Sunday, 4 October 2009
I love the poems of Catullus, I love the passion they contain…and the anger. He was a man who knew how to express feelings in verse; oh, how he could express himself. Here are one or two of my favourites, each in a different mood. Please be warned: he does not pull punches!
Let’s Live and Love: to Lesbia
Let us live, my Lesbia, let us love,
and all the words of the old, and so moral,
may they be worth less than nothing to us!
Suns may set, and suns may rise again:
but when our brief light has set,
night is one long everlasting sleep.
Give me a thousand kisses, a hundred more,
another thousand, and another hundred,
and, when we’ve counted up the many thousands,
confuse them so as not to know them all,
so that no enemy may cast an evil eye,
by knowing that there were so many kisses.
Invitation: to Fabullus
You’ll dine well, in a few days, with me,
if the gods are kind to you, my dear Fabullus,
and if you bring lots of good food with you,
and don’t come without a pretty girl
and wine and wit and all your laughter.
I say you’ll dine well, and charmingly,
if you bring all that: since your Catullus’s
purse alas is full of cobwebs.
But accept endearments in return for the wine
or whatever’s sweeter and finer:
since I’ll give you a perfume my girl
was given by the Loves and Cupids,
and when you’ve smelt it, you’ll ask the gods
to make you, Fabullus, all nose.
A Rebuke: to Aurelius and Furius
I’ll fuck you and bugger you,
Aurelius the pathic, and sodomite Furius,
who thought you knew me from my verses,
since they’re erotic, not modest enough.
It suits the poet himself to be dutifully chaste,
his verses not necessarily so at all:
which, in short then, have wit and good taste
even if they’re erotic, not modest enough,
and as for that can incite to lust,
I don’t speak to boys, but to hairy ones
who can’t move their stiff loins.
You, who read all these thousand kisses,
you think I’m less of a man?
I’ll fuck you, and I’ll bugger you.