Tag Archives: catullus

Poem of the Week #5: Catullus 13

Sometimes, I’m just in the mood for Catullus, especially after the effusive lyricism of Neruda. Acid tongued, obscene, pithy and brilliantly witty, his poetry is over two thousand years old but is still startlingly fresh. Beneath the crudity there is a hearty love of simple pleasures; women, wine, poetry, love, and friendship. They happen to be pleasures that coincide with my own at this point in time. Here is one of his best…

13

I shall expect
you in to dine
a few days hence
Fabullus mine,
and we’ll eat well
enough, my friend,
if you provide
the food and wine
and the girl, too,
pretty and willing.
I, Catullus,
promise you
wine and wit and
all the laughter
of the table
should you provide
whatever food
or wine you’re able.
For, charmed Fabullus,
your old friend’s purse
is empty now
of all but cobwebs!

In return, the
distillation
of Love’s essence
take from me, or
whatever’s more
attractive or
seductive than
Love’s essence. For
Venus and her
Cupids gave my
girl an unguent,
this I’ll give to
you, Fabullus, and
when you’ve smelt it
all you want the
gods to do is
make you one
gigantic nose
to smell it, always, with.

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