For a recent milestone birthday, Mr. Waite and I flew to Italy for ten days of food, wine, and historical geeking out. On the plane I realized I’d neglected to take even a scrap of Latin poetry with me — a shameful omission for an amateur classicist on her first visit to Rome.
Luckily, my Latin professor had always insisted we memorize at least one poem, so I had Catullus 5 available upon request from my brain. It is one of the most breathtakingly romantic poems in history. And because it was a very lengthy flight, I had time to work out the following rather loose translation into verse.
We’ll live my darling, and we’ll love,
And all those grim and senile sneers
We’ll hold a cheap accounting of.
The sun can set and reappear,
But us, we burn so brief and brave
That one day’s light is all we get
Before night tucks us in the grave.
Give me a thousand kisses, yet
Another hundred and again
A second thousand, and then add
The sum twice more, with tips. And when
We’ve kissed so much that we have had
To turn the counter back to none
Let’s keep the number hidden so
The haters hating down below
Can’t nullify a single one.