Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2018  Vol. 17 No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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from M. Valerii Martialis epigrammata by D.R. Shackleton Bailey (Teubner, 1990)

You wax your chest, your arms, your legs, and shave
  the little hairs that grow around your cock.
We know you do this for your little lass.
  For whom, exactly, do you shave your ass?  

Quod pectus, quod crura tibi, quod bracchia vellis,
  quod cincta est brevibus mentula tonsa pilis,
hoc praestas, Labiene, tuae—quis nescit?—amicae.
  cui praestas, culum quod, Labiene, pilas?


You never give readings, but want to be seen as a poet.
  Whatever you want—as long as you never give readings.

Nil recitas et vis, Mamerce, poeta videri.
  quidquid vis esto, dummodo nil recites.


You insist there are no gods,
  the sky above is empty.
You prove this by believing it
  and staying so damn wealthy.

Nullos esse deos, inane caelum
affirmat Segius: probatque, quod se
factum, dum negat haec, videt beatum.


Thais’s are black as stone.
  Laecania’s—white as pearls.
Thais’s teeth are all her own.
  Laecania—owns hers.      

Thais habet nigros, niveos Laecania dentes.
  quae ratio est? emptos haec habet, illa suos.


As for the fact that I’m not sending any
  gold or silver, eloquent Stella, I’m doing it
for your own good. He who gives big gifts
  wants big gifts back. So here’s a pot. You’re free.

Quod non argentum, quod non tibi mittimus aurum,
  hoc facimus causa, Stella diserte, tua.
quisquis magna dedit, voluit sibi magna remitti;
  fictilibus nostris exoneratus eris.


You chase, I run away. You run, I chase you.
  I don’t want you to want me—I want you not to.

Insequeris, fugio; fugis, insequor; haec mihi mens est:
  velle tuum nolo, Dindyme, nolle volo.


Your nose and dick are so damn big
  that when your dick grows your nose knows.

Mentula tam magna est, tantus tibi, Papyle, nasus,
  ut possis, quotiens arrigis, olfacere.


Your wife spends time with eunuchs—
  you’re confused by this behavior?
She gets to have the parts she wants
  without the risk of labor.

Cur tantum eunuchos habeat tua Caelia quaeris,
  Pannyche? vult futui Caelia nec parere.


You say my books are hit or miss.
  Well, thank you for the compliment!
Some poets’ books are totally deficient.
  Their output, see, is more consistent.

Iactat inaequalem Matho me fecisse libellum:
  si verum est, laudat carmina nostra Matho.
aequales scribit libros Calvinus et Umber:
  aequalis liber est, Cretice, qui malus est.


You only admire the old great poets.
  If they’re not dead, they get ignored.
Forgive me, but your admiration
  just isn’t worth dying for.

Miraris veteres, Vacerra, solos
nec laudas nisi mortuos poetas.
ignoscas petimus, Vacerra: tanti
non est, ut placeam tibi, perire.


IX.10 (5)
You want to marry Priscus. Very shrewd. I’m not surprised.  
  Priscus doesn’t want to marry you. He’s also wise.

Nubere vis Prisco: non miror, Paula; sapisti.
  ducere te non vult Priscus: et ille sapit.  

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