Rupert Mercer, 3rd Prize (18-and-under)


Miser Catulle, desinas ineptire,
et quod vides perisse perditum ducas.
Fulsere quondam candidi tibi soles,
cum ventitabas quo puella ducebat
amata nobis quantum amabitur nulla;
ibi illa multa cum iocosa fiebant,
quae tu volebas nec puella nolebat,
fulsere vere candidi tibi soles.
Nunc iam illa non volt; tu quoque impotens noli,
nec quae fugit sectare, nec miser vive,
sed obstinata mente perfer, obdura.
Vale, puella. Iam Catullus obdurat,
nec to requiret nec rogabit invitam.
At tu dolebis, cum rogaberis nulla.
Scelesta, vae te, quae tibi manet vita?
Quis nunc te adibit? Cui videberis bella?
Quem nunc amabis? Cuius esse diceris?
Quem basiabis? Cui labella mordebis?
At tu, Catulle, destinatus obdura.


Pack it in, Catullus, stop beating yourself up.
It’s over – forget it.
Only a few weeks ago, you thought it was all perfect
And you loved her like no one had ever been loved before.
But she led you on and you just couldn’t see it.
It was all sex and sweet nothings
When she gave you exactly what you wanted.
Yes, it was bliss.

But she’s a woman.
And now she’s gone off the boil.
Play her at her own game and stop hoping, stop wishing
That the clock can be turned back.
So get the hell out of my life, I’ll chase you no more:
I don’t want to sniff after you like a dog.

But just you wait.
It’ll all go wrong for you, you whore.
When you lose your looks, what will be left to you?
Who’ll chase you then? Who’ll admire you?
Love you and be loved by you?
Who will you coil yourself around then?

Stop it, Catullus!
Put it behind you, move on.

Translated from the Latin by Rupert Mercer
  [Commentary on the poem by the translator]   

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