from ARS AMATORIA - IIIfrom THE ART OF LOVE - III
Ovidtrans. Len Krisak
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Ulteriora pudet docuisse: sed alma Dione
'Praecipue nostrum est, quod pudet' inquit 'opus.'
Nota sibi sit quaeque: modos a corpore certos
Sumite: non omnes una figura decet.
Quae facie praesignis erit, resupina iaceto:
Spectentur tergo, quis sua terga placent.
Milanion umeris Atalantes crura ferebat:
Si bona sunt, hoc sunt accipienda modo.
Parva vehatur equo: quod erat longissima, numquam
Thebais Hectoreo nupta resedit equo.
Strata premat genibus, paulum cervice reflexa,
Femina per longum conspicienda latus.
Cui femur est iuvenale, carent quoque pectora menda,
Stet vir, in obliquo fusa sit ipsa toro.
Nec tibi turpe puta crinem, ut Phylleia mater,
Solvere, et effusis colla reflecte comis.
Tu quoque, cui rugis uterum Lucina notavit,
Ut celer aversis utere Parthus equis.
Mille modi veneris; simplex minimique laboris,
Cum iacet in dextrum semisupina latus.
Sed neque Phoebei tripodes nec corniger Ammon
Vera magis vobis, quam mea Musa, canet:
Siqua fides arti, quam longo fecimus usu,
Credite: praestabunt carmina nostra fidem.
Sentiat ex imis venerem resoluta medullis
Femina, et ex aequo res iuvet illa duos.
Nec blandae voces iucundaque murmura cessent,
Nec taceant mediis improba verba iocis.
Tu quoque, cui veneris sensum natura negavit,
Dulcia mendaci gaudia finge sono.
Infelix, cui torpet hebes locus ille, puella,
Quo pariter debent femina virque frui.
Tantum, cum finges, ne sis manifesta, caveto:
Effice per motum luminaque ipsa fidem.
Quam iuvet, et voces et anhelitus arguat oris;
A! pudet, arcanas pars habet ista notas.
Gaudia post Veneris quae poscet munus amantem,
Illa suas nolet pondus habere preces.
Nec lucem in thalamos totis admitte fenestris;
Aptius in vestro corpore multa latent.

Lusus habet finem: cygnis descendere tempus,
Duxerunt collo qui iuga nostra suo.
Ut quondam iuvenes, ita nunc, mea turba, puellae
Inscribant spoliis 'Naso magister erat.'
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I blush to teach what follows, but ... hear Venus chide,
'In blushing matters, I'm your special guide.'
Ladies should know their bodies, choosing what is best
For them; one manner may not fit the rest.
If you're another pretty face, then lie back flat;
But if your back's the charm, then show him that.
Milanion set Atalanta's legs to rest
Around his neck; do your legs pass the test?
You little women, 'ride the horse'. Poor Hector's wife,
Too tall, could never ride him all her life.
If your long legs look good, then make the most of it;
Kneel on the bed, your neck bent back a bit.
With youthful thighs, and breasts fault-free, you ought to lie
Slant-wise across the bed; have him stand by.
Like some Thessalian mother, let your hair fly free;
Toss back your head so men can clearly see.
Lucina may have written on your flesh, of course.
If so, play Parthian; turn around your horse.
Love's thousand modes! Here's one that's easy on the spine:
Try lying right-side down, semi-supine.
But neither horny Ammon nor Apollo sings
You truer words than those my own Muse brings.
If you can trust an art I've practised hard and long,
Believe me and the good faith of my song.
Deep down, the woman should feel wrung by venery -
An act to please both sexes equally.
Don't stint on teasing talk; on moaning, purring, humming;
In sex play, keep the less-than-proper coming.
And that includes the girl so frigid she can't feel;
Cry out with joy - even if it's not real.
(It's sad when in that special place (I don't mean bed)
Where couples ought to share, the girl is dead.)
But when you fake it, don't be obvious; compel
Belief with rolling eyes, so he can't tell.
To prove you're satisfied, let words and panting show.
(Too bad our parts have secret signals, though!)
The girl who begs a small 'gift' moments after sex
Is not about to get what she expects.
And by the way: keep windows shut - too much clear light,
When bodies should be mostly out of sight.

Our revels now are ended. Swans whose necks were bending
To draw us on, now halt. Time for descending.
As young men marked their trophies once before, just so
The girls now: 'Naso taught us all we know.'

Click here 2 for another translation of this poem.

Trans. Copyright © Len Krisak 2003 - publ. P.N.Review Vol.30, No.1


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