Apparently my brain decided that translating Latin poetry was only fun over a decade after I'd taken a Latin class. This happened when I wanted to look up and post a particular poem (which I'd translated in Latin class), only to find that all the translations I could find easily were *wrong*. Also, I seem to remember more about Latin than I thought, although I'm still a bit rusty so I apologize for any errors in this translation. But I think it is more correct than the other one I found on poets.org
, which goes way off in the second and third stanzas - I don't even know where he's getting that stuff. Poetic license, I guess?
Just a bit of context: Catullus lived in the 1st century BCE, and is writing this poem to his (married) mistress. The name does not indicate that she was a lesbian. Rather, it's a pseudonym he gave her to protect her identity. The poem is mainly concerned with others seeing their true passionate love and jinxing them, giving them the Evil Eye, etc.*
Let us live, my Lesbia, and let us love,
and let us value the rumors of old men at only one cent.
The sun is able to set in the west and return:
we return once only with brief light,
night is one perpetual sleep.
Give me a thousand kisses, then one hundred,
then another thousand, then a second hundred,
then anywhere another thousand, then one hundred.
then, with many thousands having been made,
we do not know [their number]; we will continuously disrupt
any who have the power to envy maliciously,
with his knowledge of how many be our kisses.**( Original Latin, for the curious )
**I fudged the grammar on the last line a bit to make it make sense in English, but that's the basic gist of it.
ETA: And by remarkable coincidence, Catullus seems to be the poet of the hour, as jjhunter
has posted an excellent translation
of this poem over on poetry
. So now you can read/compare if you so choose.