When with a skillful hand Prometheus made
A statue that the human form displayed,
Pandora, his own work, to wed he chose,
And from those two the human race arose.
When first to know herself the fair began,
She played her smile's enchantment upon man;
By softness and alluring speech she gained
The ascendant, and her master soon enchained;
Her beauty on Prometheus' sense ne'er palled,
And the first husband was the first enthralled.
The god of war soon saw the new-formed fair;
His manly beauty and his martial air,
His golden casque and all his glittering arms
Pandora pleased, and he enjoyed her charms.
When the sea's ruler in his humid court
Had heard of this intrigue from fame's report,
The fair he sought, a like reception found,
Could Neptune fail where Mars a triumph found?
Day's light-haired god from his resplendent height
Their pleasures saw, and hoped the same delight;
She could not to refuse him have the heart,
Who o'er the day presides and every art.
Mercury with eloquence declared his flame,
And in his turn he triumphed o'er the dame.
Squalid and sooty from his forge, at first
Vulcan was ill-received, and gave disgust;
But he by importunity obtained
What other gods with so much ease had gained.
Pandora's prime thus winged with pleasure flew,
Then she in languor lived, nor wherefore knew.
She that devotes to love her life's first spring,
As years increase can do no other thing;
For e'en to gods inconstancy is known,
And those who dwell in heaven to change are prone.
Pandora of her favours had been free
To gods who left her; happening then to see
A satyr who through plains and meadows strayed,
Smit with his mien, she love-advances made.
To these amours our race existence owes,
From such amusements all mankind arose;
Hence those varieties in talents spring,
In genius, passions, business, everything:
To Vulcan one, to Mars one owes his birth,
This to a satyr; very few on earth
Claim any kindred with the god of day,
Few that celestial origin display.
From parents each his taste and turn derives:
But most of all trades now Pandora's thrives;
The most delightful, though least rare it seems,
And is the trade all Paris most esteems.
Voltaire [François Marie Arouet] (1694 - 1778) France
Translated by William F. Fleming
Source: Poetry Archive