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Poems of Catullus: Four Classic Translations

Gaius Valerius Catullus, earthy and bawdy
Gaius Valerius Catullus, earthy and bawdy

Catullus: LVIII by R. C. Trevelyan

  • My Lesbia, that Lesbia, who alone Catullus loved
  • More than himself and all who are most dear to him,
  • Now in cross-roads and alleys trading her charms
  • Fleeces the lordly descendants of Remus.

Catullus: LXX by Sir Philip Sidney

  • “Unto nobody,” my woman saith, “she had rather a wife be
  • Than to myself; not though Jove grew a suitor of hers.”
  • These be her words, but a woman’s words to a love that is eager
  • In wind or water’s streame do require to be writ.”

Catullus: LXXXV by Hugh Macnaghten

  • I hate and love: You question “How?” I lack
  • An answer, but I feel it on the rack.

Catullus De Lesbia (Catullus: XCII) by Jonathan Swift

  • Lesbia for ever on me rails,
  • To talk of me she never fails.
  • Now, hang me, but for all her art,
  • I find that I have gain’d her heart.
  • My proof is this: I plainly see,
  • The case is just the same with me;
  • I curse her every hour sincerely,
  • Yet, hang me but I love her dearly.

Gaius Valerius Catullus (c. 84–54 BC) was a Latin poet of the late Roman Republic; his surviving works are still read widely, and he greatly influenced his Roman successors, including Ovid, Horace, and Vergil. Rediscovered in the Middle Ages, his earthy and bawdy style has in turn shocked and delighted those who translated his work — from schoolboys to accomplished poets.

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Gaius Valerius Catullus, earthy and bawdy
Gaius Valerius Catullus, earthy and bawdy

Catullus: LVIII by R. C. Trevelyan

  • My Lesbia, that Lesbia, who alone Catullus loved
  • More than himself and all who are most dear to him,
  • Now in cross-roads and alleys trading her charms
  • Fleeces the lordly descendants of Remus.

Catullus: LXX by Sir Philip Sidney

  • “Unto nobody,” my woman saith, “she had rather a wife be
  • Than to myself; not though Jove grew a suitor of hers.”
  • These be her words, but a woman’s words to a love that is eager
  • In wind or water’s streame do require to be writ.”

Catullus: LXXXV by Hugh Macnaghten

  • I hate and love: You question “How?” I lack
  • An answer, but I feel it on the rack.

Catullus De Lesbia (Catullus: XCII) by Jonathan Swift

  • Lesbia for ever on me rails,
  • To talk of me she never fails.
  • Now, hang me, but for all her art,
  • I find that I have gain’d her heart.
  • My proof is this: I plainly see,
  • The case is just the same with me;
  • I curse her every hour sincerely,
  • Yet, hang me but I love her dearly.

Gaius Valerius Catullus (c. 84–54 BC) was a Latin poet of the late Roman Republic; his surviving works are still read widely, and he greatly influenced his Roman successors, including Ovid, Horace, and Vergil. Rediscovered in the Middle Ages, his earthy and bawdy style has in turn shocked and delighted those who translated his work — from schoolboys to accomplished poets.

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