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.
Epigrams on Priapus
(From Priapeia. London. 1889)

IN play, Priapus, (thou canst testify),
Songs, fit for garden not for book-work, I
Wrote and none over-care applied thereto.
No Muses dared I (like the Verseful Crew)
Invite to visit such invirginal site.        5
For heart and senses did forbid me quite
To set the choir Pierian, chaste and fair,
Before Priapus’ tool—such deed to dare.
Then whatsoe’er I wrote when idly gay,
And on this Temple-wall for note I lay,        10
Take in good part: such is the prayer I pray.
Darkly might I to thee say: Oh give me for ever and ever
  What thou may’st constantly give while of it nothing be lost;
Give me what vainly thou’lt long to bestow in the days that are coming,
  When that invidious beard either soft cheek shall invade;        15
What unto Jove gave he who, borne by the worshipful flyer,
  Mixes the gratefullest cups, ever his leman’s delight;
What on the primal night maid gives to her love-longing bridegroom
  Dreading ineptly the hurt dealt to a different part.
Simpler far to declare in our Latin, Lend me thy buttocks;        20
  What shall I say to thee else? Dull’s the Minerva of me.
These tablets, sacred to the Rigid God,
From Elephantis’ obscene booklets drawn,
Lalage offers and she prays thee try
To ply the painted figures’ every part.        25
All the conditions (they say) Priapus made with the youngling,
    Written in verses twain mortals hereunder can read:
“Whatso my garden contains to thee shall be lawfullest plunder
If unto us thou give whatso thy garden contains.”
Though I be wooden Priapus (as thou see’st),
With wooden sickle and a prickle of wood,
Yet will I seize thee, Girl! and hold thee seized
And This, however gross, withouten fraud
Stiffer than lyre-string or than twisted rope
I’ll thrust and bury to thy seventh rib.        35
Matrons avoid this site, for your chaste breed
’Twere vile these verses impudique to read.
They still come on and not a doit they heed!
O’ermuch these matrons know and they regard
With willing glances this my vasty yard.        40
Why laugh such laughter, O most silly maid?
My form Praxiteles nor Scopas hewed:
To me no Phidian handwork finish gave;
But me a bailiff hacked from shapeless log,
And quoth my maker, “Thou Priapus be!”        45
Yet on me gazing forthright gigglest thou
And holdest funny matter to deride
The pillar perking from the groin of me.
Will ever Telethusa, posture-mime,
Who with no tunic veiling hinder cheeks        50
Higher than her vitals heaves with apter geste
Wriggle to please thee with her wavy loins?
So thee, Priapus, not alone she’ll move
E’en Phaedra’s stepson shall her movement rouse.
Hither, Quirites! (here what limit is?)
Either my member seminal lop ye off
Which thro’ the livelong nights for aye fatigue
The neighbour-women rutting endlessly,
Lewder than sparrows in the lusty spring;
Or I shall burst and ye Priapus lose.        60
How I be futtered-out yourselves espy
Used-up, bejaded, lean and pallid grown,
Who erstwhile ruddy, in my doughtiness wont
To kill with poking thieves however doughty.
My side has failed me and poor I with cough        65
The perilous spittle ever must outspew.
What shouldest say this spear (although I’m wooden) be wishing
  Whenas a maiden chance me in the middle to kiss?
Here none augur we need: believe my word she is saying:—
  “Let the rude spear in me work with its natural wont!”        70
’Tis not enough, my friends, I set my seat
Where earth gapes chinky under Canicule,
Ever enduring thirsty summer’s drought.
’Tis not enough the showers flow down my breast
And beat the hail-storms on my naked hair,        75
With beard fast frozen, rigid by the rime.
’Tis not enough that days in labor spent
Sleepless I lengthen through the nights as long.
Add that a godhead terrible of staff
Hewed me the rustic’s rude unartful hand        80
And made me vilest of all deities,
Invoked as wooden guardian of the gourds.
And more, for shameless note to me was ’signed
With lustful nerve a pyramid distent,
Whereto a damsel (whom well nigh I’d named)        85
Is with her fornicator wont to come
And save in every mode Philaenis tells
Futtered, in furious lust her way she wends.
What then? Had Trojan yard Taenerian dame and her Cunnus
  Never delighted, of song never a subject had he:        90
But for the Tantalid’s tool being known to Fame and well noted
  Old man Chryses had naught left him for making his moan.
This did his mate dispoil of a fond affectionate mistress
  And of a prize not his plundered Aeacides,
He that aye chaunted his dirge of distress to the lyre Pelethronian,        95
  Lyre of the stiff taut string, stiffer the string of himself.
Ilias, noble poem, was gotten and born of such direful
  Ire, of that Sacred Song such was original cause.
Matter of different kind was the wander of crafty Ulysses:
  An thou would verity know Love too was motor of this.        100
Hence does he gather the root whence springs that aureate blossom
  Which whenas “Moly” hight, “Moly” but “Mentula” means.
Here too of Circe we read and Calypso, daughter of Atlas,
  Bearing the mighty commands dealt by Dulichian Brave
Whom did Alcinous’ maiden admire by cause of his member        105
  For with a leafy branch hardly that yard could be clad.
Yet was he hasting his way to regain his little old woman:
  Thy coynte (Penelope!) claiming his every thought;
Thou who bidest so chaste with mind ever set upon banquets
  And with a futtering crew alway thy palace was filled:        110
Then that thou learn of these which were most potent of swiving,
  Wont wast thou to bespeak, saying to suitors erect:—
“Than my Ulysses none was better at drawing the bowstring
  Whether by muscles of side or by superior skill;
And, as he now is deceased, do ye all draw and inform me        115
  Which of ye men be the best so that my man he become.”
Thy heart, Penelope, right sure by such pow’r I had pleased,
  But at the time not yet had I been made of mankind.
By Albius Tibullus (attributed): Concerning the Inertia of His Privy Member

What news be here? what send those angry gods?
Whenas in silent night that snow-hued boy        120
To my warm bosom claspèd lay concealed,
Venus was dormant nor in manly guise
My sluggard prickle raised his senile head.
Art pleased (Priapus!) under leafy tree
Wont with vine-tendrils sacred sconce to wreathe        125
And seat thee ruddy with thy ruddled yard?
But, O Triphallus, oft with freshest flowers
Artlessly garlanded thy brow we crowned
And with loud shouting often drove from thee.
What aged Raven or what agile Daw        130
Would peck thy holy face with horny beak.
Farewell, Priapus! naught to thee owe I
Farewell, forsaker damn’d of private parts!
Pale with neglect amid the fields shalt lie
Where savage bandog shall bepiss thee or        135
Wild boar shall rub thee with his ribs mud-caked.
Accursed Organ! Oh, by whom my pains
Shall with sore righteous penalty be paid?
Howe’er thou ’plain, no more shall tender boy
Ope to thy bidding, nor on groaning bed        140
His mobile buttocks writhe with aiding art:
Nor shall the wanton damsel’s legier hand
Stroke thee, or rub on thee her lubric thigh.
A two-fanged mistress, Romulus old remembering,
Awaits thee; middlemost whose sable groin        145
And hide time-loosened thou with coynte-rime bewrayed
And hung in cobwebs fain shalt block the way.
Such prize is thine who thrice and four times shalt
Engulf thy lecherous head in fosse profound.
Though sick or languid lie thou, still thou must        150
Rasp her till wretched, wretched thou shalt fill
Thrice or e’en fourfold times her cavernous gape;
And naught this haughty sprite shall ’vail thee when
Plunging thine errant head in plashing mire.
Why lies it lazy? Doth its sloth displease thee?        155
For once thou mayest weaken it unavenged;
But when that golden boy again shall come
Soon as his patter on the path shalt hear,
Grant that a restless swelling rouse my nerve
Lustful a-sudden and upraise it high,        160
Nor cease excite it and excite it more
Till wanton Venus burst my weaked side.

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