Sparrow, the Special Delight of My Girl

Sparrow, the special delight of my girl, 
whom often she teases and holds on her lap 
and pokes with the tip of her finger, provoking 
counterattacks with your mordant beak, 
whenever my luminous love desires 
something or other, innocuous fun, 
a bit of escape, I suppose, from her pain, 
a moment of peace from her turbulent passion, 
I wish I could play like she does with you 
and lighten the cares of my sorrowful soul. 
It thrills me as much as the nimble girl 
in the story was thrilled by the gilded apple 
that finally uncinched her virginal gown.

More by Gaius Valerius Catullus

To me that man seems like a god in heaven (51)

To me that man seems like a god in heaven,
seems—may I say it?—greater than all gods are,
who sits by you & without interruption
	watches you, listens

to your light laughter, which casts such confusion
onto my senses, Lesbia, that when I 
gaze at you merely, all of my well-chosen
	words are forgotten

as my tongue thickens & a subtle fire
runs through my body while my ears deafened
by their own ringing & at once my eyes are
	covered in darkness!

Leisure, Catullus. More than just a nuisance,
leisure: you riot, overmuch enthusing.
Fabulous cities & their sometime kings have
	died of such leisure.

Him rival to the gods I place (51)

Him rival to the gods I place,
   Him loftier yet, if loftier be,
Who, Lesbia, sits before thy face,
   Who listens and who looks on thee;

Thee smiling soft. Yet this delight
   Doth all my sense consign to death;
For when thou dawnest on my sight,
   Ah, wretched! flits my labouring breath.

My tongue is palsied. Subtly hid
   Fire creeps me through from limb to limb:
My loud ears tingle all unbid:
   Twin clouds of night mine eyes bedim.

Ease is my plague: ease makes thee void,
   Catullus, with these vacant hours,
And wanton: ease that hath destroyed
   Great kings, and states with all their powers.

By ways remote and distant waters sped (101)

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 ta'en 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 drenched with a brother's tears, 
And, brother, for all time, hail and farewell!