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In the middle of the afternoon In the middle of the street – Alexis! Summer had all but brought the fruit To its perilous end: And the summer sun and that boy's look Did their work on me!
O shrill-voiced mosquitoes, you shameless pack, suckers of men's blood, Night's winged beasts of prey, let Zenophila, I beseech you, sleep a little in peace, and come and devour these my limbs. But why do I supplicate in vain? Even pitiless wild beasts rejoice in the warmth of her tender body. But I give you early warning, cursed creatures: no more of this audacity, or you shall feel the strength of jealous hands.
Fly for me, mosquito, and lighting on the rim of Zenophila's ear whisper thus: "He lies awake expecting you, and you sleep, you sluggard, who forget those who love you." Whrr away! yes, sweet piper, away! But speak lowly to her, lest you awake her companion of the night and arouse jealousy in me to pain her. But if you bring me the girl, I will hood your head, mosquito, with the lion's skin and give you a club to carry in your hand.
Lost! Love, wild Love! Even now at dawn he went his way, taking wing from his bed. The boy is thus- sweetly tearful, ever chattering, quick and impudent, laughing with a sneer, with wings on his back, and a quiver slung. As for his father's name I can't give it you; for neither Sky nor Earth nor Sea confess to the rascal's parentage. For everywhere and by all he is hated; look out, he is setting new snares for hearts. But wait! There he is near his nest! Ah, little archer, so you thought to hide from me there in Zenophila's eyes!
Note: The translations are taken from the edition by W.R.Paton (1916-18), but have been modified to remove some of the archaic language and to impose (!) a modern triadic stanza. — Michael Simms
Meleager of Gadara ( 1st century BC) was a poet and collector of epigrams. He is known for his short love poems for both boys and women, of which 134 survive. He also compiled numerous epigrams from diverse poets in an anthology known as the Garland, and although this collection does not survive intact, it is the original basis for the Greek Anthology.
Copyright 2022 Michael Simms