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Saturday, February 14, 2015

Lost Love

I think Valentine's Day is a difficult holiday, especially for those who mourn the loss of someone they loved.  This poem comes from Catullus, a Roman neoteric poet who knew everyone who was anyone in Rome at the end of the republic. 

If there is any pleasure for a man in remembering former
good deeds, when he thinks himself to be dutiful,
nor to have violated a sacred trust, nor in any contract
of the gods abused divine power to deceive men,
much joy remains for you, Catullus, in this long life,
furnished from this thankless love.
For whatever man can either say or do well
for anyone, this has been said and done by you:
having been entrusted to an ungrateful heart, all that perished.
Therefore, why do you now suffer more?
Why not be obstinate in your mind and bring yourself back from thence
and cease to be unhappy in front of the unwilling gods.
It is difficult to set aside a longstanding love.
it is difficult, but let us do it at any hazard.
This is the only safety, and you must overcome this,
whether it is not possible or it is possible.
O gods, if it is your will to have pity,
or if you have ever brought your help to any already
at the extreme, in death itself, look upon my unhappiness and,
if I have lived life in a pure manner,
remove this plague and ruin from me,
which stealing upon me inmost as a lethargy in my limbs
expelled the happiness from all my heart.
I no longer ask for that, that she chooses me in return,
or, because it is not possible, she chooses to be chaste:
I wish that I myself be healthy and put aside this horrible disease.
O gods, give this back to me for my piety.

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