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miércoles, 6 de abril de 2011

Vivamos, Lesbia mía y amémosnos

Source (Excerpts)
Very little is objectively known of the life of Gaius Valerius Catullus. It is believed that he was born in Verona in 84 B.C. to a wealthy and well-connected family. Catullus' father was a friend of Julius Caesar. He died in Rome in 54 B.C. at the age of thirty. From his poems it is known that he went to Bithynia as an aide to the governor of that province in 57-56 B.C. We also know from Cicero that Catullus was one of the "neoteric" or new poets. Whereas the majority of poets in Rome at that time produced epic poems, often commissioned by aristocratic families, Catullus and other neoteric rejected the epic and its public themes. The neoteric poets used colloquial language to write about personal experience. Their poems are mostly smaller lyrics that are characterized by wit and erudition. Aside from these facts, what is known of the life of Catullus comes from the thoughts expressed in his poems.
The knowledge of Catullus' poems comes from a single manuscript that survived the Dark Ages. This manuscript was discovered in Verona in around 1305 and disappeared again at the end of the century. Two copies of it, however, were made and one survives in the Bodleian Library in Oxford. The other copy, which was believed to be owned by Petrarch, was also lost. The surviving copy contains 116 poems in three sections: sixty shorter poems written mostly in Greek lyric meters, primarily hendecasyllabic or eleven-syllable lines; eight long poems; and a set of short epigrams.
The shorter poems are often extremely playful and personal. Catullus speaks directly to his friends in a casual voice. For instance, the dedication poem begins with the lines "To whom am I giving my charming, new, little book / polished just now with the dry pumice stone? / Cornelius, to you: for you were the one / who thought this rubbish was something . . ." The short lyrics are often funny, and on occasion extremely crude. He also used these poems to explore the limits of friendship and love. He wrote twenty-five poems to a woman he named Lesbia, offering both erotic banter as well as heartbreak at her infidelity and their eventual breakup. English poets such as Ben Jonson and Christopher Marlowe wrote imitations of these poems, particularly poem five, which begins "Let us live, my Lesbia, and let us love."
Let Us Live and Love (5)
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 of five
Into their west, and straight again revive;
But, soon as once set is our little light,
Then must we sleep one ever-during night.

If all would lead their lives in love like me,
Then bloody swords and armor should not be;
No drum nor trumpet peaceful sleeps should move,
Unless alarm came from camp of love.
But fools do live and waster their little light,
And seek with pain their ever-during night.

When timely death my life and fortune ends,
Let not my hearse be vexed with mourning friends;
But let all lovers rich in triumph come,
And with sweet pastime grace my happy tomb.
And, Lesbia, close up thou my little light,
And crown with love by ever-during night. 

Viuamus, mea Lesbia, atque amemus, 
rumoresque senum seueriorum 
omnes unius aestimemus assis. 
Soles occidere et redire possunt: 
nobis, cum semel occidit breuis 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 nequis malus inuidere possit, 
cum tantum sciat esse basiorum. 

Vivamos, Lesbia mía y amémosnos, 
hagamos caso omiso a todas las 
habladurías de los ancianos 
en exceso escrupulosos. 
Los astros pueden ocultarse y reaparecer, 
pero nosotros tendremos que dormir en noche 
perpetua tan pronto como se apague 
la breve llama de nuestra vida. 
Dame mil besos y después cien, 
otros mil luego, luego otros cien. 
Empieza de nuevo hasta llegar 
a otros mil y a otros cien. 

Después, cuando hayamos acumulado muchos miles, 
los revolveremos todos para perder la cuenta o para que 
ningún malvado envidioso sea capaz de embrujarnos 
cuando sepa que nos hemos dado tantos besos.  

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