The Ode of Darius
a Pannonian who had won the day’s Song Contests and had thus
been Crowned with Pines, was heard to deliver this First Ode to Antinous:
Antinous – spared this festival night
From the smother of Hadrian’s embrace –
Thou deign to drink with me; to drown my sight
In a languid, leisured, sumptuous face
Whose locks of luscious twilight tumble down
To leak their dew on lips that smirk at me.
Why such a smile? Amused by this clown
Who spins compositions? Thy fiendish glee
Conspiring a more accomplished reply?
Or be it a source forever obscured
From me (a mere mortal) who, for a sigh,
Must yield to that accustomed and assured
Quiet of gods when among us disguised,
They that toy with us, laugh, and leave apprised?
Aye, friend, methinks Thou art indeed a god,
For how can gods not these days lurk about?
This be the Games! A most abundant fraud
Of mortals mark their attendance, no doubt.
What, then, is Thy more customary name?
Art Hermes – the fleet and sweet-skinned youth?
Apollo – of broad and radiant fame?
Ganymede – in concert with Zeus? In truth,
Such candidates doth drive me yet to yawn:
E’er the poet, I live to be tested.
Therefore shall I a further option spawn,
Sing of that local none yet hath bested,
And call Thee Palaemon of ancient lore,
Whose flesh was delivered upon this shore.
O dear boy-god, Thy wetness bewitches!
It causes a stirring within these loins –
Tenting my toga, straining its stitches,
Tingling as it jingles my satchel’s coins!
I’m keen to release the creature what’s there;
Loosen from its netting that restless thing,
And let it for the swept and salty air
Leap to what revels its freedom shall bring!
Lo, ‘tis a sleek and tubular dancer,
Tapered to a leering, purple snout;
Topped by a blowhole pucker’d to answer
All with the pearls that its pleasure may spout.
Behold the dolphin that from me is plied:
Come, pretty Palaemon, and ‘pon it ride!
There was much by way of Laughter, and no sooner had it ended was
Antinous seen to avail Himself that Darius might go into Him and take