The Ode of Fulvius
The Third Ode to Antinous was delivered by Titus
The boy-god, by tongues, did pleasure Fronto,
Who thus, by ebbing sigh, did lapse away.
So Palaemon, (as drowned boys are wont to)
Down upon the beach His body He lay.
Let us, like the breeze and birds, observe Him:
These gentle limbs of lifeless languor strewn;
Sparkling beads that ‘pon his eyebrows brim;
Hair, like dark sea-grass, matted in the dune.
A hero’s death is He; A lyric woe;
A tale to feed for ages endless song.
(Indeed, we here this night must prove it so:
For oft who dwells on boy-gods sings too long!
But look at him! The parallel is pure:
Antinous hath Palaemon’s allure!)
Behold, in this bold pastoral, a pine.
Let us in our mind’s eye envision it:
But slightly curved doth climb its wooden spine,
Fanning to a bramble of branch and spit;
Its masses of leaves, verdant yet narrow,
Have made on the windswept shore what’s wanted –
Firm but pliant, this creature hath marrow,
And faces the ocean storms undaunted.
Lo, ‘twould appear our picture hath inspired…
For see here Palaemon – perfectly dead –
Is, evidently, beneath what’s attired,
Sprouting for himself such a tree foresaid!
I prithee, O dead one (whose loins yet live),
Art willing by Thy pine some shade to give?
Let me be the fellow who finds you here:
Let me be Sisyphus, who tumbles down
At Thy stalk, and sheds for his joy a tear.
O, but to linger! To remove my crown
And rest a while; jest a while with the gods.
‘Tis strange: tho’ draped in a royal fatigue,
I feel myself compelled, ‘gainst awesome odds,
To labour! To work! Does that not intrigue?
Like to my destiny be this – this act:
This up and down; this over and again;
This rhythmic attune to an artefact
Of endless demand on our band of men.
Be this punishment or bliss impending?
I cannot say, but thirst for its ending!
Antinous, with the Others, did marvel and rejoice. And Fulvius took
Antinous into his mouth and Pleasured Him as He did to Fronto before.