Friday, July 31, 2009

Poetry: De Inferiis Ad Fratris Tumulum - Catullus

In this week's installment of my Friday Poetry series I go back over 2000 years to the Roman poet Catullus. I provide the original and a translation.

De Inferiis Ad Fratris Tumulum
Caius Valerius Catullus (84? B.C.–54? B.C.)

MVLTAS per gentis et multa per aequora uectus
aduenio has miseras, frater, ad inferias:
ut te postremo donarem munere mortis
et mutam nequiquam alloquerer cinerem.
quandoquidem fortuna mihi tete abstulit ipsum,
heu miser indigne frater adempte mihi,
nunc tamen interea haec prisco quae more parentum
tradita sunt tristi munere ad inferias,
accipe fraterno multum manantia fletu,
atque in perpetuum, frater, aue atque uale.

On the Burial of his Brother

By ways remote and distant waters sped,
Brother, to thy sad grave-side am I come,
That I may give the last gifts to the dead,
And vainly parley with thine ashes dumb:
Since she who now bestows and now denies
Hath taken thee, hapless brother, from mine eyes.
But lo! these gifts, the heirlooms of past years,
Are made sad things to grace thy coffin shell,
Take them, all drench├Ęd with a brother’s tears,
And, brother, for all time, hail and farewell!

Source: Aubrey Vincent Beardsley (1872-1898)

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