Amores II:5

No love is so important (get away from me, Cupid with your quiver of arrows!) that I ought to wish so often that I were dead. Woe is me! I wish I were dead when I think of how many times you’ve cheated on me, you girl born for perpetual faithlessness. 

I haven’t been reading your love letters to learn what you’ve been doing, nor is it because you’ve been secretly receiving gifts that I know you’re false. Oh, would that I could accuse you in a fashion that permitted me to acquit you! But no, miserable me, my case for the prosecution is unshakeable.

Happy is the man who dares to strongly defend what he loves, a man whose girlfriend can say, “I didn’t do it.” You have to be iron and in love with your own misery to really want to read the death penalty when the girl you love lies convicted before you.

Poor me! I was watching you, sober and alert, while you thought I was sleeping when the party starting drinking unmixed wine after dinner. I saw you saying many things with twitches of your eyebrows, and your nods were as good as words. Your eyes weren’t silent either, and the table became a document on which your fingers wrote notes in spilled wine. I recognized the parts of the conversation that were going on under the surface and the words that were given double meanings.

And then the many guests got up from the table; this and that young man went out together. I saw–and the sight loosed the tongue I’d been keeping silent–you bestowing improper kisses, not the sort a sister gives to her strait-laced brother but rather what an immoral girlfriend gives to the man she desires. It isn’t possible that Diana would give such a kisses to Phoebus, but Venus often gave them to Mars.

“What are you doing?” I shout. “Why have you destroyed my happiness? I will defend my rights with my fists! Why is a third party making free of the property which was yours and mine alone?”

I cried these things which grief dictated to my tongue, and a blush of shame touched her guilty cheek. This is the faint glow with which Dawn, the wife of Tithonus, colors the sky, or which a young bride turns when seen by her new husband. Thus roses flame when planted among lilies, or the Moon turns when witchcraft delays the flight of her horses across the sky; or the color which a Lydian woman painted Assyrian ivory so that it wouldn’t turn yellow with age.

One of these was the color she blushed, or some color very like to them–and never was she more beautiful than now.

She looked at the ground; she was fetching when she looked at the ground. She wore a sad expression; sadness became her.

I was going to pull her lovely hair and slap her tender cheeks, but I saw her face and my angry arms fell to my sides. My girl was defended by her own weapons. I who had so recently been furious now begged that she not kiss me less warmly. She laughed and willingly gave me wonderful kisses, the sort that shook me like the forked lightning of angry Jove.

I am tortured with the wish that no other man had felt such kisses, and I wish I didn’t know that the kisses I had taught her were far less sweet so that she must’ve been taking lessons elsewhere. It’s terrible that your kisses were so delightful, that you put your whole tongue into my mouth and received all mine in yours.

But this one thing grieves me, not that you have exchanged kisses with others (though I do grieve because of that) but because you could have learned them only in bed. I do not doubt the heavy price your teacher charged.

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