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

Quod amet mulieres, cujuscunque formæ sint.

I MEAN not to defend the scapes of any,
Or justify my vices being many;
For I confess, if that might merit favour,
Here I display my lewd and loose behaviour.
I loathe, yet after that I loathe, I run:        5
Oh, how the burthen irks, that we should shun.
I cannot rule myself but where Love please;
Am driven like a ship upon rough seas.
No one face likes me best, all faces move,
A hundred reasons make me ever love.        10
If any eye me with a modest look,
I blush, and by that blushful glance am took;
And she that’s coy I like, for being no clown,
Methinks she would be nimble when she’s down.
Though her sour looks a Sabine’s brow resemble,        15
I think she’ll do, but deeply can dissemble.
If she be learned, then for her skill I crave her;
If not, because she’s simple I would have her.
Before Callimachus one prefers me far;
Seeing she likes my books, why should we jar?        20
Another rails at me, and that I write,
Yet would I lie with her, if that I might:
Trips she, it likes me well; plods she, what then?
She would be nimbler lying with a man.
And when one sweetly sings, then straight I long,        25
To quaver on her lips even in her song;
Or if one touch the lute with art and cunning,
Who would not love those hands for their swift running?
And her I like that with a majesty,
Folds up her arms, and makes low courtesy.        30
To leave myself, that am in love with all,
Some one of these might make the chastest fall.
If she be tall, she’s like an Amazon,
And therefore fills the bed she lies upon:
If short, she lies the rounder: to speak troth,        35
Both short and long please me, for I love both.
I think what one undecked would be, being drest;
Is she attired? then show her graces best.
A white wench thralls me, so doth golden yellow:
And nut-brown girls in doing have no fellow.        40
If her white neck be shadowed with brown hair,
Why so was Leda’s, yet was Leda fair.
Amber-tress’d is she? Then on the morn think I:
My love alludes to every history:
A young wench pleaseth, and an old is good,        45
This for her looks, that for her womanhood:
Nay what is she, that any Roman loves,
But my ambitious ranging mind approves?

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