by Gaius Cornelius Gallus (70 BCE - 26 BCE)
Translation by Charles Isaac Elton, QC (1839 - 1900)

To Lydia
Language: English  after the Latin 
Lydia! girl of prettiest mien,
And fairest skin, that e'er were seen:
Lilies, cream, thy cheeks disclose;
The ruddy and the milky rose;
Smooth thy limbs as ivory shine,
Burnished from the Indic mine.
Oh, sweet girl! those ringlets spread,
Long and loose, from all thy head;
Glistening like gold in yellow light
O'er thy falling shoulders white.
Show, sweet girl! thy starry eyes,
And black-bent brows that arching rise:
Show, sweet girl! thy rose-bloom cheeks,
Which Tyre's vermillion scarlet streaks:
Drop those pouting lips to mine,
Those ripe, those coral lips of thine.
Give me, soft, a velvet kiss
Dovelike glued in searching bliss:
You suck my breath! oh Heaven! remove
Your lips — I faint — my sweetest love!
Your kisses — hold! they pierce my heart:
I feel thee in each vital part:
Hold — thou wicked creature! why
Suck my life's blood, thus cruelly?
Hide those breasts, that rise and fall,
Those twinned apples, round and small;
Full with balmy juices flowing,
Now just budding, heaving, growing;
Breathing from their broadened zone
Opening sweets of cinnamon.
Delicacies round thee rise:
Hide those globes — they wound mine eyes
With their white and dazzling glow,
With their luxury of snow!
Cruel! see you not I languish,
Thrilling with ecstatic anguish?
Do you leave me; leave me lying,
Almost fainting, almost dying?

Confirmed with Poetica Erotica. A Collection of Rare and Curious Amatory Verse, ed. by Thomas Robert Smith, New York: Boni and Liveright, 1921-1922.


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Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]