Not long ago I posted three translations of poems about lamps, each from a different book of the Anthology. The oil-lamp is an erotic motif first and foremost because every bedroom has one, whether or not there are lovers around to profit from the light it sheds. In one poem (5.190) Meleager wonders whether he will arrive at his girl's place to find her
...chasing sleep, | Sobbing her woes, the lamp alone to hear,
-- though he thinks it more likely he will catch her 'with another man again'.
Here are my versions of two such lamp poems, from the Anthology's fifth book, where the erotic epigrams live. Neither of these is in my World's Classics selection.
Lamp, you were there when Heraclea swore
That she would come, and still she is not here.
She swore by you; so if you are a god,
Frustrate that lying woman. Every time
She entertains a caller, douse your flame,
And steal the lamplight from their indoor game.
Bosom to bosom, breast that leaned on breast,
Lips clasped to lips of sweet Antigone;
Flesh reaching out to flesh. I say no more
Of what our confidant, the oil-lamp, saw.