from ARS AMATORIA - Ifrom THE ART OF LOVE - I
Ovidtrans. Len Krisak
Sed prius ancillam captandae nosse puellae
Cura sit: accessus molliet illa tuos.
Proxima consiliis dominae sit ut illa, videto,
Neve parum tacitis conscia fida iocis.
Hanc tu pollicitis, hanc tu corrumpe rogando:
Quod petis, ex facili, si volet illa, feres.
Illa leget tempus (medici quoque tempora servant)
Quo facilis dominae mens sit et apta capi.
Mens erit apta capi tum, cum laetissima rerum
Ut seges in pingui luxuriabit humo.
Pectora dum gaudent nec sunt adstricta dolore,
Ipsa patent, blanda tum subit arte Venus.
Tum, cum tristis erat, defensa est Ilios armis:
Militibus gravidum laeta recepit equum.
Tum quoque temptanda est, cum paelice laesa dolebit:
Tum facies opera, ne sit inulta, tua.
Hanc matutinos pectens ancilla capillos
Incitet, et velo remigis addat opem,
Et secum tenui suspirans murmure dicat
'At, puto, non poteras ipsa referre vicem.'
Tum de te narret, tum persuadentia verba
Addat, et insano iuret amore mori.
Sed propera, ne vela cadant auraeque residant:
Ut fragilis glacies, interit ira mora.
Quaeris, an hanc ipsam prosit violare ministram?
Talibus admissis alea grandis inest.
First, cultivate your love's coiffeuse, for with her aid,
You'll smooth your entrée to the choice you've made.
Be sure she's privy to your mistress' thoughts and cares,
And circumspect with all your love's affairs.
Corrupt this lady's maid with promises and prayers.
(Your love-success depends on what she shares.)
She'll choose the time (the choice a doctor's always making)
Milady's heart is ripest for the taking.
She's ripest for that taking when she's full of life -
A fertile field where golden grain grows rife.
The heart set free by grief lies open; that's the heart
That waits for Venus's seductive art.
Troy wept in gloom defending what was dear by force
Of arms, but leapt for joy to have that horse!
So try her when she's rival-wounded; watch her sob,
Then see she gets revenge. Make it your job.
The morning maid can urge her mistress on - both sails
And oars - at the coiffeur. (It never fails.)
After a heartfelt little sigh, the maid should say,
'I guess there's just no way to make him pay.'
Then have her talk you up with hints and suasive praises:
You're 'mad'! Insane! A love that burns and blazes!
Move fast, before sails droop and breezes blow away;
Like brittle ice, wrath melts when you delay.
What's that you ask? Seduce the maid herself? Think twice
About the risk before you roll those dice.

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


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