SEEING THOU ART FAIR
by: Ovid (43 BC-17 AD?)
- EEING thou
art fair, I bar not thy false playing,
- But let not me poor soul know of thy straying.
- Nor do I give thee counsel to live chaste,
- But that thou would'st dissemble, when 'tis past.
- She hath not trod awry, that doth deny it.
- Such as confess have lost their good names by it.
- What madness is't to tell night-pranks by day?
- And hidden secrets openly to bewray?
- The strumpet with the stranger will not do,
- Before the room be clear, and door put-to,
- Will you make shipwreck of your honest name,
- And let the world be witness of the same?
- Be more advised, walk as a puritan,
- And I shall think you chaste, do what you can.
- Slip still, only deny it when 'tis done,
- And, before folk, immodest speeches shun.
- The bed is for lascivious toyings meet,
- There use all tricks, and tread shame under feet.
- When you are up and dressed, be sage and grave,
- And in the bed hide all the faults you have.
- Be not ashamed to strip you, being there,
- And mingle thighs, yours ever mine to bear.
- There in your rosy lips my tongue entomb,
- Practise a thousand sports when there you come.
- Forbear no wanton words you there would speak,
- And with your pastime let the bedstead creak
- But with your robes put on an honest face,
- And blush and seem as you were full of grace.
- Deceive all; let me err; and think I'm right,
- And like a wittol think thee void of slight.
- Why see I lines so oft received and given?
- This bed and that by tumbling made uneven?
- Like one start up your hair tost and displaced,
- And with a wanton's tooth your neck new-rased.
- Grant this, that what you do I may not see;
- If you weigh not ill speeches, yet weigh me.
- My soul fleets when I think what you have done.
- And through every vein doth cold blood run.
- Then thee whom I must love, I hate in vain,
- And would be dead, but dead with thee remain.
- I'll not sift much, but hold thee soon excused,
- Say but thou wert injuriously accused.
- Though while the deed be doing you be took,
- And I see when you ope the two-leaved book,
- Swear I was blind; deny, if you be wise,
- And I will trust your words more than mine eyes.
- From him that yields, the palm is quickly got,
- Teach but your tongue to say, "I did it not,"
- And being justified by two words think
- The cause acquits you not, but I that wink.
- TRANSLATED INTO ENGLISH BY
POEMS BY OVID
"Seeing Thou Art Fair"
is reprinted from Poetica Erotica. Ed. T.R. Smith. New
York: Crown Publishers, 1921.