Ovid (Publius Ovidius Naso) trans. Michael Smith

Aestus erat, mediamque dies exegerat horam;
adposui medio membra levanda toro.
pars adaperta fuit, pars altera clausa fenestrae;
quale fere silvae lumen habere solent,
qualia sublucent fugiente crepuscula Phoebo,
aut ubi nox abiit, nec tamen orta dies.
illa verecundis lux est praebenda puellis,
qua timidus latebras speret habere pudor.
ecce, Corinna venit, tunica velata recincta,
candida dividua colla tegente coma,
qualiter in thalamos famosa Semiramis isse
dicitur, et multis Lais amata viris.

Deripui tunicam; nec multum rara nocebat;
pugnabat tunica sed tamen illa tegi.
quae cum ita pugnaret, tamquam quae vincere nollet,
victa est non aegre proditione sua.
ut stetit ante oculos posito velamine nostros,
in toto nusquam corpore menda fuit.
quos umeros, quales vidi tetigique lacertos!
forma papillarum quam fuit apta premi!
quam castigato planus sub pectore venter!
quantum et quale latus! quam iuvenale femur!

Singula quid referam? nil non laudabile vidi
et nudam pressi corpus ad usque meum.
Cetera quis nescit? lassi requievimus ambo.
proveniant medii sic mihi saepe dies!

The sun beat. Midday had come and gone.
I sprawled my jaded limbs across the bed;
while through the half-closed window blew in
such tenuous light as greyly glimmers
in a summer wood, or such as hovers in the air
at sunset or a slow unfolding dawn;
affording such seclusion from the light
that bashful girls may nonetheless stay coy.
Her white neck glancing through her parting hair
then came Corinna in a wave of gown,
as went Semiramis ready for her bed
or wanted Lais ready for her men.
I reached for her gown, of course, which being thin,
my fingers came away with the air they grasped;
her gown resisted with a stubborn will
while Corinna looked on indifferent;
or when she fought she surely fought for me,
posturing precisely to her sliding gown
which, when it fell away around her feet,
lay bare a flawless beauty to the eye.
What shoulder, arms, to touch and see were hers!
What breasts were these she pressed towards me to kiss!
What smoothness this below her slender waist!
What hips! What legs! What lusty thighs! What feet!
But choice enumeration proves unjust
for all I saw cries out for commendation.
I pressed her naked body close to mine.
You know the rest. And afterwards we slept.
May middays such as this come soon again.

Click here 5 for another translation of this poem.

Trans. Copyright © Michael Smith 2007

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