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Isles and Ancient Poetry

September 4, 2013

I posted another poem, ‘Heart Shaped Map’ for my little poetry project titled ‘Isles’. My projects are just compilations of my better poems from where I am in space and time currently. This poem was inspired by a song from the Alaskan band 36 Crazyfists called ‘Destroy the Map’.

Ancient Poetry. I studied creative writing and Classical Greek and Roman history at university. One of my favourite ancient poets and personalities was the Roman writer, Catullus, from the 1st century B.C. around the time of Gaius Julius Caesar  He is often called the original love poet and was widely influential to other classical poets and is still today. His poetry is often explicit and he is brutally honest with his writings, often talking about love, hate, people stealing something from him, commentary about Romans of the time, and all manner of things. We have lost so many writings from these times, but by luck a good whack of Catullus’ work was saved. You will not regret having a look at him and may be quite surprised. I will post a couple of my favourites of his translated poems below and the link to the website where you may read some more. Enjoy.

These are not my favourite translations of these poems, but they are sufficient.

This first is a message sent to Catullus’s friend, Furius, who just needs a little more cash.

23. Poverty: to Furius

Furius, you who’ve neither slaves nor cash
nor beetles nor spiders nor fire,
truly have a father and step-mother,
whose teeth can chew like flints:
that’s fine for you, and your father
and your father’s wooden wife.
No wonder: since you’re all well,
good digestion, nothing to fear,
no flames, no weighty disasters,
no wicked deeds, no threat of poison,
no chance of further dangers.
And you’ve a body drier than bone
or whatever is most desiccated
by heat and cold and hunger.
Why wouldn’t you be well and happy?
You’ve no sweat, no phlegm,
or mucus, or evil cold in the head.
To this cleanliness add more cleanliness,
your arse is purer than a little salt-cellar,
and doesn’t crap ten times in a year:
and your shit’s harder than beans or pebbles.
So if you rub it and crush it between your fingers,
you can’t stain a single finger:
it all suits you so happily Furius,
don’t despise it, or consider it nothing,
and cease to beg for that hundred sestertia
you always ask for: sufficiency is riches.

 

This second one is a message from Catullus to his famous love interest, Lesbia. He hopes his friends Furius and Aurelius can send this charming little message to her.

11. Words against Lesbia: to Furius and Aurelius

Furius and Aurelius, you friends of Catullus,
whether he penetrates farthest India,
where the Eastern waves strike the shore
with deep resonance,
or among the Hyrcanians and supple Arabs,
or Sacians and Parthian bowmen,
or where the seven-mouthed Nile
colours the waters,
or whether he’ll climb the high Alps,
viewing great Caesar’s monuments,
the waters of Gallic Rhine,
and the furthest fierce Britons,
whatever the will of the heavens
brings, ready now for anything,
tell my girl this in a few
ill-omened words.
Let her live and be happy with her adulterers,
hold all three-hundred in her embrace,
truly love-less, wearing them all down
again and again: let her not look for
my love as before,
she whose crime destroyed it, like the last
flower of the field, touched once
by the passing plough.

 

I sourced these translations from this website below. Translated by A. S. Kline © 2001 All Rights Reserved

http://www.poetryintranslation.com/PITBR/Latin/Catullus.htm#_Toc531846739

 

 

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