miser Catulle, desinas ineptire,
et quod vides perisse perditum ducas.
fulsere quondam candidi tibi soles
cum ventitabas quo puella ducebat
amata nobis quantum amabitur nulla.
ibi illa multa cum iocosa fiebant
quae tu volebas nec puella nolebat,
fulsere vere candidi tibi soles.
nunc iam illa non vult; tu quoque, impotens, noli,
nec quae fugit sectare nec miser vive,
sed obstinate mente perfer, obdura.
vale puella. iam Catullus obdurat
nec te requiret nec rogavit invitam.
at tu dolebis cum rogaberis nulla.
scelesta, vae te, quae tibi manet vita?
quis nunc te adibit? cui videberis bella?
quem nunc amabis? cuius esse diceris?
quem basiabis? cui labella mordebis?
at tu, Catulle, destinatus obdura.
Wretched Catullus, stop playing the fool,
and what you see is lost, consider lost.
At one time the sun shone brilliantly for you,
when you kept following where a girl was leading,
a girl loved by us as no girl will be.
There when those many joyful things happened,
which you wanted, nor was the girl unwilling,
the sun shone brilliantly for you indeed.
Now she no longer wants it; you too, powerless, be unwilling
and do not pursue she who flees, nor live wretched,
but maintain a stubborn mine, endure.
Goodbye girl. Now Catullus endures
and will not seek or ask of you, unwilling.
But you will be sorry when you asked out by nobody.
Alas for you, what life remains to you, wicked woman?
Who now will you go to? To who will you seem beautiful?
Who now will you love? Whose will you say you are?
Who will you kiss? Whose lips will you bite?
But you Catullus, determined, stand fast.
The other part of the poem which I like an awful lot is its cyclical nature. The poem both starts and ends with a direct address to Catullus, which ties the two ends together and shows how the thoughts and ideas contained within the poem repeat themselves. Even more cleverly, there is also ring composition within this ring composition. The passage recalling the past starts with the phrase 'fulsere quondam candidi tibi soles' ('once the sun shone brightly for you') and ends with a very similar one, 'fulsere vere candidi tibi soles' ('the sun truly shone brightly for you'). The careful choice of words indicates that what was simply Catullus imagining the moment has become Catullus reliving it, and unable to break the cycle. And although the narrating Catullus reminds himself to be firm, the poem progresses to the rhetorical questions I mentioned earlier, which reinforces the idea of a cycle of thoughts, as Catullus has returned to the same position as he was at the end of the smaller ring composition. I think that's rather wonderful, how Catullus (the poet) has used the poem's structure itself to represent the ideas contained within it, and that's why I love it so much.
And on that note, I shall conclude my ramblings about Catullus' Poem XIII. If that's not enough Catulli to thoroughly confuse all of you, then I have no idea what will be. I'm hoping that I'll be able to make my next post with a little less of an interval, as I break for Easter holidays in two weeks time. Until next time though, many thanks for reading, and valete!