Catullus (Gaius Valerius Catullus)tr. A. S. Kline
O Colonia, quae cupis ponte ludere longo,
et salire paratum habes, sed vereris inepta
crura ponticuli axulis stantis in redivivis,
ne supinus eat cavaque in palude recumbat:
sic tibi bonus ex tua pons libidine fiat,
in quo vel Salisubsali sacra suscipiantur,
munus hoc mihi maximi da, Colonia, risus.
Quendam municipem meum de tuo volo ponte
ire praecipitem in lutum per caputque pedesque,
verum totius ut lacus putidaeque paludis
lividissima maximeque est profunda vorago.
Insulsissimus est homo, nec sapit pueri instar
bimuli tremula patris dormientis in ulna.
cui cum sit viridissimo nupta flore puella
et puella tenellulo delicatior haedo,
adseruanda nigerrimis diligentius vuis,
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;
talis iste meus stupor nil videt, nihil audit,
ipse qui sit, utrum sit an non sit, id quoque nescit.
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.
O Cologna, who want a long bridge to sport on,
and are ready to dance, though you fear
the useless bridge-props with their
much-patched standing timber,
lest they tumble and lie in deep mud:
let a good bridge be made for you as you desire
where even leap-frogging priests are safe: but
Cologna, give me that greatest gift, a good laugh.
I want a fellow-citizen of mine to go head over heels
straight into the deep mire from your bridge,
since truly the whole pool and the putrid marsh
is the blackest and deepest of chasms.
The manís totally dull, knows no more than
a two-year-old child, asleep in its fatherís trembling arms.
Who, though heís married a girl in her first flowering,
a girl more delicate than a pretty little kid,
needing to be tended more carefully than choicest grapes,
letís her play as she wishes, doesnít care a fig,
hasnít risen to the occasion, but like an alder
in a Ligurian ditch, crippled by the axe,
feels as much of it all as if there were no woman there:
Such is his stupor he doesnít see, or hear me, he,
who doesnít know who he is, or whether he is or not.
Now I want to toss him headlong from your bridge,
if itís possible suddenly to raise that stupefied dullness,
and abandon that indolent mind in the heavy bog,
as mules cast shoes into tenacious depths.

Transl. Copyright © A. S. Kline 2003

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