For Venus

Love that was born from Chaos at the first,
By whom the most often men are accursed,
Was beautiful but like poison despoils;
In wars and intrigues, it snags and embroils.
The child of Venus, when he fires his bow,
Takes heed not at all who his arrows bring low;
This is no surprise – he’s given to vice –
We know this because he spends time at dice.
If Venus, his mother, gives him a toy
He’ll let loose a dart and some wretch destroy.
One must be dumb, if not downright stupid,
If one does not fear Venus and Cupid.
Though Troy was a city wealthy and renowned,
Venusian charms saw it burned to the ground;
Its people were either killed or enslaved,
With the exceptions of those Venus saved;
For long after Priam and Hecuba,
Astyanax, Andromache, and Cassandra,
Were dead or carried away to be slaves,
When Patroclus and Achilles in graves
Had been laid, when Locrian Ajax was drowned,
When Telamonian Ajax had found
The end of his grief at the point of his sword,
When Paris at last had his just reward,
Long after Hector was dragged round the wall,
When Penelope sought the suitors to stall,
When Odysseus still wandered the main,
Then Helen was queen in Sparta again.
What did Venus do when Troy’s blood was spilt?
She went on her way – she never feels guilt.
Aeneas also, who was Venus’ child,
Whose fine hair was curled and carefully styled,
In order to save him from Hera’s wrath
(She jealous for marriage went on a warpath;
She sought in her fury the downfall of Troy,
And Aeneas the Trojan, Venus’ boy),
Sent Cupid her son to strike with his dart
Phoenician Dido to grow in her heart
A love for Aeneas, which he returned;
A passionate fire between them both burned:
Though when at the bidding of Mercury,
He determined again to take to the sea
(For Mercury as the servant of Zeus
Was always quick to be at the king’s use),
The curse of Cupid drove Dido insane;
Contrived she a plan in her fevered brain:
She ordered a pyre be built that she might
Burn Aeneas’ things to curse him for his flight:
But Dido deceived; she was quick to decide
That she desired to commit suicide.
The pyre was constructed, the flames were lit,
And Dido went up upon it to sit;
And thus the founder of Carthage expired:
But Venus in peace from Phoenicia retired.
And Deianira, though she loved Heracles,
Condemned him to death by painful disease;
From this the great man sought for the release
From his torment and pain by his decease.
He was poisoned because his wife believed
The blood of the centaur would cure: but deceived
She was by the same who sought to repay
The wound that he’d gotten and Heracles slay;
He told her before he perished that should
His blood be applied to her husband he would
Be excited with love only for her;
Into a trap did he cunningly lure
Deianira and so she unaware
Gave to Heracles the garment to wear.
The blood of the centaur in death had been mixed,
And into the seams of the garment been fixed,
With blood of the hydra that coated the points
Of Heracles’ arrows, that pierced the joints,
Of Nessus the centaur: thus did he die,
And to Tartarus swift did his soul fly.
When Heracles’ skin touched this blood, then he fell
To the ground in a fit, wholly unwell.
He writhed and he screamed and foamed in his pain,
And begged that in mercy he should be slain:
So he that had felled the Lernaean hydra
Fell to a woman, to Deanira.
He thought he’d taken himself a new wife,
Instead his first spouse took from him his life;
And the men of the land rightly said thus:
This was the work of Cyprian Venus.
The point of this poem, I’m trying to say,
Is that if you’re wise, stay out of the way
Of Cupid’s darts; for more blood has been spilled
By his contrivings than ever Mars killed.
Good looks, the gift of Venus, are a prize
That win more than talent often can devise;
The claims of the ugly that looks don’t matter
Are nothing but their envious chatter.

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