CATULLUS 23

Furius, your poor home lacks both safe and slave,
no heating, but no spiders and no fleas.
Your father and your new stepmother have
teeth that can chew through flints as if through cheese.

And you’re just snug there, for the three of you
get on so well. All of you have your health,
all of you look good. Nothing troubles you.
No arson, earthquakes, plots against your wealth

No poisoners can harm you; danger stays
far off. Your bodies must have been freeze-dried
to be so tough. On Winter’s coldest days
or when there’s famine, father and his bride

and you are cheerful. And you still complain?
You never sweat or drool; your fine long nose
is never snotty. And you never deign
to fart or splatter shit. It’s like a rose

your sweet, intricate arse-hole is so clean
your friends could eat from it. And once a year
you squat ten minutes and produce a bean
or something like one, delicate and clear

More like a pearl than shit. Your fingers touch
it and are not stained. Furius,you’re so
blessed in all ways so very very much
you do not need the tenner that I owe.

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About rozkaveney

Middleaged, trans, novelist, poet, activist
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5 Responses to CATULLUS 23

  1. rab62 says:

    When I got to “your friends could eat from it” I was already laughing out loud, so when I reached the last line I could only laugh louder.

    • rozkaveney says:

      Part of the key to translating Catullus is understanding the fact that he is REALLY FUNNY. This one is fairly literal – and to still be funny after two thousand years is something of an achievement.

  2. communicator says:

    Yeah this was a real laugh out loud. Your pacing is just right.

    • rozkaveney says:

      I take little credit for the pacing – except for knowing enough about comic timing to recognize he is really good at it.

      • buggery says:

        Fucking up the pacing when translating from one language to another is far more easily done than avoided.

        I, also, laughed myself breathless at this one. I’ll presume the overall structure is his, as well, and praise you for preserving the way Catullus (presumably) evoked the ripening of a bud through blossom to fruit — and dropping the ‘seed’ at the very end.

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