September 8th, 2010


And finally Catullus 7

This is a bit more free than I'd ideally like - the ending is far more mine than his, but sometimes you just can't make strict accuracy work for you.

You've asked me, Lesbia, how many more
of our fond kisses might be just enough
to satisfy me. Asking is a bluff
but I'll give you my answer. On the shore

of Africa, line up each single grain
of sand, and count them individually.
The Pyramids' stone blocks, waves of each sea,
leaves on all trees, and every drop of rain -

still not enough. Count every quiet star
that gazes down through night at our bright love.
There aren't as many of them. From above
they know how very much in love we are,

but they can't count our kisses, kisses I'm
sure will stretch out beyond the end of time.

(no subject)


A woman cradling a dead man. That much
anyone human knows. That he is god,
or that she is his mother may seem odd
to most. The marble's cold and hard to touch

But looks like tender flesh. A hammer's blows
Shattered it once. Bystanders stole the bits
As holy relics or mementos. It's
great they rebuilt it, and yet no-one knows

where many of the pieces went. They carved
Her new nose from her unseen back; cement
restoring beauty. Faithless, I consent
to love such statues still. I am not starved

by losing faith, but rather I rebuild,
as human, love and beauty worship killed.


Beloved, you're my life, so let's agree
that what we've got now lasts eternally.
You gods, stand as her good word's guarantee
that she speaks truely from the heart. Thus we
Shake hands. It's peace and not a victory.
We'll live in bliss forever faithfully.

(no subject)


The people's hate will catch you when you're old
when vice has rotted you. I hear them say
Tradition lays down punishments. I'm told
That first your vicious tongue gets carved away
A buzzard's meal. Your eyes two ravens hold
A moment in their beaks then gulp. That day
your guts are a dog's dinner eaten cold
the other bits fierce wolves will drag away

And a long one to make up for the short ones ---


I cannot write a word; they have all fled
From me, Hortalus, and the muses too.
My pain's a maelstrom, My thoughts batter through
like stormy waves at sea. My brother's dead.

An eddy out of Hell's dark river caught
his foot and tugged him. He was far from me
by Troy's wrecked walls, Rhoeteum's promontory,
dragged from our sight. I cannot bear the thought

I'll not see him again, yet love will last
and memory will bring him back. I'll long
to see him, and I'll mourn him in my song,
as sad as Procne, haunted by her past,

who, nightingaled, sang for the much-loved son
she killed, cooked, served her husband in a bun.

Meanwhile though, I must send you back your book
I'm feeling guilty. All this meant I took

Ages to read Callimachus. My mind
Was elsewhere but your verses brought me back,
A good translation's something we all lack,
that you have given us. In it I find

This tale of absent-mindedness. A boy
Gives his sweetheart an apple that she hides
inside her dress, and suddenly it slides
from where she left it, when she jumps for joy

seeing her mum come home, but what a shame!
the apple falls, she trips. Her mother knows
she got it from the boy. A huge row blows
up and forgetfulness is all to blame.