.
Think when she reads, her mother letters sent her:
Let him go forth known, that unknown did enter.        20
Let him go see her though she do not languish,
And then report her sick and full of anguish.
If long she stays, to think the time more short,
Lay down thy forehead in thy lap to snort.
Inquire not what with Isis may be done,        25
Nor fear lest she to the theàtres run.
Knowing her scapes, thine honour shall increase;
And what less labour than to hold thy peace?
Let him please, haunt the house, be kindly used,
Enjoy the wench; let all else be refused.        30
Vain causes feign of him, the true to hide,
And what she likes, let both bold ratified.
When most her husband bends the brows and frowns,
His fawning wench with her desire he crowns.
But yet sometimes to chide thee let her fall        35
Counterfeit tears: and thee lewd hangman call.
Object thou then, what she may well excuse,
To stain all faith in truth, by false crimes’ use.
Of wealth and honour so shall grow thy heap:
Do this, and soon thou shalt thy freedom reap.        40
On tell-tales’ necks thou seest the ink-knit chains,
The filthy prison faithless breasts restrains.
Water in waters, and fruit, flying touch,
Tantalus seeks, his long tongue’s gain is such.
While Juno’s watchman Iö too much eyed,        45
Him timeless death took, she was deified.
I saw one’s legs with fetters black and blue,
By whom the husband his wife’s incest knew:
More he deserved; to both great harm he framed,
The man did grieve, the woman was defamed.        50
Trust me all husbands for such faults are sad,
Nor make they any man that hears them glad.
If he loves not, deaf ears thou dost importune,
Or if he loves, thy tale breeds his misfortune.
Nor is it easy proved though manifest;        55
She safe by favour of her judge doth rest.
Though himself see, he’ll credit her denial,
Condemn his eyes, and say there is no trial.
Spying his mistress’ tears he will lament
And say “This blab shall suffer punishment.”        60
Why fight’st ’gainst odds? to thee, being cast, do hap
Sharp stripes; she sitteth in the judge’s lap.
To meet for poison or vile facts we crave not;
My hands an unsheathed shining weapon have not.
We seek that, through thee, safely love we may;        65
What can be easier than the thing we pray?

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