Catullus 5

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.