CATULLUS 65 – HORTALUS
I cannot write a word; they have all fled
From me, Hortalus, and the muses too.
My pain’s a maelstrom, My thoughts batter through
like stormy waves at sea. My brother’s dead.
An eddy out of Hell’s dark river caught
his foot and tugged him. He was far from me
by Troy’s wrecked walls, Rhoeteum’s promontory,
dragged from our sight. I cannot bear the thought
I’ll not see him again, yet love will last
and memory will bring him back. I’ll long
to see him, and I’ll mourn him in my song,
as sad as Procne, haunted by her past,
who, nightingaled, sang for the much-loved son
she killed, cooked, served her husband in a bun.
Meanwhile though, I must send you back your book
I’m feeling guilty. All this meant I took
Ages to read Callimachus. My mind
Was elsewhere but your verses brought me back,
A good translation’s something we all lack,
that you have given us. In it I find
This tale of absent-mindedness. A boy
Gives his sweetheart an apple that she hides
inside her dress, and suddenly it slides
from where she left it, when she jumps for joy
seeing her mum come home, but what a shame!
the apple falls, she trips. Her mother knows
she got it from the boy. A huge row blows
up and forgetfulness is all to blame.