Friday, March 11, 2011

Catullus, Poem 17

Gaius Valerius Catullus
84-54 BCE (over 2,000 years ago)
Trans. RMBullard
Latin (Golden Age)

O Colonia, quae cupis ponte longo/et salire paratum habes, sed vereris inepta/crura ponticuli axulis stantis in redivivis/ne supinus eat cavaque in palude recumbat:
(O Colonia, you who long for a long bridge and have to leap over what is provided, still you should stand in awe of your legs wobbling on the propped-up planks of a slanty little bridge, lest it fall headfirst and lie on its back in the empty bog:)

sic tibi bonus ex tua pons libidine fiat/in quo vel Salisubsali sacra suscipiantur/munus hoc mihi maximi da, Colonia, risus.
(So may the bridge prove sturdy from your own extension, or so that the sacred rites of the Leapers can be performed on you, grant me this gift, Colonia, of greatest laughter;)

quendam municipem meum de tuo volo ponte/ire praecipitem in lutum per caputque pedesque/verum totius ut lacus putidae paludis/lividissima maximeque est profunda vorago.
(I wish for a certain townsman of mine to fall from your bridge headfirst into the mud [head, feet, and all], where the swamp is the darkest of the whole lake and filthy bog and deepest by far;)

insulsissimus est homo, nec sapit pueri instar/bimuli tremula patris dormientis in ulna.
(He is such a stupid fellow, and he doesn't know the appearance of a boy from a two-year-old sleeping in the trembling arms of his father;)

cui cum sit viridissimo nupta flore puella/et puella tenellulo delicatior haedo/adservanda nigerrimis diligentius uvis/ludere hanc sinit ut lubet, nec pili facit uni/nec se sublevat ex sua parte, sed velut alnus/in fossa Liguri iacet suppernata securi/tantundem omnia sentiens quam si nulla sit usquam;
(And to this guy belongs a married girl of the sweetest flower, and a girl more delicate than the most tender youngling, one whom should be guarded more diligently than the blackest of grapes, but he allows her to frolick as she pleases, and he doesn't shed a hair from his head, and he doesn't jump out from his place, but instead he lies about like an alder tree, cut down by an axe in a Ligurian ditch, insofar as he understands everything as if nothing is even happening;)

talis iste meus stupor nil videt, nihil audit/ipse qui sit, utrum sit an non sit, id quoque nescit.
(My chap has the kind of ignorance where he sees nothing and hears nothing, and he doesn't even know who he himself is, or whether something is or not;)

nunc eum volo de tuo ponte mittere pronum/si pote stolidum repente excitare veternum/et supinum animum in gravi derelinquere caeno/ferream ut soleam tenaci in voragine mula.
(So now I wish for you to send him flying off your bridge onto his back, so as to maybe excite his stupid senility, and to make him leave his mind flattened down, stuck in the thick mud, like a she-ass would do to her iron horseshoe in a sticky bog.)