He runs her gamut of enticements, wields her treacly charmmy deariedums, my sweetikins, my love-came-to-my-arms

so lavishly she pets and preens, so lavishly she flatters
she gives her all, asks no returns, it's yours, it hardly matters.

her strictly legal honeycombs, her paradise of treats
who' d argue with a tyrant so replete with scents and sweets

demands are couched in gentle terms, obsequious request,
her discipline is just as mild: your study, room arrest

prodigal with her radiance, her panaceas of cheer
the lady with the linament! One glance - pains disappear

like horses they stand, neck on neck, frozen in a kiss
and would remain so evermore epitomes of bliss

they' d stay like this for ever requiescat in pace,
their feet resting on little dogs, one stone dog for each party


but when the fit is on her then her fiery eyes grow mean
the steely glance becomes a blade, Madame la Guillotine

her mood flare florid, frosty broadsides brook no interruption
her ready fret and fury shows the tyrant in eruption

it isn t done? Where have you put it! Am I supposed to find it? She makes it clear what is your stuff and where she has consigned it.)

spend all this money? pay so much? When this won't feed a fly?
Such trivial botching? This? You call this housework, darling? why?

So this is how a man does housework? What is so amusing?
The dusty sideboard, the creased pillow both look on accusing

a filthy mess, a leaking pipe, a fire in the attic? A fine homecoming! You are so annoying, so pathetic

and when she flings her locks back and shakes them in a fit
be sure she I' lI smack her babyboa, she`ll lord-and-lady it

a dripping rope, a cycle chain - mechanics of command sirrah, the whip! The fool is beat, the lash lies close to hand

though other times it's sweetiepíe, or sweetiedums or sweetie, should gravy slop on hís new suit the treatment's bevond entreaty

a soft boiled egg might smear his cuff eliciting a slap
black forest gateau sadly slip and slíther in his lap

She only has to turn the key, her footsteps are a caution
when they are heavy - he can forecast what will be his portion
sweetiepoops's shirt's askew, his bellybutton peeping,
lel him scuff and potter about all night without sleeping

moustache is a bedraggled tail, his duck`s arse mane is spiky,
infuriating his whole being, his coxcombly psyche

sweetiepoops but opens his mouth in unpropitious dither
a hefty swipe makes one ear ring, the wall slams on the other

should he grimace or should he grin, he shifts from foot to foot
his essence shrinks and fits her palm, he' s shrivelled and mínute

heel already bound behind him, waist snapped, suicidal
the strap off his own back provides a useful bit and bridle

a thumbscrew wanted? It's on tap no need to go and fetch
behold the female tyrant, public hangdame, Ms Jack Ketch


but when the turning of the lock portends a gentler mood
you'll kiss the gilt edge of her cape with mild solicitude

she goes on tiptoe, líttle scamp, her little hooves clipclopping
comes dripping with a Christmas tree and gifts of copious shopping

here are twopence-coloured books, postcards in profusion
(the tyranny is inhumane yet blessed with constitution)

no need to eat and drink she'll blithely waive necessity In her be-gateauxed, clownish, ímperíal capacíty

like horses they stand, neck on neck, frozen in a kiss and would remain so evermore: epitomes of bliss

they'd stay like this for ever, requiescat in pace, their feet resting on little dogs, one stone dog for each party

smiling, all-embracing, serene, all things at her beck
the swelling cello of her hips the viol of her neck

it is a yoke, it weighs one down and yet how it bewitches a sleight of hand decapitates, the headless body twitches

her burden's joy, her tyranny diversion in a wife,
you'll snug down with her in her nest within the Tree of Life

Translated by George Szirtes



  © All rights belong to the authors or their heirs. 2004.