The Art of Love (Book III) by Ovid

Sirens, tho’ monsters of the stormy main,
Can ships, when under sail, with songs detain:
Scarce could Ulysses by his friends be bound,
When first he listen’d to the charming sound,
Singing insinuates, learn all ye maids;
Oft when a face forbids, a voice persuades.
Whether on theatres loud strains we hear,
Or in Ruelles some soft Egyptian air.
Well shall she sing, of whom I make my choice,
And with her lute accompany her voice.
The rocks were stirr’d, the beasts to listen staid
When on his lyre melodious Orpheus play’d,
Even Cerberus and hell that sound obey’d,
And stones officious were thy walls to raise.
0, Thebes, attracted by Amphion’s lays.
The dolphin, dumb itself, thy voice admir’d,
And was, Arion, by thy songs inspir’d.
Of sweet Callimachus the works rehearse,
And real Philetas and Anacreon’s verse,
Terentian plays may much the mind improve;
But softest Sappho best instructs to love.
Propertius, Gallus, and Tibullus read,
And let Varronian verse to these succeed.
Then mighty Maro’s work with care peruse;
Of all the Latians boards the noblest muse,
Even I, ’tis possible, in after-days,
May ‘scape oblivion, and be nam’d with these.

My labour’d lines, some readers may approve,
Since I’ve instructed either sex in love.
Whatever book you read of this soft art,
Read with a lover’s voice and lover’s heart.


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