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Phasellus, a closer (and metrical) translation

June 6, 2012
Catullus 4. In English Iambs. Tetrameter.
Phasellus ille, quem videtis, hospites,             My friends, this little boat can boast
ait fuisse navium celerrimus,                              He was the swiftest ship at sea!
neque ullius natantis impetum trabis                No rush of any swimming beam
nequisse praeterire, sive palmulis                      Could catch him, not with oar-palms’ flight,
opus foret volare sive linteo.                              Not riding winds with linen sail!
et hoc negat minacis Hadriatici                           No threat’ning Adriatic shore
negare litus insulasve Cycladas                         (He says) denies it, noble Rhodes 
Rhodumque nobilem horridamque Thraciam    Nor Cyclades, nor bristling Thrace’
Propontida trucemve Ponticum sinum               Propontis, nor that Pontis’ gulf
(ubi iste post phasellus antea fuit                      Where (later boat) he used to be
comata silva–nam Cytorio in iugo                     A long-hair’d wood: wind-hissing leaves
loquente saepe sibilum edidit coma).                With echoes filled Cytorus’ ridge!

Amastri Pontica et Cytore buxifer,                      Box-grown Cytorus, Pontic port,
tibi haec fuisse et esse cognitissima                   You saw and still remember this 
ait phasellus; ultima ex origine                            (He says): how once upon your peak 
tuo stetisse dicit in cacumine,                              A newborn sapling stood up tall;
tuo imbuisse palmulas in aequore,                      How oar-palms splashed your waves.
et inde tot per impotentia freta                             From there through many wild straits
erum tulisse, laeva sive dextera                           He bore his lord, while winds to port
vocaret aura, sive utrumque Iuppiter                   Or starboard called, or Jupiter’s 
simul secundus incidisset in pedem;                   Good will the sail’s both corners filled!  
neque ulla vota litoralibus diis                             He made no servile vow, says he, 
sibi esse facta, cum veniret a mari                        To any shore-gods, when he came
novissimo hunc ad usque limpidum lacum.       From far seas up to this pure lake. 

sed haec prius fuere: nunc recondita                   These things are past: retired now,
senet quiete seque dedicat tibi,                            He, aging softly, vows himself
gemelle Castor et gemelle Castoris.                    To you, twin Castor, and your twin.
One Comment leave one →
  1. Cerfer permalink
    August 20, 2012 12:14 pm

    Well done! My apologies for taking so long to notice/comment; I bricked my tablet for a while & lost all my RSS feeds.

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