Sunday, December 30, 2007

Norse’s Catullus

Harold Norse started translating Catullus (the old Latin poet) while in Rome. Norse’s versions from the 50s attempt to duplicate Catullus’ rhyme schemes. Norse’s versions from 20 years later, written in San Francisco, don’t bother. Here’s one of those:


Commendo tibi me ac meos amores

I am entrusting to you, Aurelius,
all I love most in the world, this boy, and beg
only a small favor, if you’ve ever valued
something beyond price, to be kept chaste and pure,
then guard this boy for me. I don’t mean from strangers;
it is not the man in the street I fear; he’s busy
about his own affairs. It’s you,
you and your big prick
lusting after boys, molesting good and bad alike.
When you’re outside you may waggle your erection
as much as you please at anyone you please, but spare this one,
it’s not much to ask, but if lust
runs away with you, if your dirty mind runs amuch
and you betray me and my lover, you’ll suffer,
I promise you, a terrible fate.
Before the whole town’s eyes, with your feet in chains,
I’ll shove radishes and mollets up your ass.

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