Let us live, my Lesbia, and let us love,
and let us value all the mutterings
of stern old men at a single penny.
For suns it's possible to set and rise
again; our light is short. Once it sets
we're forced to sleep one neverending night.
Give me a thousand kisses, then a hundred,
then another thousand, then a second hundred,
then yet another thousand, then a hundred,
then, after we have finished several thousands,
we'll mix them up again to keep ourselves
from knowing and to keep the envious
from bearing us a grudge once they find out
the number of our kisses.
Furius and Aurelius, you would accompany
Catullus anywhere he went: to the other side
of India, where the distant breakers roar
beating the eastern shore,
to the Caspian or decadent Arabia,
to the Sacians and the arrowshooting Parthians,
or to the flat land the seven branches
of the Nile tint and hue;
even if he crossed the lofty Alps
to tour the monuments of mighty Caesar,
the French Rhine, and the bleak north sea
as far as Britain,
you'd be ready to approach in tandem absolutely
anything heaven might want to throw
our way; so bring my girl this message,
a short one and no fun:
let her stay with, enjoy herself with all the adulterers
she holds in her embrace, three hundred at a time,
not one of them a true love, just balls to bust
over and over again.
No need to pay my love the heed she once did;
it was her fault that it collapsed, fell
like a flower at the meadow's edge clipped
by the passing plow.
Yesterday, Licinius, while we were free
we played a lengthy game in my notebooks
since we'd agreed to act like slackers.
The game: each of us wrote down short poems
in various meters, in style a or style b,
trading compositions over jokes and drinks.
I left there so excited by your wit
and sensibility that food no longer
did me any good, nor would sleep drape
my eyes in stillness; poor me, tossing and turning
on my bed like an unchained lunatic
longing for daylight so that I could talk
to you and be with you again. The struggle
wore me out; after my body lay in bed
half-dead a while, I wrote this poem for you,
my friend, to make you understand my pain.
Now watch out: don't be cruel, please don't spit
on my requests, lest Karma take revenge
on you, my dear one. The goddess is
a real bitch: take care you don't insult her.
Don't be surprised, Rufus, if women are
unwilling to place their soft thighs beneath you,
even when you wear them down with gifts
of finest cloth or choice, transparent stones.
You're being undercut by a malicious rumor
which maintains that a vengeful goat dwells
in the gulley of your armpits. Naturally
everyone is afraid of it, since it's a nasty animal;
beautiful girls won't share a bed with it.
So either slay the beast that pesters noses
or give up wondering why they run away.