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Catullus – Pining for Lesbia

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Vivamus, mea Lesbia, atque amemus,
rumoresque senum severiorum
omnes unius aestimemus assis!
soles occidere et redire possunt:
nobis cum semel occidit brevis lux
nox est perpetua una dormienda
da mi basia mille, deinde centum.
dein mille altera, dein secunda centum,
deinde usque altera mille, deinde centum.
dein, cum milia multa fecerimus,
conturbabimus illa, ne sciamus,
aut ne quis malus invidere possit,
cum tantum sciat esse basiorum.


My sweetest Lesbia, let us live and love;
And though the sager sort our deeds reprove,
Let us not weigh them. Heaven’s great lamps do dive
Into their west, and straight again revive,
But soon as once is set our little light,
Then must we sleep one ever-during night.

Gaius Valerius Catullus, Carmina v (ca. 60 BCE) in the Loeb Classical Library, vol. 6, pp. 6-8 (transl. T. Campion 1601)


Listen to Carl Orff’s magnificent setting of the Catulli Carmina (1942), with text drawn from roughly 20 of Catullus’s songs in the Lesbia cycle, including Carmina v.

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