Catullus 50

We were up late. Our keyboards nearly burned
from all the jokes and bitching, even verse,
My head hurt. It’s as if I somehow earned
Pain you’d expect from wine from wit. The worse

I feel, the better time I know I had –
I wanted more. Why can’t it be the same
when we’re together? Would it be so bad?
Why is our conversation always tame

the nights we’re fucking? Lying in your bed,
legs wrapped around each other, pretty boy,
this simple verse is beating in my head.
We mustn’t want too much. It might annoy

The goddess Nemesis. that horrid bitch.
She keeps us poor in love, who could be rich.


About rozkaveney

Middleaged, trans, novelist, poet, activist
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11 Responses to Catullus 50

  1. crowleycrow says:

    These are so wonderfully clever and apt. I’m not sure about the doubly-purposed “who” in the last line — that is I’m not sure if i like it or not and not sure I could do better.

    I don’t know if I’ve mentioned the trandlations by Carl Sesar, my favotites in some ways, but little known. 50 isn;t one of his triumphs, but here are his last lines:

    But I’m so worn out now I can hardy move,
    so, practically half-dead from my bedside,
    here, beautiful, I wrote this poem for you.
    Well, now you know what my trouble is.
    And I’m warning you, don;t get too smart,
    and you’d better not turn me down either,
    sweetheart, or Nemesis will take care of you.
    She’s a strict goddess, don;t play with her.

    Your last couplet is much superior (though the “rich” part’s your own.)

    • rozkaveney says:

      I considered ‘that could be rich’ but somehow it’s harsher. How does Sesar handle the Attis poem, which is the one I am sort of building up to? Because while I know perfectly well that the way I want to read it is incorrect and ahistorical, it’s always a temptation to look for, as it were, ancestors…

  2. swisstone says:

    I like the way you make explicit what is considerably less so in the Latin and what many translations and commentaries try to gloss over. As you say, versions.

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