The poems of Gaius Valerius Catullus (Cornish)/Carmina I-XXX


I

To whom am I to present my pretty new book, freshly smoothed off with dry pumice stone? To you, Cornelius: for you used to think that my trifles were worth something, long ago when you took courage, you alone of Italians5, to set forth the whole history of the world in three volumes, learned volumes, by Jupiter, and laboriously wrought. So take and keep for your own this little book, such as it is, and whatever it is worth; and may it, O Virgin my patroness, live and last for more than one century. 10

II

Sparrow, my lady's pet, with whom she often plays and holds you in her bosom, or gives you her finger-tip to peck and teases you to bite sharply, whenever she, the bright-shining lady of my love, has 5a fancy for some dear dainty toying, that (as I think) when the sharper pangs of love abate, she may find some small solace of her pain—ah, might I but play with you as she herself does, and lighten the gloomy 10cares of my heart!

II a (a fragment)

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This is as grateful to me as to the swift maiden was (they say) the golden apple, which loosed her girdle too long tied.

III

Mourn, ye Graces and Loves, and all you whom the Graces love. My lady's sparrow is dead, the sparrow my lady's pet, whom she loved more than 5her own eyes; for honey-sweet he was, and knew his mistress as well as a girl knows her very mother. Nor would he stir from her bosom, but hopping now here, now there, still chirped to his mistress alone. 10Now he goes along the dark road, thither whence they say no one returns. But curse upon you, cursed shades of Orcus, which devour all pretty things! such a pretty sparrow have you taken away from 15me. Ah, how sad! Ah, poor little bird! All because of you my lady's darling eyes are heavy and red with weeping.


IV

The galley you see, my friends, says that she was once the fleetest of ships, and that there was never any timber afloat whose speed she was not able to pass, whether she would fly with oar-blades or with 5canvas. And this (says she) the shore of the blustering Adriatic does not deny, nor the Cyclad islands and famous Rhodes and the wild Thracian Propontis, nor the gloomy gulf of Pontus, where she who has since been a galley was formerly a leafy 10 forest: for in the height of Cytorus she often rustled with talking leaves. Pontic Amastris and Cytorus green with box, my galley says that all this was and is well known to thee; she says that from her earliest15 birthtime she stood on thy top, in thy waters first dipped her blades, and thence over so many riotous seas brought her owner, whether the breeze from left or right invited, or Jove20 came down astern on both sheets at once; and that no vows to the gods of the shore were made by her all the time she was sailing from the furthest sea even to this limpid lake.

But these things are past and gone; now she25 rests in old age and retired leisure, and dedicates herself to thee, twin Castor, and thee, Castor's twin.

V

Let us live, my Lesbia, and love, and value at one farthing all the talk of crabbed old men.

Suns may set and rise again. For us, when the short light has once set, remains to be slept the sleep5 of one unbroken night.

Give me a thousand kisses, then a hundred, then another thousand, then a second hundred, then yet another thousand, then a hundred. Then, when we10 have made up many thousands, we will confuse our counting, that we may not know the reckoning, nor any malicious person blight them with evil eye, when he knows that our kisses are so many.

VI

Flavius, if it were not that your mistress is rustic and unrefined, you would want to speak of her to your Catullus; you would not be able to help it. But (I am sure) you are in love with some unhealthy-looking wench; and you are ashamed to confess it. 5

Well then, whatever you have to tell, good or bad, let me know it. I wish to call you and your love to the skies by the power of my merry verse.

VII

You ask how many kissings of you, Lesbia, are enough for me and more than enough. As great as is the number of the Libyan sand that lies on silphium-bearing Cyrene, between the oracle of sultry5 Jove and the sacred tomb of old Battus; or as many as are the stars, when night is silent, that see the stolen loves of men, — to kiss you with so many kisses, Lesbia, is enough and more than enough for your10 mad Catullus; kisses, which neither curious eyes may be able to count up nor an evil tongue to bewitch.

VIII

Poor Catullus, 'tis time you should cease your folly, and account as lost what you see is lost. Once the days shone bright on you, when you used to go so often where the maiden led, the maiden loved by me as none will ever be loved. There were5 given us then those joys, so many, so merry, which you desired nor did the maiden not desire. Bright to you, truly, shone the days. Now she desires no more — no more should you desire, poor fool, nor follow her who flies, nor live in misery, but with re-10 solved mind endure, be firm. Farewell, maiden; now Catullus is firm; he will not seek you nor ask you