Blue square — commentary note. Green square — translation.
1. TO THE MOST SERENE PRINCE CHARLES OF BRITTAIN
I am not giving you an old book, right noble Prince, since it has already been given you. But if you bid it come, it will perhaps bring a new splendor, and will now be improved, since it knows it is yours.
2. TO THE READER
If you encounter some wanton sport or easy humor here, reader, you should understand it was written in the springtime of my life, when Venus held sway. After that, my Muse fell silent and Ceres was my greater concern. Apollo led me into medical fields and taught me to set English words to music. For I have always held him in uniquely high honor and cheerfully obeyed his commands. What was I to do? And yet at another time, lo, Phoebus called out to me, describing that crime of gunpowder, echoing his words with his lyre as he sang sweetly of fearful things. With this he so suffused my mind and spirit that I was compelled to set down on paper (albeit with ill recollection) the things the god had sung to me with his wonderful artfulness. Hence my old Muse has returned to me, but greater, having learned to speak with some gravity. Now she is not unwilling to dictate new and different things to me, all of which, candid reader, I pass on to you.
3. TO HIS BOOK
Go now, little book, allow whatever foolish trifles you possess and have long been condemned to darkness to come to light with the help of a more learned spokesman, so that you have been printed elegantly enough, not needing new brilliance, and go to both my Michelbornes, those well-deserving friends excellently conjoined to me by age, similar pursuits, and affection. With them as your champions you will have no reason to fear as you pass among the lofty waves of the heaving sea to visit the Rhine, the Seine, the lofty Tiber, or the Tajo that flows with its gold.
4. TO PEACE, CONCERNING OUR RIGHT AUGUST QUEEN ELIZABETH
Oh Peace, you unique glory of our blessed lands, how gladly I kiss you, you lovely mother, guardian of affairs, and kindly preserver! Should I not worship her in all my words and deeds, since she alone keeps you safe for us? Shall I ever fear to die for her sake? Who would ever be so mad as to wish her betrayed to foreigners, she who bestows peace both on her subjects at home and on foreign men?
5. ON CALVUS
Today, Calvus, I had a good laugh seeing how you battened on each and every one of your acquaintances. Even if he was preoccupied and moving at a run, you would stop him, and hold him back, grasping his gown. Then you would ask him if he was intending to buy a large horse, fine and strong. And, making yourself hateful, you did not cease asking that of each man three hundred times over. Indeed, you pestered me ten times about that same thing, and I recall how bothersome it was. Meanwhile, if any man could draw a sketch of your nag as it actually was, mangy, shrivelled, gingerly raising its diseased hooves, that artist could sooner sell his picture than you could sell your horse.
6. TO CLONIUS
Is this what I’m seeking? “If you persuade me,” you say. Is this how you always mock us, foolish Clonius? Would that I could persuade you of this one thing: that you should swiftly go hang, you wretch.
7. ON CRISPUS
Crispus likes his friends, just as greedy Lycorus likes her lovers, the book-seller Casinus likes his volumes, the townsman Vincentius his customers, lawyer Caccula his clients, and preacher Helix his sacraments I shall not praise these things, because they do not deserve genuine liking. Rather, all of these things are wont to profit their adherents.
8. ON CALVUS
At the theater just now, Calvus, when I saw you clinging to the side of an elegant girl and eagerly trying to engage her in conversation, for your sake I soon uttered a prayer to Venus, Elegance and Love that you wouldn’t boorishly ask her something about that huge horse of yours.
9. ON THE DEATH OF WALTER DEVEREUX, BROTHER OF THE RIGHT DISTINGUISHED EARL OF ESSEX
That impious man who first bade balls fly, arousing hollowed-out iron with his fire, had a bloody hand and a savage heart. What an opportunity lies open for the fickle goddess to strike men both bad and good alike! What good is the lofty fortitude of a passionate mind, or the sinews of the body? Balls go a-flying, preceded by darkness and clouds of black. The terror of the sound shakes heaven and earth. Devereux, you single supporting brother of a famous commander, the malign Fates have destroyed your person with their accursed fire and, tottering on your fatal horse as a bitter burden, you return to your own men, borne up to the lofty ridge. Now you lie, carried on a car with its creaking wheels, a sad parade for your brother and for all good men. So the Rhone will perish. it will fall as the bugle sings its wild song, and you will stand among the beings of heaven as a shade that has been avenged.
10. TO MELLEA
Oh Mellea, always truly my beloved, oh you pious concern of my heart, what reason I have constantly to fear for you!
Although Apollo shoots his golden beams on you from on high, I am tormented lest a false lover should chance to lurk with in them.
And I shudder at the wind-driven rains falling on your lap from the sky, lest their gentle shower bring the mad Thunderer.
I am provoked by all these things, both in my dreams and wakeful, fearful by night and by day, often seeking to see whether someone could be hiding in your shadow.
11. ON THE PASSING OF THAT RIGHT NOBLE KNIGHT SIR PHILIP SIDNEY
You birds belonging to the mother of the winged Loves, why do you seek in vain for Philip among the sweet violets and the lovely roses, always singing Philip, Philip to the thornbrakes? For Orcus has lately received him, shot through, when that youth sought to surpass all men in his military reputation. Tell Venus of Philip’s deadly ending, so that she may mourn for her Loves’ bard.
12. ON MELLEA
Mellea promises me seven kisses if I depart. She gives me seven, yet I linger no less. Good! This one deception eludes clever girls, that kisses always entail longer delays.
13. ON A PENKNIFE
What smith, angry at Venus, so regrettably forged your iron with his dire hand, little knife? Thanks to you, this pretty girl’s lips are dripping with blood, ah how much nectar is going to waste! Alas, alas, the house resounds with the girl’s lamentation. She is in a rage, such great fear attends her pain. Nor does she ever calm down. She’s unable to speak, and also to kiss (which is the saddest thing of all). And you, you rascal, dripping drops, will pay forfeits to Eros, although quite overdue.
14. TO CASPIA
The maiden Mellea has been raped, and swears it was against her will. I ask why she declined to betray the malefactor with a scream. The naughty girl answers that she wanted to, but feared to be found alone with a man. Oh what an outstanding sense of shame and ready modesty, such as I would hope for you, cruel Caspia!
15. TO THE SAME
Caspia, you mimic the Persian Phoenix, which never burns for shared loves, but rather is born from its own fire. You are equally isolated, and you alone shun the company of lovers and conjoined torches. But you should not be mad, and await the day of that bird which comes back to life and its destiny, so full of life. For beauty’s flame cannot make you its equal, not even if golden Venus and the Graces let themselves to be turned into pretty ash.
16. TO LABIENUS
You say that what a woman desires to keep concealed is not a sin. But she who conceals it commits a sin, Labienus, although less so.
17. ON CARINUS
Carinus I frequently ponder (but in vain) the meaning of that red face of yours. For the cost involved deters you from being a wine-bibber, and a miser’s dinner is spiced by nothing more than ice-cold hunger. Furthermore, you squalid fellow, you often go to bed without your supper, and, parched with thirst, experience vain dreams. A hungry man’s face is more marked with pallor than redness, and gaunt starvation creates livid marks. Therefore I ask what causes your flushed complexion. Perhaps you acquire this appearance by artfully painting yourself, but, even if you color the rest of your face I do not see why you want to paint your nose, so I’m quite baffled and troubled.
18. ON MELLEA
When solicitous Nature gave you great beauty, Mellea, she forgot to give you faithfulness.
19. TO CALVUS
Calvus, you give me a sword while wearing an Italian expression, and I quickly accept it after the British manner. This annoys you. So now I am attempting to give it back, but I do know in what manner.
20. TO NAEVOLA
Cease, Naevola, for this is a crime, and don’t try to ruin the kiss Mellea offers me. He who murders with steel, or pierces a heart with an unbending sword, separates an earthly mass from its soul. But he who rudely interferes with lovers’ sweet kisses separates souls united in heaven
21. TO CALVUS
When a woman grows pale don’t call her pallid, Calvus, if you want to behave like a gentleman. When she is praised a woman refreshes her fading color, which is wholly suppressed when fault is found with her beauty.
22. ON LYCUS
When you promised yourself a late death, Lycus, you weren’t aware of that stone lurking in your kidney.
23. TO LUCIUS
Being very slender myself, I envy the corpulent. He who is quite fat strikes me as quite well off. For his mind is always a blank, he takes pleasure in his body, and banishes cares and sadness with his laughter. And this, Lucius, is among his chief advantages, that when it comes time for him to die he does so with minimal effort.
24. TO MARINUS
You attach little value to the best poets. You praise historians and like prose, plodding Marinus. Nor have you any time for fables sprinkled with wit. But why is Plato a writer admired by one and all, Marinus? Because he is full of fables.
25. ON MAURUS
Maurus has written three elegies and the like number of epigrams, and he’s petitioning the Muses to be accounted the ninth poet.
26. ON COTTA
In summers, his fat wife, the Dogstar, the torrid Zone and his couch urge Cotta to sleep in his garden.
27. ON CATULLUS AND MARTIAL
Catullus used to sing mere love songs. But, like a forest, in his slim volumes Martial commingled all sorts of material: praises and reproaches, congratulations and diatribes, witticism and serious stuff, the highest and the lowest. So the former is great in the eyes of the multitudes, while the latter is well-liked by those of cultivated taste.
28. TO MEROE
You hope to play the husband to whores, snooty Meroe. Thus I think your snoot can be reduced to half its size.
29. TO LUPUS
No force can prevail against a brave man, and I admit it. But then, Lupus, who will be brave?
30. TO HAEMUS
You commit the names of the dying to what you justly call your Black Book of Death. But, Haemus, if you want to be a pious and cheerful notary, you should list the living, and thus your book will be a White Album.
31. TO OTTWELL
As often as Ottwell the barber sees me with long hair he fawns upon me, although he scarcely bids me good day when I am wearing it short. Are men with long hair dear and beloved to barbers, just as they are to their girl friends, because the latter are affected by beauty, and the both of them by profit?
31A. ON LARGUS
Largus has written a fine history, for he knows who has had a meal or a drink at his house these past six years.
32. TO PHILOCHERMUS
Music, which could make rivers stand still and move rocks, moves you in no way, shape or form. So, Philochermus, you should dread the tarantula’s bite. For when you have been bitten you die, if you find music unwelcome.
33. TO JANUS
Why, Janus, does it displease you that people love your wife? Do you want a wife nobody can love?
34. AD LAURENCE MICHELBORNE
Who will supplicate you with his prayers, Sleep, you who are such a deaf and stupid god, you who permits me to lie awake in my soft bed for six nights in a a row, and for my restless heart and eyes to be troubled by weary, rambling thought? But after I have been entertained by your witticisms and your guest-room, Laurence, welcome sleep overcame my eyes. In exchange for this favor, Laurence, if any girl complains of the hours she spends gazing at her pretty face in a mirror, I shall send you this elegant god of sleep.
35. TO JUSTINIAN
Justinian, you say that your cousin’s breath smells of violets, laurel, and thyme, and that her cheeks and lips are, as it were, colored with rouge. But though her lip and cheeks are painted with rouge itself and her breath is redolent of flowers, everything about her is borrowed, there’s nothing that’s her own.
36. ON COTTA
It’s not that I’m afraid you’ll speak of it if I tell you something, but rather that you might add something extra.
37. TO CASPIA
When your face grows grim it threatens bitter anger, but when it is serene it offers hope. I am always living in dread, Caspia, since I know you full well.
When you are raging you push back your hair and draw blood with your harsh bite. Your hand twists (ah, too skillfully) whatever it encounters.
This flash of lighting makes you terrible, but your furious hand makes you bloodthirsty, and so I fear you even if you are smiling or speaking sweetly.
Perhaps it is likewise that a fearful traveller catches sight of a sleeping lion in a forest and, turning away,, takes care lest the beast be awakened.
While you are borne along uncharted coasts, Manby, days and nights I bewail sails and gales. If it were possible, how I would wish that the man who stole you away from me would have his head ripped off by the wind, and have the filthy fellow’s gouged-out eyes hang down to his throat, so that no similar evil could issue from his mouth!
38. ON GALBA
Being born out of wedlock, Galba treats his son and his servant as if he were a faraway Persian or Indian, and imagines that he should not speak to people except in a haughty style and tone and with bared head, so that he might appear to be a strange visitor from abroad. Does not Galba play the fool enough and more?
39. ON NERVA
You refrain from the Lord’s Supper, Nerva, but are not absent because you’re a blind enemy of God, nor because you dislike bread or wine: indeed, they have a minor attraction. A twofold reason prevents you: first, that you don’t spend money on anything for your stomach, and second, that the meal is over too soon.
40. TO THAT RIGHT NOBLE MAN WILLIAM PERCY
William, you scion of the famous Percy clan, see how Old Man Winter is hurling down his snows and covering the mountain-tops, while a stormy south wind driven out of Thrace by the cold that assails us. A mist from the marsh steals away the daylight and the night is damp with clouds. So let your hearth perpetually blaze, and your plucked strings mollify harsh Jove. Let Bacchus foam up when poured into your cups, and your pleasant joking usher in a new springtime. Let your servant bring in new torches, and a friendly crew of Gloucester men fall upon you, both so they might both drink down Bacchus’ gentle madness and sport at their soft ease.
40A. CONCERNING THOMAS GRIMSTON AND JOHN GORING
I wonder what our Grimston, stout-hearted at arms, and Goring are doing among the French. No men could fare better in battle, but no land is more inimical to virtue.
40B. TO EDMUND SPENCER
Whether you are singing of glades, Spenser, or the terrible thunder of war, hang me if I don’t love you, and love you dearly.
41. TO BASSUS
A great man requires countless things, Bassus, but a greater man can get by without them all.
42. ON HYRCAMUS AND SABINUS
Sabinus has a great loathing for Hyrcamus, and Hyrcamus responds in kind towards Sabinus. You mock Hyrcamus’ hair and bad eyesight, Sabinus, and he makes fun of your beard, hairy, unmanageable, and, as it were, stained with shit. You both are dying of your mutual hatred, and are both unmanageable in your pride, being crabby, hypercritical, friendless and gloomy. Since the both of you are so like-minded, why do you get along so poorly?
43. ON RUFUS
Isba, an old woman, married you, Rufus, but lovingly declines to keep her unfriendly teeth so she might harm you. For just now she happily spit out the single well-worn one she possessed, and now you’re her sparrow and she’s your dove and will issue the most delightful murmurs from her gentle beak, giving you kisses you need not fear for their biting. Let unripe apples please the female palate, but wrinkled and hoary ones are helpful for men. Let it be permitted me to utter this wish for the new bridegroom, Rufus: may your bride never regain her teeth as long as she lives.
43A. ON CASPIA
If only Caspia, who always loathes me, would love me, oh how constant she would be in her love!
44. TO ACCA
You grant me a portion of your soul, but that is a part meant entirely to be enjoyed by yourself. Acca, grant me a part of yourself that I may enjoy.
45. ON CARINUS
I used to wonder in what way all those cushions of different colors, patterns, fabrics and shapes came into your dark lair, Carinus. Lately I have figured it out: namely that you rob all the taverns, stealing from them the ornaments for your little hovel. After you ply your plundering to force them to enter your strange home, they behave in this way (and it’s no surprise): I mean your cushions, Carinus, regard each other variously, and do so haughtily.
45A. ON A BUMPKIN
As a means of taunting his rival, a foolish lover made up a story that his grandfather had been changed by Jove into a prophetic acorn. But the rival said, “Don’t be impressed, girl. For his grandfather hanged from an oak for his crime.”
45B. ON BERINUS
Berinus eats three berries from a vine of ivy and immediately becomes a famous poet.
“Why me, wicked girl? Let me go, I’ve made up my mind, farewell, I shall travel through the world’s distant climes, or the shadows of the Underworld, far from your snares, and neither can the bright white and blushing red of your face, nor your brilliance call me back as I depart. Good-bye forever, naughty girl.” When she questioningly felt the threats of my wrath, stricken with shivering fear she fell at my feet. “What?” the poor girl said. “Do I deserve to die?
Have I, who am loving, committed such a horrible crime against you that you abandon me to my destruction, that you abandon your friends for my sake? Ah stop, curb your savage wrath, and do not destroy me undeservedly. See what you’re preparing to do. Now, in order to depart from me, you are sentencing yourself to exile. Stay. By these tears I beseech you, my beloved. Reconsider. As a lover, do not abandon your beloved.” At these words my chagrin blazed up anew, and I interrupted her when she was about to say more. “Treacherous girl, do you not fear any of the gods of heaven, or those crime-avenging torches of Adrasteas? Do you not pollute the seas, the lands, the stars with your falsehood, being faithless? Ah, that sweet pact uniting our ardors was broken and came to nought thanks to you, and yet you ask why sad silence overwhelms my heart? That shipwrecked sailor, cast up on a beach, presses those lips, that leg consecrated to me. I am distraught. Alas, at daybreak with these eyes I espied that very soldier leaving your door, and yet you ask why sad silence overwhelms my heart? Farewell, you wicked, depraved girl. Farewell, faithless one. Do not try to hold me back, and do not beg me in the name of that drop of water floating on your eyelids, though your heart is unaware of it. I am resolved. Look at me, you are seeing me for the last time. I’m going now, I bid you my final farewell.”Now I fall silent, and silence does overwhelm my heart. Fury immediately gives wings to my feet and I make my escape, wandering byways in solitude, loathing her, cursing myself and my friends. “Whatever hope you placed in delay you should place in flight.”
That heavenly boy smiled at my pointless wrath and softened my heart, a-boil to no good purpose. I reconsider, a gentle rain waters my cheeks. What’s this? My alienated hatred is engendering love, which calms my heaving ocean. I love, I burn, I go back. I see the wretched girl plunged in squalor, tears and darkness, and a supreme sense of shame scarcely prevents my mind from giving evidence of its helplessness. Finally, I contrived a playful delay by speaking of my dreams, telling of horrible visions, murders, woundings, and of her pale, gore-smeared face after she had been abandoned, or as she pursued me over lofty mountain ridges. My true love taught me to invent these things. She played along, cleverly perceiving my deception yet quietly pretending to believe and showering me with wet kisses. Oh love’s sweet quarrel! Thus when they fight turtledoves join their beaks with sweet cooing.
46. ON THE DEATH OF A DOG
Cease fearing for your breakfasts, boys, henceforth you will not be prey for my dog, The common folk know, wandering the streets with their shredded garments, why they are peaceful now that he’s at peace.
47. ON GULLIBLE TOWNSMEN
London grants twelve men power over a single life, our fair city summons twelve jurymen. Hang me if, beyond the appearance and voices of men, twelve thousand of such fellows possess anything. For they depend on the judge for their common sense and intelligence, and left to their devices have no idea how to speak up in favor of those placed on trial. For, in the absence of a judge, who has seen an accused man’s life spared in this city within the span of twelve centuries?
48. TO MELLEA
Why me, wicked girl? Let me go, I’ve made up my mind, farewell. I shall visit the world’s faraway climes, or even the shades of the Underworld, far from your deceits. Nor should the the white and blushing red of your face hope to hold me back, nor should your expect to mollify me as I depart. Farewell forever, you Circe. You laugh, silly woman? Are you so amazed by the threats of an angry lover? Do you thus drench your cheeks with tears? Or are you smiling instead? Is my departure so sweet for you? Now I won’t go, so you’ll weep the more.
49. ON TURBO
Turbo, your ponderous steps frighten the gods of the Underworld, lest their roof collapse upon them.
50. ON CASPIA
My Caspia, you say “if you love me, cease doing to. You can keep those fires from scorching you.” Does the sky burst forth with leaves? Will the earth move the stars? Will the lamb not shiver when it hears the wolves? Now all nature must change into its opposite. Thus cruel Caspia will at length become gentle.
51. ON LYCUS
You can see that Lesbius is a pretty boy. You can see he sweetly adores you. You can see he drinks with you. But, Lyce, what he wantonly does behind your back, that you cannot see.
52. TO AFRA
Afra, your filthy face is proof that the city magistrate responsible for keeping the city clean is derelict in his duty.
53. TO CASPIA
Don’t cruelly love me. Don’t plant kisses on my lips or wrap your arms around my neck. I’ve done enough humble begging for these things, and you’ve done enough in denying them. Now I shall not tolerate being given these things, even if you desire. Come now, I’ve won. For if you are a true woman, you’ll give these to me thrice or four times over now that I am unwilling.
54. TO EROS
You make the fool wise, ruinous Eros, and you gently make fools out of those who were wise. The sage is wretchedly made wise by his loss. Oh, may I always be foolish, if only you are gentle, Eros!
55. TO PAULA
Paula, you cheerful old lady, I gladly thank you for your great good deeds, who sat beside me day by day when I was ailing, and used to keep up my sunken spirits with your chatter and easy laughter. Assuredly, I am unconcerned about your dull and silly mind. Your willingness should count for more with me. You had not imbibed a quiver full of witticisms, but you offered yourself to be laughed at by your friend.
56. TO CASPIA
While teaching nature’s secrets, Caspia, you inquire why tears seep out of hard stone. But, learned as you are, you should not stoop to foolish explanations, for those stones weep because they pity my tears.
57. ON BERINUS
Pray show me your darling, Berinus: not that I might steal her from you, but so I might avoid the mange.
58. ON ERRICUS
Does Lycus call you dregs? You dregs, Erricus? Ah, he says that undeservedly and wrongly. Dregs are made of better stuff, but you and your ancestry are entirely filth.
59. ON AEMILIA
Since she wants much to be given her and wants to please many men, the more upright Aemilia is, the more she is naughty. For Thais received payment for her services, whereas she takes nothing, but makes a profit on her uprightness. This matron keeps her face, hands and eyes chaste, and is shameless only in this one respect: that, although untouched by any man, she can delight all men and make them love her, something no slut can accomplish.
60. ON LYCIUS AND CLYTHA
The boy Lycius, seeing the girl Clytha reclined in sleep, furtively approached her and, taking her by the cheeks, he planted a kiss on her lips. Seeing she remained motionless, he gave her more kisses, and soon they became stronger. She remained as still as if she were in her tomb. The boy smiled, and attempted to gain the ultimate consolation. She still remains unmoving, but deceitfully endures all his deceits. What kind of slumber is this? Neither that goose nor the Sibyl were as wakeful as she. Now, seized by the same weariness, she daily returns to the same slumber.
61. ON THE SAME
Lycius constantly smiles when his Clytha is asleep. In her sleep Clytha smiles even more.
62. ON OVELLUS
Why should it be a disgrace for Ovellus to be greatly in debt? Wh oadmits that there’s need for trust?
63. TO MELLEA
I fear deceit whenever you call me handsome, Mellea, for thus an unwary lover is ensnared. Fancying himself to be comely, he imagines he is loved: wrongly, because he is deluded by his appearance.
63A. TO EDWARD MICHELBORNE
Since this is so dear to you, go ahead and murder fish with that reed of yours, even though some Pythagorean soul will mourn this, even though you yourself will lament when you are agitated by a shivering fever, or when your foot slips and you fall into deep water. You want the truth? Although nothing may be more delightful than this pursuit, I would not want you to waste your good time on it. How better for you to capture tender amours with elegies, or that your reed might amuse the goddess of the forest!
64. ON A BOASTFUL MAN
The roof-tiles fell on your head during the night-time, Hermus. They would scarcely have dared to do so in daylight.
65. ON PHARNACES
If Pharnaces takes a new servant into his household, he dies not, as other men do, study his face, his muscles, his interests, or his mental capacity, but rather how much he eats and drinks when he’s hungry.
65A. IN COTTUM
What does poor Cottus do but sing in vain, when he pleases nobody else but himself?
66. ON CASPIA
In the Elysian grove Dido, accompanying Sichaeus, waters her pale face with constant weeping and you, Narcissus, ever mindful of your old madness, disturb your reflection in the dark water. Whoever pines for unhappy love must endure punishment, having been received by the water of the Styx. Caspia, if some punishment waits in store for a man dying for your sake, let it be always to join his lips to yours.
66A. TO HYMETTUS
How come this loathing of your unwelcome life, sweet Hymettus, if you are not making your own self miserable? You don’t walk around on a club foot or a game leg, you are not blear-eyed, your nose does not gape. Your estate does not grow by means of unjust usury, and your mind is unburdened by any guilt for committing fraud or crime. You have no death of a brother or sister to bewail, and I have not heard you to grieve for your puppy. So in our friendship’s name I beg you to tell me, on what score is life hateful for you? Now I understand, you may stay silent. I remember you have great cause: you married. You may die now, I scarcely stand in your way.
67. ON CORVINUS
Corvinus often jokingly tells his friends that no man can produce sweeter verse, whether he is singing of nymphs or fierce battles, or of anything good or bad. He facetiously says this about himself so often that in the end the fool comes to believe himself.
68. TO MELBURNIA
They say that once Diana and her nymphs dwelt in forests and deserted places, abstaining from men, and that women under vows were secluded in nunneries, women on whom their religious reputation conferred the distinction of wearing black. But you, Melburnia, exist as a pretty, learned, and popular woman, marked by no desires both as a girl and as an old woman.
69. TO THOMAS MICHELBORNE
Since you are beginning to be the third of elegant brothers sporting with polished verses, Thomas, and are not letting your idle hours slide uselessly by, you make me resemble the blessed gods, so that now I rejoice in an odd number. I give myself to you all divided in three way, so that each of you may possess the whole Campion in turns, first, second, and third. So do not be anxious about receiving your share.
70. TO CHARLES FITZGEOFFREY
Charles, if you have anything devised over a lengthy period, it grows sweet just as fruit is sweetened by Apollo’s beams. Publish it, and do not abandon your excellent pursuits, pursuits such as the common run of mankind will ignore, but your good reputation will nevertheless acknowledge. Behold, the laurel freely offers you its greeny branches, and there is sweet glory in living with laurel.
71. TO MENUS
Hermus is in the habit of making a public announcement that he loves you, and how much he does. Thus too concerning your brothers, and likewise your father and all your kinsmen. But he keeps his silence concerning his wife, although his love for her surpasses that for you people. For who would wax envious over the example of a dear friend, whereas every lover attracts the jealousy of many? And so, Menus, you should disdain the inconsequential whispers of the common people. Do you want to place your trust in a credible witness? Then trust yourself. Jealous rumor scarcely ever relies on its own pinions, but, while winging its way, it dies while flying with those of an Icarus.
72. TO PAPILUS
When you were growing a beard such as Zeno or Cleanthes might wish for, Hanno cut it all off, having devised this great revenge against you since he was your enemy. In order to make this loss good, Papilus, you are preparing to go to law and, swollen with great wrath, you consult the lawyers. In their hope of profit and happiness they egg you on: they are acquainted with jurors who will appreciate what facial glory is lost and will take the matter seriously. They decide on a huge indemnification your enemy should pay. They urge these things, Papilius, and you eat it up. But listen to me for a moment, even if I am unskilled in both civil and canon law. Given that all these things are true, nevertheless your beard will regrow entirely, Papilus, before your case can come to trial.
73. TO PHILOMUSUS
Clearly, you do something silly and laughable, Philomusus, when you sing to a deaf man and a fool. For the deaf man admires everything, and yet he hears nothing, whereas the fool hears everything and approves of nothing.
74. ON MILVIUS
How many things befall living men which are like dreams, things they don’t willingly believe even when they see them clearly! Who is sufficiently amazed? That grim old gentleman, Milvius, who has emerged from the lowest dregs to sicken this earth, has become a noble knight, and throughout the city debauches this matron, that one, and the other! Our life is like a sordid dream. Death acknowledges this, for upon its arrival the mind awakens, seeks out its heaven, and sneers at terrestrials’ vanities.
75. TO CRISPUS
Crispus, you advise me that I should love, but that I should do so cautiously, lest loving should disgrace . Can any man love cautiously? Love is like fire: nothing is easier to discern, because it immediately reveals itself by its own evidence.
76. TO CALVUS
Though you call on all the gods as your witnesses, Calvus, you can never prevent me from trusting you less and less. A thing that was at first believed begins to blush if it is repeated, and faith fails when it is called upon too often. No man purges himself in the eyes of a friend with so many entreaties: all those times, he is contriving to have created a store of dislike.
77. TO EDWARD MICHELBORNE
Edward. your sister will go to the shades honored by her brothers’ elegies (if gifts of those aboveground can reach to the dead) and, greatly venerated, bewitch their souls by her beauty and the services performed in her memory. Oh blessed girl, if the Fates had not been churlish, oh excellent, had they not abandoned her prematurely! What enduring thing is it now permitted us to hope for the blessed? What marriages? What flourishing friendships? What mature years? The moon had not yet completed six circuits when treacherous Hymen abandoned this young woman. But to leave this life with regret is not death, but rather a long delay. In her illness she did not die, she departed.
77A. ON THE INCONSTANCY OF HUMAN AFFAIRS
No day is unchanging. One year looms up behind another, and the next hour steals whatever is mortal. Shall we thus die? Are we born for these mockeries? Do men’s hopes and fortunes so swiftly fail?
78. ON THE DEATH OF FRANCIS MANBY
Why, Phoebus, why do you shine your light any more on me in my listlessness? This light better befits the happy. Unhappy woe always loves filth and darkness, no night is dark enough for a man in his misery. Alas, alas, I shall follow wherever my sorrow carries me, seeking you, Manby, through the dark regions of infernal Dis, my face covered with tears. I shall sway the shades and gods of the Underworld with my mourning and soften their dire thresholds and Acheron’s ever-rough waters. For piety can do all things, and sorrow will find a way whereby you can return. Then the sky will shine once more with its nurturing life, and the earth will freely produce its purple flowers. Everything will thrive, and the world will feel its glory to be reborn, the shimmering sea will feel it, and Neptune himself will bemoan his crime. Ah, cease these vain passions, my mindless frenzy, and banish those fabled gates of Dis from your mind. They are neither shut for the living nor thrown open for the dead. You must do whatever an unhappy man lawfully can. Mourn, and let this always remain your task.
79. ON MAN
A man is like a flower, he suddenly blooms and withers. One and the same power takes away a man and a flower? Is he like a flower? He is less. A dead flower is fragrant, a dead man reeks.
80. ON BARNES
You claim that in the French wars ten men were laid low by your weapons, but the fault lies in your number. If you had been willing to say “none,” Barnes, your poetic line would have retained both its meter and its credibility.
81. TO LUPUS
While you, a disgraceful heir, silently count up your father’s years, Lupus, thus you exclaim: “all things have their proper time.” If you are burdened by expenses or your wife has emptied your pocket, you vehemently conclude, “all things have their proper time.” Thus it always is. Now you entrust yourself to Orellus the pharmacist, so that soon you may truly say, “all things have their proper time.”
82. TO CASPIAM
While you whisper something or other in my ear, Caspia, my entire left side has grown numb.
83. TO TURANIUS AND NEPHEIUS
My dear Turanius and my Nepheus, you who like to laugh to yourselves in secret, hey, next to that tumbledown wall observe a man at home, doing in open sight what which men with full guts ought to do in private. And behold his servant, carefully forewarned, stands in front of his lord, his head bared, lest passersby observe the man with unfriendly eyes. Holding his cap in his right hand, gladly he shows respect for his master behind him. But with his left hand he firmly holds his nose, not gladly showing respect for his master behind him. Oh the witty, upstanding, modest servant, who outdoes our mimes with his silent face, and surpasses Tarleton, that glory of our rowdy theater!
84. TO JANUS
Ardent Janus, you are of the opinion that nothing can be done on the Sabbath that is not a sin, deserving expiation by fire. Janus, you gobble down pills, but they do you no good. I think you can consume them on the Lord’s Day.
85. ON SANNIUS
What logic, or rather what madness, impels you, wicked Sannius, to imagine that the female sex is mindless, since my blessed Caspia possesses a hundred minds, dispersed among the heads of her lovers?
86. TO ARNOLD
You should not complain that life displeases you, Arnold, for it has been granted us on condition that it be displeasing.
86A. ON HIMSELF
Nature and experience have both granted me this, that I am a lover of peace, yet enduring when I go to war.
87. TO HIS GUARDIAN ANGEL
Why are you holding me back? I shall go where Love, Laughter and Bacchus urge me, but I shall be sensible. Now let me go, dear angel.
88. TO NASHE
Nashe, I commend to your attention Sextillus the schoolmaster and Tacitus’ dog Potitus. And I pray you in the name of your bloodthirsty words, your wounding sallies, your witticisms (not born without teeth), and that keen lightning-bolt of your intelligence (as fearful as Jove’s thunder to the absurd and the incompetent), and finally by serene Mt. Pierus, by Parnassus, Helicon and the Hippocrene, and whatever place lies open for the Muses, now I pray and ask you that you murder those fellows with ten full Books. For they are slovenly stinkards, and they wonderfully bother the sacred poets, your Ovid and your Vergil. You value them as they should be valued, and you protect them so they may not perish because of nonsense. And so, if you are wise, you will attack these ruffians from all sides and fetch them out from hiding. Once your wrath is aroused you will never cease, and after they have been publicly branded the common throng will barrage them with stones.
89. TO CASPIA
See, Caspia, how I lie here, wretchedly shut out, just as snow falls on the high mountains without a witness, and your absent melts me more violently than the sun is wont to melt gentle snow with its heat.
89A. TO MELLEA
Let Mellea attack me tooth and claw, I endure it. Do you imagine that a man who loves so impatiently will continue to love her with patience?
89B. TO SORROW
If sorrow is a god and dwells in dark dales with the gods of the underworld, as they say, I’ll soon sacrifice three hundred onions to it, so that it will cease gnawing at my poor heart.
90. TO CALVUS
Your threadbare body of writing is like a gut, Calvus: the one stores up bile, whereas the other is a repository of loveless biliousness.
91. ON BYRSEUS
Bryseus made many complaints about his wife to his father-in-law, saying that his bride was in the habit of falling in love with strangers. The father-in-law gave him a short answer: “Once her mother was the same way towards me, and I believe every woman will be thus. This is a common evil for the young, which, I hope, a maturer age and holy hoariness will cure.” “This is not true about myself or my father-in-law,” you exclaim, Bryseus, But it could be true, but this fiction contains good sense.
92. TO CASPIA
When in the world will you grant me that promised night, Caspia, having grown kindly to my greedy self? I shall be so blessed that that single night will suffice me, even if I die. If I survive, a thousand thousand will not be enough.
93. ON BRETON
You were shrewd to have a dead Eros in your poem, Breton. For he would never live in your verses.
94. TO CORVINUS
You unwisely accuse Sextus of treachery, Corvinus, and claim that he failed to bear in mind the promise which he made to his equal, or even to a man more powerful, and indeed that he would fearlessly deceive his own parents, if the need arose. Come then, do you want to put his damaged credit to the test? Invite him to dinner at your home tonight, or tomorrow, or on the day after, or followingday, or, if you prefer, at the end of the month. If that dinner should be not available, he will rush about through all the taverns everywhere seeking it, although, as far as I’m concerned, you are free to swear boldly that you have never heard of or seen it with your own eyes down to this very day. And finally, unless he answers your invitation by presenting himself as a heedful, diligent guest, you may cook this meal at my expense. Is this not evidence of my truthfulness?
94A. ON A DECEITFUL FATHER-IN-LAW
I keep being asked whose naked corpse lies near the Bridge, Thurbarne. He was the son of Hepsis, but the son-in-law of Eudivalus.
94B. ON TRICIUS
Tricius has had three stepmothers and can hope for a fourth, and Tricius says that he is not unhappy.
94C. ON GELLA
Gella receives and gives back pure kisses, pure venery, and pure sallies of wit. That’s true, I don’t deny it. Gella’s a Puritan.
94D. TO JOHN DAVIS
Since you praise my little volumes and read them aloud, Davis (something nobody does with a happier look on his face), send me yours. I’ve already been asking for them — this is a thing by which true thanks can be paid.
95. TO HYSPALUS
Though the bawd promises you a clean whore, Hyspalus, who fetches clean water from a sewer?
96. TO LICINIUS
Just because something is legal does not necessarily mean it should be deemed good, Licinius, but it is reasonable always to consider something good to be legal. For we all agree that interest is legal, but nobody but a bad man would call it a good thing.
97. ON A MISER
When you do too much to preserve everything, Sir Miser, you lose it all, and those things which you so often claim to be yours, Paulus, are not.
98. ON LUPERCUS
Old man Lupercus was bedding Lycius’ wife, and was intent upon the girl. Its absent master’s hound sprang forth, meaning to protect its mistress, and with its biting wrenched off the wanton adulterer’s errant parts. The fornicator stood weeping but without an outcry, dodging those who could testify to his wickedness but longing for his wicked testicles. Oh the silly business! Or should I call it a wretched one? A dog is more faithful than the woman, than a wife.
Since you can frighten everybody with that Stygian face of yours, Erricus, in the name of Pluto tell me what business have you with a mirror?
99A. ON HERMUS AND HERMIA
The Adriatic has no waves, the Libyan shore no sands. Nor has Hermia any lovers, or Hermus any whores.
99B. TO THUSIMELLA
If you are wise, Thusimella, you will guard against railing at my naughtiness, your indignation will reveal much that should be kept silent. That notorious god will confess that he discovered his preferred weapons in your bedroom.
100. TO TUCCA
You have no money, Tucca, although you own a large wallet. And a mind such as no wallet can contain.
101. TO PONTILIANUS
You are amazed, Pontilianus, that Eutrapilus, a wealthy young man, has committed suicide. Neither rejected love nor disgrace, nor a heavy loss, nor mindless frenzy has impelled him to do this dark deed, nor excruciating pain or loathing of some foul deed. The reason eludes everybody else, but the truth is clear to me. I call this a depression, out of which nothing could arouse him. This was supreme tedium vitae.
102. ON AN UNKNOWN GIRL
If a man stabs his enemy while standing near a royal throne, his hand is cut off by decree of the vengeful law. So shall this girl who strikes my amiable heart get off scot free, standing still where she is and piercing me with her eyes? But spare her and set aside your rigid sternness, sacred law. Let Love sit as judge, that Love who has not offended heaven’s eyes. Neither mine nor a thousand other deaths would be worth it.
103. TO CHLOE
Chloe, at daybreak you sent me your ancient serving-woman, blear-eyed, halting, and in the grip of a fever, to ask me for money. I did not like this morning’s omen.
103A. ON PRETTUS
You only have one hand, Prettus, and only one foot, but one foot and one hand are sufficient for drinking. And indeed much drinking will damage bleary eyes — as if you cannot drink without eyes! But those who drink eat sparingly, and you can’t be said to have stuffed yourself even on your wedding day.
When sweet Bassiana married you, nobody failed to exclaim that such a pretty girl was being given to a boorish fellow, you were so grim and gloomy. When the crowd lounging about Tyburn saw you hanged at after having been convicted of wicked murder, having heard your whining gallows-speech, they piously lamented your sad end and went home in throngs. On the way, they described to those they met this example of a young, sturdy fellow, possessed of a most worthy face and fair frame. Thus the common people excessively devotes itself to wretches and slanders the well-favored with evil imprecations. But you receive friendly enough handling, if you have a hard mouth, a horrible face, crossed eyes, or a gaping nose. You can become handsome whenever you choose, if you are willing to hang from some oak tree or window, providing a hideous spectacle for passers-by. Everybody will say many good things about you, even those in the habit of speaking worse than true things about all those who enjoy the transitory good things of this life.
105. ON PAULINUS
Paulinus, I do not envy you your lands, nor your splendid home, nor your gold or your steel-shod horses, but rather that in your bed you keep such a chaste, pretty wife, so elegant, being like honey for you, suitable to your habits and created in accordance with your wishes in all ways. This should create envy, if affection did not forbid.
106. ON HIMSELF
We men who singlemindedly wish to please a girl, how much that we say and do is silly! And as soon as our mind returns to its proper self, it laughs at this all, observing and being embarrassed for itself. In this way, yesterday I — But why should I foolishly advertise my crimes? I shall not do so, silences are safe.
107. ON A MATRON
A matron sliced off the lips of a servant of Venus, so she might kiss her husband no more. What did she accomplish? Wishing to shut the door of sinning, she foolishly made it wider.
107A. ON MARSIUS
Marsius, you who have long endured things unworthy of your breeding, what man, even a flute-player, has ever been treated so wretchedly?
108. TO COSMUS
Aper sees wakefully after a thousand slumbering years. But, Cosmus, a blind man can see such things.
109. ON MELLEA AND CASPIA
I am incensed that Mellea loves many men, and Caspia none. Neither my love nor my hate lacks its rival.
110. TO SABELLUS
As long as that pinkeye of yours rages, Sabellus, a venom of Colchis and whatever Cerberus spews forth from his mouth invisibly threatens all men. It gathers all its virus from as far away as India, from dank swamps and stagnant ponds, putting a higher value on a serpent than you do on an ox. It loathes Ireland, for there a harmful beast capable of producing a dire result with its toxins is never feared, it’s as dangerous as a woodpecker. It is wont to invoke Hell against that god who once put an end to Lerna’s poisonous creature. I’m smiling at this infection, Sabellus, but you must steer clear of this confounded thing: it makes it easier for you to harm a friend than a foe.
111. ON MILVUS
When Milvus perceived he was dissolving into putrescent saliva, he preserved his spit in a little golden jug, upon which he placed an inscription, HERE LIE NEITHER MILVUS’ BONES NOR HIS ASHES, BUT RATHER MILVUS. MILVUS’ SALIVA IS BURIED HERE.
112. ON CALPHA
It always strikes me as absurd, Calpha, that you boast that you are sought without a dowry by many suitors. For who would seek for that which does not exist, or pursue without any hope your father, who is drained dry, or your grandfather, who is as dry as dust?
113. TO CASPIA
In you, Caspia, wildness is praised: your beauty can turn anything that’s black to white.
113A. TO JOHN DOWLAND
Oh you who soothed the gods of heaven with your tuneful lute, and the shades, those inhabitants of the dark Styx, what a sweet thrumming! Just as Lygia, rising out of the flood, dries her dew-drenched locks, how you sweet thrumming strikes my weary ears as a gentle sleep lightly steals over my eyes! Just as a rose, lopped by a sickle, lowers its ruddy head, shedding petals all over the ground, and collapses, hey, thus my muscles grow slack with slumber and my limbs strike the ground with their weight. Dowland, you steal the mind away from my poor self, and your plucked strngs unstring my heart. Which of the gods guides your dancing fingers? He deserves to take first place among the gods of heaven. You alone give credibility to ancient things, nor do I wonder that Orpheus, seated above Rhodope, swayed the stones and beasts of the fields. But, oh blessed man, stay your divine hands. Stop, stop now your divine hands! My soul is melting, beware lest you suck it out of me.
114. ON A TROUBLESOME FRIEND
I do not like a man with too great a propensity for anger, or one who takes trifling grudges seriously. I do not like a man who hatefully spews forth much in hatred, relying on the name of an ancient friendship.
114A. ON BERINUS
While Berinus was admiring himself in Pegasus’ fountain he perished, wretchedly entranced by self-love.
115. ON HANNO
Hanno calls his verses his wealth. Flea-bitten Irus could possess such wealth.
116. TO CAMBRICUS
Cambricus, do you complain that your daughter does not disdain some of her many lovers, as long as she has not been boorish about it? Either you should not have fathered such a pretty girl, or you should permit her to enjoy this gift with which she was born. Chaste faces are the ones which allow their owners to be virtuous. She is more attractive than is suitable for upright girls.
116A. ON COTTUS
Do you want to know what Cottus is doing, Lyte? He’s pondering whether to entrust his prick to Hermus or Hersilius.
117. TO LEA
Since the public good outweighs personal good, Lea, it is quite unclear whether a chaste woman is a good thing. For she is known to no man, or at most remains known only to one, and it’s as if she’ll be unknown to everyone else. If she betrays you, she becomes a bad woman, and so that good woman is either the least of good things, Lea, or is completely a bad one.
118. ON MISTRESSES
Once upon a time if a woman had been unfaithful, she’d be branded and become an outcast. If for a single night she had the time for a new lover, she became the subject of elegies filled with fury. Now, for the sake of profit, fleeting fidelity must bite its tongue. For the men of today, a girl is steadfast enough if she’s clean.
119. ON VENEREAL DISEASE
This old age of the world has produced a sick Venus, and a disease you can contract with this novel form of perdition, one which nowadays would have made Helen suspect and scared off Lais’ lovers.
Crassus speaks very well of his fellows, and he bestows on them nonexistent estates, lands and fields. He gives them his genius, his beauty, his arts, his everything, and Tucca eagerly adores such fellowship.
121. TO EDWARD MICHELBORNE
As I see it, Edward, you do prudently and wisely in keeping your excellent self far removed from this evil city, visiting it scarcely thrice or four times in a year. Then, as soon as you catch sight of St. Paul’s steeple, you sagaciously beat a retreat to your familiar haunts, shunning its pestilential leisure, its clinging attractions and whimsies. Meanwhile for this reason a thousand monstrosities of foolishness beset us from every side: assemblies, jokes, drinking-bouts, wars, peaces, gaming, losses, theaters, girl friends, and expenses. Likewise when at home we are driven to distraction by the thundering noise of blacksmiths and carters, and Hellish shrieks. Or again, crop-haired lawyers bother us in the street as we randomly bump into them, clutching their accursed books in their bandaged hands. None of these things hinder you in your wisdom from elegantly celebrating the Muses in delightful silence. Oh you very, very blessed one of my friends!
122. ON GALLA
Galla, I don’t know why your sides are always gently wheezing, unless it’s because Tressilianus the singer is in love with you.
123. ON FUSCINUS
I couldn’t handle your little boys, Fuscinus, not even if they wereto shit myrrh, incense and roses. Whatever friendly nature has denied us is shameful: take away her face and even Venus herself is disgusting.
124. TO CASPIA
You were late in letting me in, Caspia, but quick to take offense and expel me. A woman’s love is fickle, but her anger is steadfast.
124A. TO PRETTUS
Prettus, I am not saying this since I imagine you need a servant’s position, whether it is kings or scepter-bearing monarchs who are seeking you out. I only give you this warning, that you cannot serve that wise neighbor of yours and mine, Largus, even if he begs you. For he could not stand your putrid hand and foot, he could not stand your gargantuan appetite.
125. TO CANDIDUS
Candidus, even if now you have upright morals, and are more just than Socrates, lacking even the slightest flaw, you have no idea what you will be when you become a novice at the dice, no matter in what way they may bring you profit. Even if you emerge the victor and the dice do you no harm, they wil; still ruin your character.
126. ON GALLA
Ardent Galla demands a Priapus for herself, whereas frigid Thespilis wants a chaste Hippolytus. Hence I hope that you get that god of Lampsacus, Thespilis, but that Galla gets a man more pure than Hippolytus.
127. ON BERINUS
Having changed your name, Berinus, you default on your credit, since you imagine that under a changed name everything is permissible. Now ask if you want, Berinus, why I extend you no credit. I don’t want to have to change my own name.
Boldly enough you assert that nothing created by the Lord is not good, Sibyl. Therefore He also created Eve as a good woman. And yet, due to Adam’s negligence, He could have perceived that by no means had she been created good.
128A. TO HALL
Do you hesitate to say whether men or birds fare better, Hall? It’s obvious: Caspia hates me but loves her parrot.
128B. TO ROBERT WO.
That Marsius, broken by shame over his fresh disgrace (as you think, Robert), how many armed men has he recruited? How many high-born friends? How many mercenaries, and how many dependants? Just take a guess, regarding such a great number there’ll be no harm in being a trifle wrong. How many has he collected, I ask you? Now will you believe me if I tell you, Robert? None at all.
128C. TO MELLEA
You swear Mellea, that all the men England possesses yield to me when it comes to the tasks of Venus. How did you become familiar, Mellea with all the men England possess who are adept at the tasks of lustful Venus?
128D. ON THE SMITH’S WIFE
Venus, that goddess of Lemnos, scarcely put with a single cripple, but this Venus tolerates two Vulcans. Her husband is a smith and a pimp, and likewise her lover is a crafts,am The woodworker makes dolls, the coppersmith makes bullets. Both of these are all too well known to the girl. So that I might be more pleasing to her, how I would wish myself to be a smith!
129. ON GELLA
You proclaim you’ve never been touched to the quick. Bah, how much of your flesh must be dead!
130. TO EURUS
Usage with its multitude of changes alters both the names of things and the things themselves. If you wish an idea of how elegantly this has been said, Eurus, take a look at ladies’ heads. For that part alone produces plenty of novelty, not to speak of their middle or lower parts.
131. TO PAULINUS
Why is it, Paulinus, that you rail at my love-intrigues? It’s as if it were enough to perish, if you don’t add this affliction too. But if this is the reason that inspires you, I could myself spend a number of days delivering a polished, fair and sober speech graphically depicting the thousand inconveniences of headstrong life, and then another thousand, which you have never encountered spoken, written or drawn, nor ever seen in a dream. Nevertheless you are a continual annoyance, chastising my poor self with your lengthy orations. You weary me, I know. Allow me to go to perdition of my own free will. I am willing to perish, as long as I perish thanks to my sweet amours.
132. ON GENTLEMEN WITH HORNS
Why is that mocking talk says that horns are mounted on the undeserving forehead of a husband because of his wife’s fault? Is it because he is driven to a frenzy which makes him an ill-disposed object of fear, resembling armed beasts? Or is it because that’s how we imagine the appearance of satyrs and harmful hobgoblins, as well as the horned Devil himself? Or because in the popular view such a misfortune makes him guilty, and such crimes have no true name?
133. TO HERMUS
If you can satisfy everybody in all respects, Hermus, why can’t you satisfy your wife?
134. TO AUFILENA
See how this place is free of witnesses, Aufelina, for the benefit of my love and of yours. How these cheeks are suddenly shining red, even if with an unwilling blush! How soft a hand, how pleasing a neck! Can such pretty feet remain hidden? And their nearby knees, since your dress begrudges them? Why fend me off so stubbornly? For it is not ladylike to be frantic, this fury will eventually agree to relent. You are still fleeing me? Farewell, recalcitrant girl, ugly, with dirty, fleeing feet. Did I ever like such a bestial face? Such a stiff neck and grasping hands? Wouldn’t it have been better for me to lack my eyes than to see all these these things wrongly?
134A. TO ANNA
You give your soul to me and to Leius, Anna, not a good division. Just give me your body, and leave your soul to him.
135. TO BATTUS
Once, Battus, the only thing you had to fear was an adulterer, but now prodigious venery is a torment to you. Every woman in the throes of lust is a Pasiphae. If you tolerate a rival, you’ll be safe once more.
136. TO MELLEA
Why this weeping, my life, why this wailing? I’m not plotting some scheme, as do those profane fellows who abandon their dear friends. Nor, like a pirate, shall I return over the harsh sea, fetching back trifles from Spain or the Indies. But, being given no share of Venus and her Loves, I am now returning to the shadows of the greenwoods and the sweet, peaceful air of the countryside, to refresh myself for your sake, and bring back as my profit a thousand thousand kisses.
137. TO THELESINA
Some scratches have defaced the faces of Helen and Paris on a painting, as if done with a fingernail. You lament this, Thelesina, but this well suits them, since there are wont to be quarrels in any love-affair. Why should I hold this against you alone, that you have savagely wounded your lover’s face?
138. ON FABRUS
Hey boy, take these hundred sesterces to Fabrus. Why are you standing there? Why are you blanching? Why are you crying, you donkey? Run, I tell you. Although he turns his back on empty-handed lads, he can be politer to you for the sake of the money.
139. ON AFRA
Although your nose has grown so old, Afra, that an ancient Spartan ought to arise from it, and when the antique dealer Hammon could purchase your teeth and no drugs can help that cough of yours, you want to marry a boy, although you are due to die on the first of December. Thus, Afra, you can’t make a man out of your heir.
139A. ON HIMSELF
Once I was a fool and was afraid lest my penis might grow as hard as a rock and prove useless for myself in my manhood, since in my boyhood it had already raised it head, being aroused by my muscular movements. Then I dared not lay a hand on it by way of encouragement, or touch or stroke it. For I was afraid that when my stalk had grown to manhood it might not be accommodated by a pathic’s anus. Now you understand, ladies and gentlemen (but especially you naughty ladies) how foolishly, naively and without savoir faire I grieved over this, my supreme source of pleasure. For even if it rose up taller than alder tree should I have any greater cause for alarm, nor would it provide any greater difficulties for a dork-crazed girl.
139B. ON NORVANUS
Norvanus is always calling himself stupid, and he is. Since he’s telling the truth about this, how can he be a liar?
140. TO COSMUS
What does this memento mori contribute to your life. Cosmus? Is it so you may realize you are a wretch, no more than dust? Since it is quite certain enough that you will die, forget death. Deal with life’s uncertainties. Live, thrive.
141. TO ATE
When the three queenly goddesses met concerning possession of the apple, Ate lurked in the underbrush and sneered at the wretched things. What would have happened here, my goddess, if it had been permissible to substitute a stiff prick for an apple?
142. ON APER
Aper convinced Crispus, who was suffering from a fever, that this plague of drunkenness could be removed, but at a time when Bacchus was raging. They drank. Crispus began to regain his health, and Aper came down with a fever.
143. ON FUSCUS
Fuscus, you believe that all the girls you care to name are courting and pursuing you, and in your absurdity you can’t stop speaking of this. In just the same way, a prattling child being borne on a boat says that all the ships are sailing towards himself, and believes it.
144. TO LUCILLUS AND MANBY
Lucillus, dearer to me than my soul and anything that can be dearer than that to me, and you Manby, the heart and soul of your like-minded friend,
Have you heard (and did it make you happy?) that Campion has driven out his heart leisure, Cupid, and also his amours?
For that day seems to have dawned happily and blessedly for me, which quickly routed such great shadows with its light.
Go, abject Love, flee into exile! It is scarcely right for such a wild boy to govern men’s tender concerns. Return to those crags where you were born.
144A. TO HIS BOOK
Cease, that’s enough now, my wanton book, a book which can scarcely walk safely on a Roman foot. But you, oh your foreign Latin Muses, forgive it and let be a trifling part of your choir.
145. ON MAMURRA
What sane man would deny that Mamurra’s satiric verses are lousy (if anybody reads them)? They are biting, they dread fingernails, and they have six feet.
146. ON VINCENTIUS
Now Vincentius is bound by debt, having previously been boundless in his expenditures.
147. TO AEMYLIUS
Litus the quack always prescribes a suppository for his patients. How long will he keep this up? As long as an ailing man is foolishly willing to hand over his money.
148. ON THE STINGY
A genuine poet has no business praising stingy men, for a long-standing antipathy makes them objects of fear.
149. TO MARCELLUS
Scilla is virtuous, Marcellus, and Scylla is handsome. If both of these things are true, she is peerless.
150. TO MATHO
You complain when I rail at a true fault under a false name, and do not also indicate you by your titles. A poem that never indulges in fiction is no epigram, Matho, and there’s scarcely a man who is pleased by simple truth.
151. TO COSMUS
A good man becomes better when praised, Cosmus, and praise is a good thing. But, even if their estate is growing and they are enjoying honor, bad men should not expect praise: it has no time for the bad.
152. ON OLUS
Our Father gave you plenty of tongue, Olus, but He could have better placed it in any part other than the head. For it’s as sensible as a stone, and your voice lacks a palate, jaws, lungs, and also intelligence. If I could have given your tongue its location, Olus, it would have been situated in that place where you fart.
153. ON THE SAME
To indicate that his father had occupied a high seat in Parliament, Olus says this, that occasionally he farted.
154. ON HIPPO
While he presses his lawsuit, Hippo the moneylender is reduced to abject poverty, and, out of all of them, no expense troubles him more than the trifling penny he gave to a needy wretch on a single occasion, the only thing which he wants back now that he is insolvent. He has gladly and willingly handed everything over to the lawyers, and will continue to do so if he has his way. But he gave that single penny grudgingly and in defiance of his nature.
155. TO EURUS
Eurus, neither his rank, nor his property, station or age makes a man good. Although he is improved by these things, he himself is born good.
156. ON MYCILLUS
A jester is receiving a whipping because he called Mycillus, the son of Mycillus the counselor, stupid, although he deserved it. Now let him say this of the father, and he won’t be in any danger.
157. TO LALAGE
Would that my appearance, Lalage, could occupy a thousand bodies. This would be my one hope to belong to myself.
158. TO HAEMUS
You speak, Haemus, of building from the rooftops of which on certain days cheap stones fall down. You say this is the devil’s work, but I hardly believe that: I shall believe it, if precious ones do.
159. TO ARGENTINUS
Argentinus, your fertile wife is descended from chickens. For she often gives birth with no father.
160. TO TELESPHORUS
You like neither a bountiful meal nor a meager one, Telesphorus. The one is too large for your greedy gut, the other too small. You complain that however much food is left on another man’s plate has gone to waste for your stuffed self.
161. TO CASSILIANA
Why does everybody call Nerine virtuous and chaste? Because, Cassiliana, she has not yet made your acquaintance.
162. TO HERMUS
Whenever I catch sight of your side and praise your sword, you become puffed-up, saying that this belonged to your father. If I admire your swift-footed horse, or your cattle, or your mansion, you say that these too were your father’s. If I praise your face, it was paternal: you possess your father’s servant, his whore, and all that was his. But since there is no truthfulness in your tongue, Hermus, this was truly your mother’s, if you are able to admit it.
163. ON MARCELLINA
As a little girl Marcellina liked to gobble ash and mud with an eager mouth. Now she loves adulterers, Calvus, muddier than mud itself. What am I to make of this? Does not a magpie also suffer from this disposition?
164. TO EURUS
Pyrrhus is always dreaming of sermons, Eurus, and is always reciting them open-mouthed. He is an impostor, not a priest.
165. TO PONTILIANUS
In birth the head comes to light first, and hence rules as the senior member, the sphere of the soul nearest to heaven. It possesses the beauty of the face, speech, and is the image of the mind. Pontilianus, the head is nearly the whole man.
166. TO COSMUS
Evils govern under a show of good, Cosmus. Just as the use of honesty grows obsolete, so all honor perishes.
167. TO PAPILUS
He who hopes to obtain justice while living on a slender estate is a fool, Papilus. This is only granted the great and the wealthy.
168. TO EURUS
A judge drinks watered wine so that he might also pronounce the law from a watered-down mouth. He dislikes it undiluted, Eurus. But nowadays a justice pronounces the law and neglects equity Thus the judge who thus pronounces the law will be unjust.
169. TO CALVUS
It is absurd to search for peace of in a foreign dwelling and land. It is nowhere, Calvus, if it is not at home.
170. ON MELISSA
Old Lady Melissa rejoiced in giving birth to a child after having been barren for thirty-six years. You kings and princes, God’s special concern, beware for yourself. This child-bearing statue was a portent.
171. TO DAUNUS
Since you’re a knight on horseback, Daunus, why are you writing a poem? Though you wish to be a poet, you’re too pedestrian.
172. TO COSMUS
Although you pour forth your verse in the middle of the night, Cosmus, a friendly Apollo will shine on your page. A man writing meter must have either constant wit or steady sunshine, nobody has any flavor if he is frigid or lacks the salt of wit.
174. TO LABIENUS
While you are excessively enthusiastic to show your love for your many guests and drag out your meal, you exhaust us, nor is a dinner pleasing to the palate, Labienus, in which there are more spice than food.
175. ON POLLIO
Pollio praises those who live in high style, although he lives meanly. Possibly he imagines praises is a bad thing.
176. TO SYBIL
Everybody wants to fare well in every respect. And yet, Sybil, “farewell” is a sad word.
177. TO PAPILUS
You have been calling Bellona beautiful, I understand, Hostile camps might offer sweeter hospitality. Let whoever fights discover this,. As for me, I prefer peacetime, so that your Penthesilea might belong to you alone.
178. TO GALLA
Whenever your tears well up, Galla, if your humor wants to take another route, you can pee.
179. TO LABIENUS
You ask how many epigrams go to make up a complete Book. Although this is uncertain, you may count them thus: more or less the same number as are men born at London in one week, Labienus, comprise aBook. In both cases, a lesser number of noble ones is included, but there will be a throng of obscure plebeians.
180. ON MARCELLINA
Marcellina dreads ghosts and goblins, but she has no fear of the dark if she’s in the company of a man.
181. TO LINUS
In the reign of Henry VII, Linus, not even a fifth one made the number of pharmacies to swell, nor a fifth wine-shop, but nowadays both tribes have grown great. But the wine-shop takes place, and seems like the father of the other as it begets ailments and gradually infects our bodies with its pleasant poisons. To what end will this change lead us? What should I say, other than that three hundred demons create this crop of those superfluous men whom we all tolerate as licensed tradesmen?
182. ON GALLA
Galla is wont to cheer up with Bacchus while feigning melancholy, and the result is genuine melancholia.
183. ON TOBACCO
Nerva is not without wit in calling tobacco whorish, for whores sell it and prostitute themselves.
184. TO MAURISCUS
Brunus lacks a left hand and yet is not a cripple. Rather he is, as they say, ambidextrous, so that you must be on your guard.
185. TO PHILLITIS
Phillitis, why is your little girl learning to dance before she can stand upright on the ground? Are you not afraid that she is too young and will take a fall? Indeed, this is what makes tumbledown puppets turn their limbs about.
186. TO LALAGE
French is a women’s language, being lofty, gliding, sweet on the lips, and an ornament to its speaker. England is a land for women, simple, sweet, loving, and always granting honor to the fair sex with its fine places.
187. TO CYPARISSUS
Don’t grow too fond of beef, Cyparissus. Who knows whether it can make you grow horns?
188. TO HERMUS
If a man who serves a chaste mistress is unhappy, Hermes, what about the man who fears a whore? He’s ruined and worthless.
189. TO CHLOE
Lausus adores pretty girls. What’s that to you, Chloe? So Lausus does not adore all pretty girls.
190. TO PASIPHYLE
He who denies you are beautiful, Pasiphyle, has no eyes. But he who holds you in no esteem does have a heart.
191. ON HERMIA
When Hermia laughs she has ha-ha-halitosis. She’d be more tolerable if she fa-fa-farted.
192. ON MYCILLUM
At night Mycillus sings at the window of his pretty mistress, being wakeful and persistent. He sings elegantly and the windows are open for his voice. Only the deaf door remains shut.
193. TO CALVUS
When he is here Naevola makes a profit on his returns, just as he hopes. How quickly, Calvus, does he return?
194. TO HAEMUS
You not unreasonably keep calling London an Augean stables, Haemus, and indeed it is full of much uncleanness, so that it would require the effort of a Hercules to clean it out. For it stinks in general, Haemus, although oats have a bad smell there, whereas groats do not.
195. ON TUCCA
It doesn’t matter if you don’t read any epigrams, Tucca. They are written about you, not for you. Hush, Tucca.
196. TO NISA
You belittle your sister because you dance better, Nisa. How better each of you would be if you didn’t dance!
197. TO PUBLIUS
You only tell me things that should be kept secret, Publius, but things about which, if I should keep them secret, everybody else would speak. Either tell me some news which it is permissible to repeat openly, or keep quiet.
198. TO COSMUS
What’s your excuse for this misdeed, Cosmus? Love urged you. As if Love does not command the worst of things! That god whom you claim as your patron, you fool, makes sons harm their fathers with steel. Rather you should say that you acted out of hatred, as long as you get rid of Love. Say something else, my friend. Say whatever comes into your head.
199. ON HARPAX
As a townsman, Harpax used to be rich in groats. Now, being a man of the countryside, he’s wealthy with his oats: his fortune may be less, but he’s greater.
200. TO OLUS
You’re itching to marry the moneylender’s daughter, Olus. Why so? Isn’t she being given to you in a corrupted condition? “It’s just as you say,” says you, “and she’s pregnant.” Now I praise you, Olus, for your paying such interest to this moneylender.
201. TO DAUNUS
No need to fea,r Daunus, I’ve sent you back your wife still chaste. If you don’t believe me, ask her.
202. ON LAGUS
Though he scarcely knows how to connect three words grammatically, Lagus insists on becoming a poet, over the objection of the gods. The same fault attaches to drunkards: they start to dance as soon as they fear they might stumble.
203. ON VERGUSIUS
Vergusius likes nothing imported, he condemns foreign stuff. He dislikes French wine, although it comes from nearby. When he has indigestion he does not touch pepper, he kicks apricots far away, and disapproves of holy incense. He sneers at the silkworm’s efforts, praising our national wool, and indeed has no taste for goods from abroad. But yet, already a married man, he yearns for Rufinus’ wife, thinking her to be familiar and un-exotic.
204. ON HIPPONAX
Hipponax scrubs his face and hands with towels, but scarcely bathes once a year. While, fearing wrinkles, he preserves his skin for the ladies, he squanders his paternal property. He is not a clean man. So what is he? One who’s been given a bath.
205. TO CALLIODORUS
Callidorus, you should understand that there’s no need to be worried about what fatal portent this comet brings. You should expect a slaughter, Callidorus, but since Christmas is nigh it will be one of beeves, not men.
206. TO GLAUCUS
The cook who sells good juice is better than the man who pollutes all justice with dodges not good, though he be wordy and more savage than the howling southerlies.
207. ON HANNO
Hanno creates many verses that are transparent, light and smooth, but of a nature as brittle as glass.
208. ON BOOKSELLERS
A bookseller praises a book for having undergone many impressions. A pimp does no less concerning his whore.
209. TO GAURUS
Pollio is so short and so stout, Gaurus, that you may choose to call him the half of a bisected giant.
210. TO LIGO
You ask why I don’t greet you as you ride by on your horse? Lest I seem to have greeted your horse, Ligo.
211. TO ALBIUS
When you do anything, be it well or badly, Albius, when you say anything either false or true, playfully or seriously, you always blush. Hence you make yourself seem silly and inconsequential. Do you want to cure yourself of the vice of bashfulness? You do? Frequent a brothel.
212. TO OLYNTHUS
Lord Mayor Olynthus sleeps while sitting in his privy, and in bed he does what he does on his stool.
213. ON PANDARUS
Pandarus’ balls are swollen with lust: let his slut tremble.
214. ON HANNO
Hanno calls his slut’s well-worn lips sugary rather than honeyed. The poor man does not know that poison is wont to be extracted from sweet sugar.
215. TO LIGO
Cecilianus needs to be purged, but not with medical help. Nevertheless, he requires purgation. Am I speaking of something strange, Ligo? He needs to be purged of the suspicion of impregnating a girl. Let me not detain you: Cecilianus is here.
216. ON MUNDUS
Nobody sells more books than Mundus, new ones written in a manner not unfit for the common man. The booksellers snap his up, even those less less popular to readers, but only on this condition, that Mundus not include their names on his title pages.
217. TO LAUSUS
I do not forbid my poems to contain anything juvenile, Lausus, just anything excessively vulgar and puerile.
218. TO BASSUS
Bassus, when Cinna sees his bugger of a servant walking behind you, he wants you to walk in front of your wife.
219. TO LAMIANA
In vain you medicate your skin, Lamiana, trying by every means to cleanse it. It remains undamaged per se. Take away your luxuriousness, your harmful bouts of nocturnal gluttony. Take care that the blood flowing through your veins is fair and wholesome, and thus, Lamiana, you’ll heal your skin.
220. ON LIGO
We rarely see Ligo when he’s not dressed in black. Is this because he’s responsible for so many deaths?
221. ON MARSUS AND MARTHA
Just as Marsus is longing for a wife, so is Martha for a husband. What prevents them both from gaining their wish?
222. TO PONTILIANUS
Who’s this Bromus who wants to become witty? I’ll tell you plainly, Pontillianus: he’s plainly an impostor.
223. TO SYRA
The entire female sex fancies it is adept at one thing, which is saying no. It is to be hoped it would strive to be more adept at one other thing, which is to keep its mouth shut.
224. TO HERMUS
Hermus dedicates himself to everybody as an observance of dutifulness. But people never have the custom of offering up such things.
225. ON CAMBRUS
Cambrus, since learned and elegant Catullus is not to your taste, I have no hope of pleasing you. Likewise, when you canvass for the support of poets like Suffenus, you have no hope of pleasing me.
226. ON THE SAME
When you sell a couplet, Cambrus, you want to count a single line twice. Thus a shepherd should wish to count his sheep.
227. TO THE GENTLEMEN OF GRAY’S INN
Gentleman of Gray’s (or, if you prefer your ancient name, gentlemen of Purpoole), you glory of the British, may Astraea and Pallas thus be willing to bless your company that you, my comrades separated from me, might choose to favor my trifles, if they are not harsh or unwitty, but rather such as you are wont to produce, to well-earned applause, when it pleases you to be at sport.
228. TO HIS BOOK
Enough words: more are burdensome to a slim volume, much talk can militate against even urbane readers. A rhetorical figure composed of many short parts can be unsuitable, if it is long enough. Let your dimensions match your contents.