Home > Poetry > from Amores I, xiii
Ovid
By Ovid
Translated by Tom Sleigh
Published: Mon Apr 15 2002
Art: Paul TheriaultEver New (detail), 2022, acrylic and found paper on scavenged wood
from Amores I, xiii

Adapted from the Latin by Tom Sleigh

 

Bright like molten gold her hair as she lashes
Her chariot on, axle still sparking
With frost—dragging day up over the sea, day
That makes her shrivelled husband sigh:
_                                                                         _Again,
She’s left him all alone, escaped his bed
For the wide dawn . . .

_                                         _ “Look, Aurora, slow down, OK?
Memnon’s sacred starlings need to pay
Respects to their father’s ghost—give them a chance
To spring from his ashes, dark birds whirling
Through still dark air!
_                                        _Plus, you’ll be doing me
A favor; and not just me, but lovers like me
Everywhere:
_                      _ When sleep is deep, the air’s cool,
And birdsong laves the edge of day, how I delight
In lying in her arms, thigh pressed on thigh!
Bad news to lovers deliciously dozing, Aurora,
What’s the rush? Pull back on the reins a bit
With that lovely blood-flushed hand, help sailors
Better observe the stars so they steer sure
And clear across the trackless deep.
_                                                                _When you crack
Your whip, its lash stings travellers, no matter
How tired, back to slogging down the road, while
It snaps in the soldier’s ear, his hand reaching
Out in terror to grip his spear. You’re the first
To spot the farmer plowing, you summon
The steer to grinding work beneath the yoke.

 

Ovid (ca. 43 BCE–17 or 18 CE) was a Roman poet. He is best known for his erotic poems and the mythological epic Metamorphoses.

Tom Sleigh won the 2008 Kingsley Tufts Award for his book of poetry, Space Walk (Houghton Mifflin, 2007). His book of essays, Interview with a Ghost, was published by Graywolf Press in 2006. He has also published After OneWakingThe ChainThe__DreamhouseFar Side of the EarthBula Matari/Smasher of RocksArmy Cats, and a translation of Euripides’ Herakles. He has won the Shelley Prize from the PSA, and grants from the Lila Wallace Fund, American Academy of Arts and Letters, the American Academy in Berlin, the Guggenheim and the NEA. In 2011 he received the inaugural John Updike Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He teaches in the MFA Program at Hunter College and is a contributing editor of AGNI. (2012)

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Ovid (ca. 43 BCE–17 or 18 CE) was a Roman poet. He is best known for his erotic poems and the mythological epic Metamorphoses.

Tom Sleigh’s books include House of Fact, House of Ruin; Station Zed; Army Cats, which won the John Updike Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters; and Space Walk, winner of the Kingsley Tufts Award. His most recent book of essays, The Land between Two Rivers: Writing in an Age of Refugees, recounts his time as a journalist in the Middle East and Africa. He has received the Shelley Prize from the Poetry Society of Ameria, and grants from the Lila Wallace Fund, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the American Academy in Berlin, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. He teaches in the MFA Program at Hunter College and is a contributing editor of AGNI. For more, visit www.tomsleigh.com. (updated 3/2020)

Sleigh’s AGNI poem “After Herodotus” won a Pushcart Prize and was reprinted in the 2006 anthology. “At the Pool” was chosen for The Best American Poetry 2009.

Tom Sleigh and Charles Bardes coauthored “A Viral Exchange, under Lockdown” for the AGNI blog. “An Interview with Tom Sleigh” by Allegra Wong also appears at AGNI Online. Sleigh’s second book, Waking, was reviewed in AGNI 34 by Joseph Lease. His collection The Chain was reviewed in AGNI 43 by Susan Mitchell. His collection The Dreamhouse was reviewed in AGNI 52 by Sven Birkerts.

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