Been reading Rolfe Humphries’ translation of Ovid’s Ars Amatoria, which is an excellent translation. He sticks to the hexameters, often employing the anapaest & using internal assonance, which makes for a pleasant music. i have broke with that in places, letting the line run to heptameters or longer, making it a sort of Blakean love poem to onanism.
Austerity of furniture | a host mahogany & pine.
A writer | poet | thinker | scientist in tweed you most admire
—one of the sorts you find on university curriculums | in text books |
their name is … … they lived between the years of … & …
Caricatured by shitty doodlers | to make them infant-friendly
belittling summaries by them that merely get the gist.
Picture them studying in lamp flood | papier-mâché of text |
technology of the literate— inhospitable weather at the door
carping moods blustery | in sails of skin: lonely | the book
they read lost to thought: the pale face of someone glued in their skull.
New Criticism misprisions all their weather as the mood of them.
They take Ovid’s Ars Amatoria from the shelf as if unbuttoning a dress
& take a dram of port to fill their cheeks a shade | warm their chest
slice out a sickled chunk of apple—“look at the sky tonight.”
He thumbs the waist band of his trousers | taps his belt buckle.
Finds the lewdest passage & reads aloud | blushes
& stirs | the buckle comes undone as if uncoupled by another’s hands |
his trousers shimmied below his buttocks | the shriveled ball
of skin looks like the animus coiled | cupped in the soil of the palm |
the filthiest passage coming | known by heart | underlined
in best ink—the ball of skin | animates— “the soul of lust”
a ghost filling a sheet for visual stimulus. His bones rattle skin.
His soul becomes the prison of his body. He lays out tissue like
“the time she rolled out that rug from Marrakech” | on his desk |
his arm & palm | tug & friction. He reads one line overranover againanagain |
louder n’ louder— performs with his right | left clamping the desk.
A climax-growly-groan | exhausted pant & expiate bow |
sinner & shamed— narcissist-adulterer: human & lonely.
A strongly worded letter sent him cleans his mess. “That’s better.”