"In a voice mellifluous as a gentle shower of honey, without faltering, without throwing in filler words, very gracefully, the goose made a highly learned presentation. [...] She also demonstrated her proficiency in poetry, dramaturgy, poetics, music, and erotic science."
The goose Sucimukhi was taught by Saraswati, Goddess of Learning and Speech, and given the title "Mother of Similes and Hyperbole." In this gorgeous, witty, sensual fifteenth-century novel from south India, she helps resolve a war in Heaven by match-making between Pradyumna, Krishna's son, and Prabhavati, the daughter of a demon king.
If you skim the genealogies at the very beginning, you don't need to already have a background in Indian myth and religion to appreciate this short novel, which can be enjoyed on many levels: as a love story told in luscious, Song of Solomon-like metaphors; as a love story punctuated by metafictional commentary and sly parodies of the overblown conventions of love stories; as myth; as a small taste of a literary culture that I suspect most of you haven't encountered before. (I mean fifteenth century Telegu literature, not Indian literature in general.)
Unlike a lot of literature which was clearly hot at the time but not to modern readers' erotic tastes... this is still hot. At least, I thought so. There are many more explicit passages, but I was particularly taken with this one, in which Prabhvati's girlfriend helps her arrange her hair for her first meeting with her beloved, and breaks into spontaneous poetry:
If you let your hair down, you look beautiful.
When you let it hang halfway, you look beautiful, too.
If it gets tangled, you're beautiful in a different way.
If you comb it down, even more so.
You can braid it, roll it into a bun, or better still
tie it into a knot on the side.
You're beautiful with that hair every which way.
It's long, black, and so thick
you can't hold it in one hand.
No matter how you wear it,
you'll trap your husband with your hair.