ADESTE HENDECASYLLABI...FROM THE QUARTERS OF THE COMPASS...
Catullus (Gaius Valerius Catullus)tr. Peter Whigham
adeste hendecasyllabi. quot estis
omnes. undique quotquot estis omnes.
iocum me putat esse moecha turpis.
et negat mihi nostra reddituram
pugillaria si pati potestis.
persequamur eam. et reflagitemus.
quae sit quaeritis. illa quam uidetis
turpe incedere mimice ac moleste
ridentem catuli ore Gallicani.
circumsistite eam. et reflagitate.
moecha putida. redde codicillos.
redde putida moecha codicillos.
non assis facis. o lutum. lupanar,
aut si perditius potest quid esse.
sed non est tamen hoc satis putandum
quod si non aliud potest ruborem
ferreo canis exprimamus ore.
conclamate iterum altiore uoce.
moecha putida. redde codicillos.
redde putida moecha codicillos.
sed nil proficimus. nihil mouetur
mutanda est ratio modusque uobis
siquid proficere amplius potestis,
pudica et proba. redde codicillos.
From the quarters of the compass gather round Catullus
indelicate syllables as many as you are,
a slippery whore has caught Catullus by the hairs.
She won't give me my pocket book back.
Come with Catullus follow her along the sidewalk
accost her on her beat insist she gives it back.
You ask, "Which one is yours?" The one parading in front
like a stage tart grinning like a French poodle.
Surround the little bitch insist she gives it back:
"My pocket book unwholesome whore
unwholesome whore my pocket book."
She looks the other way. "O tart of turpitude! O brothel lees!"
The brazen-faced bitch does not blush.
Approach again repeat in even louder tones:
"My pocket book unwholesome whore
unwholesome whore my pocket book."
We make no visible impression. The girl is totally unmoved.
Indelicate syllables to get our pocket book
we must adopt a change of front
we must adopt new tactics thus:
"Intact young lady and of nubile rectitude
would you be so kind as
to give me back my pocket book?"

Click here 1 for another translation of this poem.

Transl. Copyright © Peter Whigham, 1966 - publ. Penguin Classics


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