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Elegy XIV: He desires his mistress, if she does cuckold him, not to let him know it.

I do not ask you would to me prove true,
Since you're a woman, and a fair one too.
Act what you please, yet study to disguise
The wanton scenes from my deluded eyes.
A stiff denial would attenuate
That crime which your confession would make great.
And 'twere unwise to trust the tell-tale light,
With the dark secrets of the silent night.
Tho' bought to be enjoy'd, a common whore
Ere she begins will shut the chamber door:
And will you turn debauch'd, then vainly own
How lewd you are, to this malicious town?
At least seem virtuous, and tho' false you be,
Say you are honest, and I'll credit thee.
Conceal your actions, and while I am by,
Let modest words your looser thoughts belie;
When to your private chamber you retire,
Unmask your lust, and vent each warm desire;
Throw off affected coyness, and remove
The bold intruder between thee and love:
Talk not of honour, lay that toy aside,
In men 'tis folly, and in women pride;
There without blushes you may naked lie,
Clasping his body with your tender thigh;
Shoot your moist dart into his mouth, to show
The sense you have of what he acts below;
Try all the ways, your pliant bodies twine,
In folds more strange than those of Aretine:
With melting looks fierce joys you may excite,
And with thick dying accents urge delight.
But when you're dress'd, then look as innocent
As if you knew not what such matters meant;
Cozen the prying town, and put a cheat
On it and me, I'll favour the deceit.
False as thou art, why must I daily see
Th' intriguing billet-doux he sends to thee ?
The wanton sonnet, or soft elegy ?
Why does your bed all tumbled seem to say,
See what they've done, see where the lovers lay!
Why do your locks and rumpled head-clothes show
'Tis more than usual sleep that made 'em so?
Why are the kisses which he gave, betray'd
By the impression which his teeth had made ?
Yet say you're chaste, and I'll be still deceived;
What much is wish'd for, is with ease believ'd.
But when you own what a lewd wretch thou art,
My blood grows cold and freezes at my heart,
Then do I curse thee, and thy crimes reprove,
But curse in vain, for still I find I love;
"Since she is false," oft to myself I cry,
"Would I were dead,"-yet 'tis with thee I'd die
I will not see your maid, to let me know
Who visits you, where, and with whom you go;
Nor by your lodging send my boy to scout,
And bring me word who passes in and out.
Enjoy the pleasure of the present times,
But let not me be knowing of your crimes.
Do you forswear't, tho' in the act you're caught,
I'll trust the oath, and think my eyes in fault.

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load focus English (Christopher Marlowe)
load focus Latin (R. Ehwald, 1907)
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  • Commentary references to this page (1):
    • E. T. Merrill, Commentary on Catullus, 45
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