Page:The Kiss and its History.djvu/57

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43
LOVE KISSES

I must, however, take Catullus' part to a certain extent; he is not so precise in his demands of Lesbia as Du Bellay makes out; in another poem he asks her:

Thy kisses dost thou bid me count,
And tell thee, Lesbia, what amount
My rage for love and thee could tire,
And satisfy and cloy desire?

And the answer runs:

Many as grains of Libyan sand
Upon Cyrene's spicy land
From prescient Ammon's sultry dome
To sacred Battus' ancient tomb;
Many as stars that silent ken
At night the stolen loves of men.
Yes, when the kisses thou shalt kiss
Have reached a number vast as this,
Then may desire at length be stayed,
And e'en my madness be allayed:
Then when infinity defies
The calculations of the wise;
Nor evil voice's deadly charm,
Can work the unknown number harm.

This being the case, it is a divine blessing that, according to the Finnish saying, "the mouth is not torn by being kissed, nor the hand by being squeezed":

Suu ei kulu suudellessa,
Käsi kättä annellessa.