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The Times Stephen Spender Prize 2010

14-and-under, commended

Read the judges’ comments
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Sam Peters

‘Poem 27’
by Catullus

Get over here, waiter,
Bring me your best vintage,
The strongest you have.
Postumia wants strength,
So Postumia shall have a hangover.
Water to wine, is like poison to a rat.
God’s people do agree,
This is truly not just any wine.
This is M&S wine.

Translated from the Latin by Sam Peters

Poem 27

Minister uetuli puer Falerni
inger mi calices amariores,
ut lex Postumiae iubet magistrae
ebrioso acino ebriosioris.
at uos quo lubet hinc abite, lymphae
uini pernicies, et ad seueros
migrate. hic merus est Thyonianus.


Translation commentary

I chose this poem for two reasons. The first is that I thought that I could modernise this poem well. The second is that I thought it provided a good challenge for my almost non-existent Latin abilities. This poem was quite difficult to modernise at times, because there were quite a few unfamiliar names such as Postumia, Falernian and Thyonian. I later found out that these were actually quite common things. Postumia is merely a woman who wishes to pick the wine’s strength. Falernian is a type of wine and Thyonian is a God of wine. I had difficulty modernising the line 'Take up abode with scrupulous folk'. It was very confusing to me as to who the poem was referring to and how I was supposed to modernise a poem that refers to ancient Romans. I found a way around this by calling them God’s people. I really enjoyed translating this poem, because it gave me something to do in my spare time.

Sam Peters