Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Two Poem Drafts

The Catullus is not a great translation, but one with a particular purpose; Catullus is doing a number of interesting things with idea-rhyme in the poem (the repeated self-exhortation to endure, the repeated ending of a line on a negative, etc.), and I wanted a version that took that seriously, even if it sacrificed other things.

Sky and Sea

Freedom is a joy
like a sky blue and clear,
nothing to restrain,
no boundaries to fear,

but in the sky none can drown.
At times we tumble down

to where freedom is a sorrow
like a sea on every side,
no land to the horizon,
no place to flee or hide,

water, water, wave upon wave,
no boat to help, no hand to save.

Catullus 8

Wretched Catullus, cease being a fool;
what you see as lost, as lost take.
Once there shone for you white suns,
as you went where the girl took,
one loved so that loved more will be none,
where those many foolings were done
that you willed and she did not nill,
truly there shone for you white suns.
Now she wills not, you, powerless, want not;
follow not she who flees, nor wretchedly live,
but carry on with resolute mind, hold out.
Farewell, girl, now Catullus holds out!
He needs you not, nor asks you out unwilling,
but you will grieve -- who asks you out? Nobody.
Villainous girl, woe to you, what life is left you?
Who will visit you now? Who will see you as pretty?
Whom will you love now? With whom will you be?
Whom will you kiss? Whose lips will you press?
But you, Catullus, firmly hold out.

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