ETSI ME ASSIDUO CONFECTUM
CURA DOLORE ...
I'M WORN WITH INCESSANT GRIEF,
HORTALUS ...
Catullus (Gaius Valerius Catullus) tr. Humphrey Clucas
Etsi me assiduo confectum cura dolore
sevocat a doctis, Ortale, virginibus,
nec potis est dulcis Musarum expromerefetus
mens animi, tantis fluctuat ipsa malis -
namque mei nuper Lethaeo in gurgite fratris
pallidulum manans alluit unda pedem,
Troia Rhoeteo quem subter litore tellus
ereptum nostris obterit ex oculis ...


numquam ego te, vita frater amabilior,
aspiciam posthac? at certe semper amabo,
semper maesta tua carmina morte canam,
qualia sub densis ramorum concinit umbris
Daulias, absumpti fata gemens Ityli -
sed tamen in tantis maeroribus, Ortale, mitto
haec expressa tibi carmina Battiadae,
ne tua dicta vagis nequiquam credita ventis
effluxisse meo forte putes animo,
ut missum sponsi furtivo munere malum
procurrit casto virginis e gremio,
quod miserae oblitae molli sub veste locatum,
dum adventu matris prosilit, excutitur,
atque illud prono praeceps agitur decursu,
huic manat tristi conscius ore rubor.
I'm worn with incessant grief, Hortalus;
It's keeping me and my muse apart.
I've no mind for my writing, tossed
On such difficult waves. The Lethean flood
Laps at my brother's pale feet;
The Trojan earth lies heavily on him
Under Rhoeteum's shore. He's gone.

I'll never talk to you now, nor hear
Your voice; I'll not see you again,
My brother - dearer than life. Surely
I'll love you for ever, make songs
For your death, as under the branches' shade
The swallow Procne sang of the fate
Of lost Itylus. But in my grief,
Hortalus, I've sent you these verses -
My own, versions of Callimachus -
So that you wouldn't think your words
Blown on the wind, forgotten. Like
An apple, sent as a secret gift
To a young man's first love, tumbling
Out of her chaste bosom - poor girl,
She pushed it into a dress's fold
And forgot it there; her mother comes,
She starts, and it shakes free. Look:
Swiftly it runs along, away -
And a blush spreads over her rueful cheek.

Click here 2 for another translation of this poem.

Transl. Copyright © Humphrey Clucas 1985 - publ. Agenda Editions & Hippopotamus Press


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