QUAERIS QUOT MIHI
BASIATIONES...
CURIOUS TO LEARN HOW MANY
KISSES...
Catullus (Gaius Valerius Catullus)tr. Peter Whigham
Quaeris, quot mihi basiationes


tuae, Lesbia, sint satis superque.


quam magnus numerus Libyssae harenae


lasarpiciferis iacet Cyrenis


oraclum Iovis inter aestuosi


et Batti veteris sacrum sepulcrum;


aut, quam sidera multa, cum tacet nox,


furtivos hominum vident amores;


tam te basia multa basiare


vesano satis et super Catullo est,


quae nec pernumerare curiosi


possint nec mala fascinare lingua.
Curious to learn
how many kiss-
-es of your lips
might satisfy
my lust for you,
Lesbia, know
as many as
are grains of sand
between the oracle
of sweltering Jove
at Ammon &
the tomb of old
Battiades the First,
in Libya
where the silphium grows;
alternatively,
as many as
the sky has stars
at night shining
in quiet upon
the furtive loves
of mortal men,
as many kiss
-es of your lips
as these might slake
your own obsessed
Catullus, dear,
so many that
no prying eye
can keep the count
nor spiteful tongue fix
their total in
a fatal formula.

Click here 1 for another translation of this poem.

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


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