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From Ovid’s The Cures For Love: Version by Peter Valente

Peter Vallone coverexcerpt from Let the Games Begin (Talisman, 2015, available from SPD)


If for some reason you need to stay in the City,
(Ah, let me guess: your mistress!), then please listen to my advice from the City.
That man who snaps the chain around his heart frees himself from pain
and he won’t have to feel sorry for himself anymore.
But this man’s a special case to marvel at and I do
and say to myself: ‘Here’s someone who won’t have to fear my predictions.’
It’s for you, who can’t stop loving or forgetting past mistakes
but who desperately want to, and always fail, for you I am writing this book.
Recall every wicked thing your girl has done,
and remember all the hurt she’s caused you.
‘I give her everything she desires, but she’s never satisfied with anything:
she’s such a greedy wench that even the household gods gave notice the other day.
She swore to me that she was pure and innocent, and, I, the fool, believed her
waiting for hours at her door, until I could barely stand up!
She treats all her lovers with kindness and values their company
but spits on me when I say I love her and wants nothing to do with me,
a drug dealer has nights with her, but I get the cold shoulder!’
Let all this corrupt your feelings:
as you remember, discover the origin of your hatred.
Ask yourself how you could have loved her!
Suffer until you can’t take it: the more you suffer
the more eloquent the expression of your suffering will be.
Recently I was attached to a girl I met in Rome
but she didn’t seem to be interested:
Like a modern day Podalirius I tried to cure myself with drugs and alcohol
but I was not like him and couldn’t cure myself that way.
I felt better when I contemplated the defects of her body:
“How ugly her legs are” I’d say to myself
and yet they were very pretty.
“How her arms sag” I’d say to myself
and yet they really didn’t.
‘How short she is!’ but she wasn’t
“After I went broke trying to support her expensive habits
she asked me for money to buy larger jewels”
And that’s where I drawn the line.
I hated her most for that reason.
The good is so close to the bad
we often mistake one for the other.
Develop a habit mocking your lover
and purposely warp your judgment,
confuse the boundary between good and bad:
Call her “manly” if she has an athletic build.
If she’s “dark skinned” call her black.
If she’s thin say she looks like a “skeleton”.
If she’s modest, call her a “brazen whore”.
If she’s honest, say she’s “gullible”
Encourage those talents your woman lacks,
and applaud her great efforts:
If she can’t sing have her practice Rosetta’s part in the score from Rossini’s opera.
If she can’t dance to save her life audition her for the Russian ballet.
If she speaks like a barbarian let her recite Proust.
If she can’t play a single chord ask her to play a fugue on the guitar.
If she develops asthma when she runs sign her up for a marathon.
If she has pimples on her breast spend a lot of time at a topless beach.
If her teeth are ugly learn as many jokes as you can to make her laugh.
If she has watery eyes tell her stories that make her cry.
And if you can, surprise her at dawn
when she has no make-up on her face.
She’ll put on a fancy dress, wear jewelry and look great,
so we don’t think of her imperfections,
but what we see is not the truth about her.
Ask yourself where’s that special thing I love about her
behind all these gems and fancy dresses.
All this “putting on of appearances” deceives the lover.
Surprise her when she’s not expecting it
and you’ll find all her faults in plain view.
That should be enough to devalue her in your eyes.
But, unfortunately, this is not always the case.
Sometimes “the fresh, natural look” is deceptive.
Finally, what you must do is spy on her
while she’s applying all that make-up in front of the mirror.
You’ll see her mix all the colors of the rainbow,
and various other concoctions, some of which drip onto her sagging tits.
She does this to get an effect.
But the whole bathroom stinks like Phineus’ dinner table
and recalling that stench even now makes me want to vomit.