The Carmina of Caius Valerius Catullus, by Catullus

xvii.

O Colonia, quae cupis ponte ludere longo,

Et salire paratum habes, sed vereris inepta

Crura ponticuli assulis stantis in redivivis,

Ne supinus eat cavaque in palude recumbat;

Sic tibi bonus ex tua pons libidine fiat, 5

In quo vel Salisubsili 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 10

Lividissima maximeque est profunda vorago.

Insulsissimus est homo, nec sapit pueri instar

Bimuli tremula patris dormientis in ulna.

Quoi cum sit viridissimo nupta flore puella

(Et puella tenellulo delicatior haedo, 15

Adservanda nigerrimis diligentius uvis),

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, 20

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, 25

Ferream ut soleam tenaci in voragine mula.

xvii.

Of a “Predestined” Husband.

Colony! fain to display thy games on length of thy town-bridge!

There, too, ready to dance, though fearing the shaking of crazy

Logs of the Bridgelet propt on pier-piles newly renewèd,

Lest supine all sink deep-merged in the marish’s hollow,

So may the bridge hold good when builded after thy pleasure 5

Where Salisúbulus’ rites with solemn function are sacred,

As thou (Colony!) grant me boon of mightiest laughter.

Certain a townsman mine I’d lief see thrown from thy gangway

Hurlèd head over heels precipitous whelmed in the quagmire,

Where the lake and the boglands are most rotten and stinking, 10

Deepest and lividest lie, the swallow of hollow voracious.

Witless surely the wight whose sense is less than of boy-babe

Two-year-old and a-sleep on trembling forearm of father.

He though wedded to girl in greenest bloom of her youth-tide,

(Bride-wife daintier bred than ever was delicate kidlet, 15

Worthier diligent watch than grape-bunch blackest and ripest)

Suffers her sport as she please nor rates her even at hair’s worth,

Nowise ‘stirring himself, but lying log-like as alder

Felled and o’er floating the fosse of safe Ligurian woodsman,

Feeling withal, as though such spouse he never had own’d; 20

So this marvel o’ mine sees naught, and nothing can hear he,

What he himself, an he be or not be, wholly unknowing.

Now would I willingly pitch such wight head first fro’ thy bridge,

Better a-sudden t’arouse that numskull’s stolid old senses,

Or in the sluggish mud his soul supine to deposit 25

Even as she-mule casts iron shoe where quagmire is stiffest.

O Colonia, that longest to disport thyself on a long bridge and art prepared for the dance, but that fearest the trembling legs of the bridgelet builded on reused shavings, lest supine it may lie stretched in the hollow swamp; may a good bridge take its place designed to thy fancy, on which e’en the Salian dances may be sustained: for the which grant to me, Colonia, greatest of gifts glee-exciting. Such an one, townsman of mine, I want from thy bridge to be pitched in the sludge head over heels, right where the lake of all its stinking slime is dankest and most superfluent — a deep-sunk abyss. The man is a gaping gaby! lacking the sense of a two-years-old baby dozing on its father’s cradling arm. Although to him is wedded a girl flushed with springtide’s bloom (and a girl more dainty than a tender kid, meet to be watched with keener diligence than the lush-black grape-bunch), he leaves her to sport at her list, cares not a single hair, nor bestirs himself with marital office, but lies as an alder felled by Ligurian hatchet in a ditch, as sentient of everything as though no woman were at his side. Such is my booby! he sees not, he hears naught. Who himself is, or whether he be or be not, he also knows not. Now I wish to chuck him head first from thy bridge, so as to suddenly rouse (if possible) this droning dullard and to leave behind in the sticky slush his sluggish spirit, as a mule casts its iron shoe in the tenacious slough.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/c/catullus/carmina/poem17.html

Last updated Saturday, March 1, 2014 at 20:37