A History of Love



Amorem, Psyche, History of Love
A History of Love, Psyche and the Tribunal of Venus, John Cheney after Evariste Fragonard


audentem Forsque Venusque iuvat


Ἄειδε μοῦσά μοι φίλη,
μολπῆς δ’ ἐμῆς κατάρχου·
αὔρη δὲ σῶν ἀπ’ ἀλσέων
ἐμὰς φρένας δονείτω.



Dear readers all: You will recall that Dante
..Lettered Laura, though never braved to kiss her.
Recall that Petrarch rhymed his Beatrice
..Respectfully, because he feared to bliss her.
Ovidius did boast that he was bold,
But “Corrina” is a myth, we are told.

Yet my Filelle is real, as so am I.
..No need of sly devices literary.
No need to pose.  I write what I do try
..On her and tell what she did try on me.
Most other poets merely praise their Muse,
Yet I confess how I put Her to use.

Pilgrims along the way to Canterbury
..In rhyme to pass the time tell lusty stories,
As pilgrims will in language blunt, yet merry,
..Of ruts that fail, of sex, and true love’s glories.
Just so I sing as Christian pilgrims do
By sharing tales of she and me, me and you.

My Dears: Now to the purpose without pause
..To gloss, to shy, to plea, to here conclude
This teasing introduction of our cause,
..Amorem: A History of Love, prelude
To a text of lust and sex that’s scholarly
And tweedy, Byron-like, epistolary.


Amorem, Fates, History of Love
A History of Love, The Three Fates, Alexander Rothaug


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Verse I (of IX) of part A, the Epistle


When first the pen is used to praise a Muse,
  ‘Tis best to pause before a word is said
In haste … be cautious in the rhymes you choose
  To frame the phrase; for, as the verse is read
Before the god, a Zeus or Aphrodite,             
Reflect: You are a mortal, they, almighty,
And you at any moment may become
  A shrub, a flint, a newt, a buzzing fly
That flits about the nostrils or the bum
  Where Io-like in tail’s swat, you’ll die.
Such is the will of god on all who write
Of Love in fashions paltry, artless, trite.

Fear then the righteous wrath of the immortals
  For now by deed in word our song begins,
And though my err be not your fault at all,
  Yet, ‘tis common gods curse two for one in sin.
For this my Dear, my Love, I’ll do my best,
Avoid the Hell, find bliss where Art is blessed.

How then to pen of Love, Filelle, my Sweet:
  Shall we compose as Romans did, as Greeks;
Shall we create in brief, in iambs neat,
  Or wildly range o’er elegiac peaks;
Perhaps in paeans stoutly sung in chorus;
Perhaps in quiet monody, just us.

My Sweet: In songs of Love ‘tis best to praise
  As Pindar did in bold enkomion;
And yet, when lips are close in whispered phrase,
  Wine touched, love pours into symposion,
A kottabos when we shall toss the lees
Dizzy by Dionysus, looped and giddy.

Why then: We two should sing of Love in Art
  As when, wine full, the kouros eyes the target,
Lets fly the javelin to pierce the mark,
  A kottabos to ring the disk and get
The lucky kiss … in this we two must train
To win; why, let us practice now, soon, again

Until an excellence is won in arts
  Of Love.  Of Lust there will be time enough,
No cause to sparrow-like rush on a start         
  By darting in-and-out … with verse, hold-up,
As in a race slow, meter to your pace,
Then measure stride-to-breath to grow in grace.

In Thrace, Anacreon well knew his trade,
  Knew how to fit his filly’s bit, to bend
Her and to make her run.  But was she laid?
  We both might like to think it so.  What end
The gods intend will be a mystery;
Yet, a filly laid is all of history.

‘Tis true: The gods do smile on god-like things,
  On sacrifice with style, on ecstasies
Unusual — the gods have seen it all — which brings
  Us to the thought where we began.  You see:
Filelle, we shall fashion love in poetry
That they … that you be pleased with this, and show it me.


Amorem, Nymph, History of Love
A History of Love, Centaur Abducting a Nymph, Alexander Rothaug


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And there it is, a book in highest fashion
..Of low passions and of the lovers’ laws.
A case that questions each lustful relation,
..As does the eager lawyer challenge cause,
Effect, the fault or grace of witness, then
To judge of woman fulled by fulsome man.

My Dears, all that we know we know by Art.
..We know aesthetic Beauty fleshed and stone,
We know by eyes that sport, by tongues that flirt,
..By hands that fashion pleasures while they roam.
We know the dream is long, the bloom is brief,
We know that Art survives the breath of life.

Our Book of Love has learned from common men
..And from the ladies of the street and night.
Our book preserves the dignity of women
..And offers men a Sword of Truth to fight.
Behind a Shield of Virtue we assay
The enemies of Love with sharp essay.

Our History of Love, named here, “Amorem”,
..Resolves itself into tight Cantos three,
Each Canto is tripartite nine’d, and summed
..In stanzas of six rhyming lines, A/B,
A/B, C/C.  Amorem is the story,
The canon of Love’s full delight and glory.

Now, let us picture eager lovers who
..Do grow by Art.  Then, with a moral eye
See nudes who God designed and wryly drew,
..Which I will outline true in copies spry.
Though Love is old and tired, and tried a thousand times,
Yet we intend to write Her fresh in refreshing lines.


Amorem, Dido, History of Love
A History of Love, Dido, Alexander Rothaug


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AMOREM (love affair)

AMARE (make love)

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audentem Forsque Venusque iuvat = Venus, like Fortuna, favours the bold

Hymn to the Muse, Mesomedes of Crete: Sing to me, kind Muse / and begin my song / Send a breeze from your groves / to stir my mind.  Early AD I

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One of nine books recently completed or nearing completion.  Not included in the bi-monthly book-release schedule (2024–2026).

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Amorem, sample page
Amorem: A History of Love, Frontispiece




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