"Horace: Ode I.25" and "Atalanta and Hippomenes"

John Gallagher
  • John Gallagher

Horace: Ode I.25

  • How infrequent now the insistent tap
  • Of bold young fingers at your well-latched sash.
  • No sleepless nights for you: the door that once
  • Rocked loose and lively on an easy hinge
  • Clings stiff and silent at the threshold’s lip.
  • Less and less you hear the old familiar song:
  • “Why do you… why, dear Lydia, my sweet,
  • Sleep the night through, while I die in the street!”
  • Oh, you in turn will weep for faithless loves,
  • When they disdain the old crow for younger birds.
  • You in turn will moan in empty roads
  • Louder than an unruly Thracian wind,
  • When that burning itch of anxious love,
  • Which so often drives the gray mares mad,
  • Rages around your cankerous heart. Lament,
  • You will lament, as lusty young men, flushed
  • With the fervor of spring, delight in green
  • Twists of ivy, the writhing myrtle’s sheen,
  • And cast dry leaves on an icy breeze,
  • Mute oblations back to winter’s bride.

Atalanta and Hippomenes (A contemporary love story)

  • talia dicentem molli Schoeneia vultu
  • adspicit et dubitat, superari an vincere malit.*
  • Ovid Metamorphoses (10.609-610)
  • She’s texting for a hookup, skipping down
  • The apartment stairs. Long-nailed fingers grope for words,
  • Race past the pad in swift necessity: (frown
  • Or smile:) vestigia, grammatic shards
  • (Punctuating play); a wink or wince her sign.
  • Pornography and emoticons replace
  • The carved initials and the heart, refine
  • His ancient impulses to a flashing pace
  • And ringtone touch. (She laughs; she sighs; she rolls
  • Her apple eyes, licks her teeth, rubs her thighs:)
  • A moment’s delay; (she keeps him in suspense;)
  • (Flips the phone closed; opens it:) 3 MISSED CALLS
  • Confirm his appetite and soon convince
  • Her she is his and he her golden prize!
  • ____________________
  • * “Atalanta sees him saying such things with softening eyes
  • And wonders if it’s sweeter to conquer or to be his prize.”

John Gallagher holds B.A. and M.A. degrees in English literature from the University of Dallas. He and his family live in Oregon, where he has worked on the administrative side of higher education for the past 15 years. 

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