PHASELLUS ILLE QUEM VIDETIS, ... THE LITTLE BOAT YOU SEE BEFORE YOU ...
Catullus (Gaius Valerius Catullus) tr. David Lisle Crane
Phasellus ille quem videtis, hospites,
Ait fuisse navium celerimus,
Neque ullius natantis impetum trabis
Nequisse praeter ire, sive palmulis
Opus foret volare sive linteo.
Et hoc negat minacis Hadriatici
Negare litus insulasve Cycladas
Rhodumque nobilem horridamque Thraciam
Propontida, trucemve Ponticum sinum,
Ubi iste post phasellus antea fuit
Comata silva: nam Cytorio in jugo
Loquente saepe sibilum edidit coma.
Amastri Pontica et Cytore buxifer,
Tibi haec fuisse et esse cognitissima
Ait phasellus; ultima ex origine
Tuo stetisse dicit in cacumine,
Tuo imbuisse palmulas in aequore,
Et inde tot per impotentia freta
Erum tulisse, laeva sive dextera
Vocaret aura, sive utrumque Juppiter
Simul secundus incidisset in pedem;
Neque ulla vota litoralibus deis
Sibi esse facta, cum veniret a mari
Novissimo hunc ad usque limpidum lacum.
Sed haec prius fuere: nunc recondita
Senet quiete seque dedicat tibi,
Gemelle Castor et gemelle Castoris.
The little boat you see before you, friends,
Was once, she says, unbeatable for speed,
And nothing on the sea, she says, could catch her,
With oar or sail ...

The truth of this the stormy Adriatic
Could testify, the Cyclades, or Rhodes,
The Thracian or the savage Pontic sea,
Where she was first a tree ...

There too, on Cytorus, she felt the wind,
And boxwood slopes beside the Black Sea port
Would know that from her very birth she stood
Upon the topmost peak ...

Then first in those far waves she dipped her oars
And brought her master home through raging seas,
Tacking to right or left or running straight
Before the wind ...

No votive gifts for her to sea-shore gods,
Since she was safe from her first setting out
To cross the deep from furthest ocean's bounds
To this smooth pool ...

But all these things are past and she grows old,
And dreaming gently in these quiet streams
Returns her thanks for all that she has been
To the twin gods.

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Transl. Copyright © David Crane 2000 - publ. New Century Press


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