from ARS AMATORIA - Ifrom THE ART OF LOVE - I
Ovidtrans. Len Krisak
Nec te nobilium fugiat certamen equorum;
Multa capax populi commoda Circus habet.
Nil opus est digitis, per quos arcana loquaris,
Nec tibi per nutus accipienda nota est:
Proximus a domina, nullo prohibente, sedeto,
Iunge tuum lateri qua potes usque latus;
Et bene, quod cogit, si nolis, linea iungi,
Quod tibi tangenda est lege puella loci.
Hic tibi quaeratur socii sermonis origo,
Et moveant primos publica verba sonos.
Cuius equi veniant, facito, studiose, requiras:
Nec mora, quisquis erit, cui favet illa, fave.
At cum pompa frequens caelestibus ibit eburnis,
Tu Veneri dominae plaude favente manu;
Utque fit, in gremium pulvis si forte puellae
Deciderit, digitis excutiendus erit:
Etsi nullus erit pulvis, tamen excute nullum:
Quaelibet officio causa sit apta tuo.
Pallia si terra nimium demissa iacebunt,
Collige, et inmunda sedulus effer humo;
Protinus, oficii pretium, patiente puella
Contingent oculis crura videnda tuis.
Respice praeterea, post vos quicumque sedebit,
Ne premat opposito mollia terga genu.
Parva leves capiunt animos: fuit utile multis
Pulvinum facili composuisse manu.
Profuit et tenui ventos movisse tabella,
Et cava sub tenerum scamna dedisse pedem.
Remember gallant horses, too (I mean the races):
The Circus hides so many public places,
With no necessity for secret~signalling hands,
Or nods that tell you that she understands.
Just sit beside her; it's the open-seating plan,
So nudge against her thigh the best you can.
Like it or not, the seats mean closeness, and that's good;
Tight spaces leave you touching where you should.
Look for an opening for harmless social chat,
Starting with public words (what's wrong with that?).
Ask earnestly whose horses now are coming in,
Then quickly back her favourites to win.
And when the ivory parade of gods goes by,
Clap loud for Lady Venus - don't be shy.
Say that a speck of dust should fall into her lap;
Flick it away with a quick finger-snap.
If nothing's there, then flick that nothing anyway.
Find any old excuse, then ... seize the day!
And if her hem should hang, dragging the ground a bit,
Save earth and hem by neatly lifting it.
This wins a prize (if she permits): you get the chance
To give her legs a momentary glance.
There's more: be sure you know whose knees those are one row
Behind: her soft back isn't where they go.
The simple mind will find delight in trifles: much
May come from cushions lent an artful touch.
Also, a little fan can help to keep her cool;
Then prop her tender feet up with a stool.

Trans. Copyright © Len Krisak 2003 - publ. P.N.Review Vol.29, No.3


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