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Main  ::  Translations - all  ::  Carmen 2 in English (Carmen 2)

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AuthorMessage
Guest
Posted on Mon Nov 08, 2004 14:47:39  
When I read the English translation for Carmen 2, I was pretty surprised at the liberties that the author (Jeff) took with the translation, some to the point that the meaning was completely changed. Here is my suggestion for a completely revamped translation:

"Sparrow, delight of my girl,
with whom she is used to playing, whom she is used to holding in her lap,
to whose eager attacks she is used to giving her forefinger, and inciting sharp bites.
When it is pleasing to the radient object of my desire to make some dear joke,
and it is some solace for her pain,
I believe that her passionate fire may settle then:
If only I could play with you as she does and ease the sad cares of her mind!"

Note that I used "lap" and not "breast" as suggested in this post. I believe that Catullus did not use the word "gremium" for a very specific reason: the double entrendres and sexual imagery seem pretty obvious, especially in the first several lines of the poem. The word sinus works well as "lap" but also has the double meaning of "fold" or "crevice," and I'm sure you can figure out what I'm getting at.

Also, the poem uses another ambiguity that is not translatable into English. Lines 5-6 can be translated as above ("When it is pleasing to the radient object of my desire to make some joke"), but it can also be translated as "When it is pleasing to make some joke about my radiating desire [for you]", i.e. that she's making a joke about HIM, which would also make sense given Lesbia and his relationship.
K.C.
Posted at Fri Dec 10, 2004 22:11:31  Quote
An interesting opinion.
Fordyce's commentary seems to suggest that the passer is a passer, a type of bird that is tamed and quite friendly.
Of course, the true! identity of the sparrow has been discussed and conjectured, and it is more than possible that it was indeed a real bird, but also meant something else as well. If you take the last two lines, and then join it up with Carmen 2b (reading posse for possum, from memory), it seems he is rejoicing in Lesbia's joy, but lamenting his own rejection and loneliness.
If you choose to read sexual imagery into every single one of Catullus' poems (and I dont necessary blame you), its important to keep it as an allusion in the translation, otherwise you'll annoy people when you read it to them! One must say Catullus had a skill when it came to subtlety as well as slander.
Non cogito ergo non sumus.
Silarius
Posted at Fri Apr 15, 2005 04:05:01  Quote
I tried "cup in her lap" for "in sinu tenere".

Sparrow, my girls delight,
with whom shes wont to play, to cup in her lap,
the assailant to whom she gives her finger
and urges sharp bites,
when with my sleek object of desire
I do not know which dear thing is fit to joke about
as a little solace for the pain,
then I accept that a burdensome love may quiet:
I would have been able to play with you so
and lighten sad cares of the heart!
Brendan
Posted at Tue Nov 01, 2005 19:50:32  Quote
The reference is almost entirely phallic. If you read closely, then it becomes easy to see that Catullus was relating the sparrow to a personal part of his body. It then makes sense to reference it "playing" by her breast. If you want a strict translation, either way will work. If you intend to create a translation which has no phallic reference at all and believes that Catullus was inherently clean and friendly, then the use of "lap" would probably be preferred.
semper ubi sub ubi
Guest
Posted at Fri Sep 29, 2006 00:14:54  Quote
So where does the word nescio fit into this translation....?
Guest
Posted at Thu Mar 15, 2007 02:49:52  Quote
haha i like brendans comment
Chris Weimer
Posted at Fri Mar 16, 2007 07:20:24  Quote
Quote:
  So where does the word nescio fit into this translation....?

Joannes translated "nescio quid" as "some kind of". The phrase is sometimes used in English. "to make I don't know what kind of joke."
KJCLbabe
Posted at Mon Apr 30, 2007 02:16:15  Quote
Quote:
  The reference is almost entirely phallic. If you read closely, then it becomes easy to see that Catullus was relating the sparrow to a personal part of his body. It then makes sense to reference it "playing" by her breast. If you want a strict translation, either way will work. If you intend to create a translation which has no phallic reference at all and believes that Catullus was inherently clean and friendly, then the use of "lap" would probably be preferred.

Saying that she is accustomed to hold the "passer" in the fold of her lap is also a phallic reference... and probably a more correct one.

me
Vivamus atque Amemus.
jrm36
Posted at Tue Apr 29, 2008 19:11:14  Quote
Isn't the bird her sexual organ rather than his? He notes that she soothes her own cares and passions by playing with the bird and allowing it to bite her finger, and he wishes that he could be the one to lift her spirits by playing with the bird.
Kate Rogers
Posted at Tue Oct 14, 2008 07:02:10  Quote
I feel like many of the translations of Carmen 2 that I have seen here are confusing the poem's primary message.

Here is how I broke it all down:

ll. 1-4 are a direct address to the sparrow, describing how the sparrow used to play with Catullus' girlfriend/lover.
ll. 5-7 are Catullus' lament that he can't tell his lover a joke to make her happy or find any other way to console her because he isn't like her beloved dead sparrow. For this reason Catullus is frustrated in his attempts to make love by the grief his grilfriend feels about the sparrow.
l. 8 introduces Catullus' private thoughts to the sparrow
ll. 9-10 Catullus describes to the sparrow how whenever he is unable to console his lover, he thinks about how he wishes he could "play" with the sparrow *winkwink* like she used to (i.e. he got in her lap -you figure it out).

I tried to make my interpretation a bit more clear with punctuation. It is a bit of a free translation, but I hope this helps anyone who wants a translation that actually makes some sense in English:

Sparrow, precious pet of my girl,
with whom she was accustomed to play, whom she was accustomed to hold upon her lap,
and to whom, seeking hungrily, she often would give her fingertip,
provoking sharp bites –
When to the shining object of my desire
I know not what pleasing and dear joke to tell
or what solace to offer for her anguish,
then I think, so that my heavy passion might subside:
“Oh that I were able to play with you in same way she did,
and to lighten these sad worries in my spirit.”
Guest
Posted at Sat Oct 18, 2008 22:24:13  Quote
Sorry, but I do think that the new translation is also incorrect. The words “cum desiderio meo” do not mean ” the object of my desire”. They mean that the author likes that the sparrow bites the finger of his his sweetheart because he thinks that this is a proof of her love for him. They just mean the approval of the behavior of the sparrow.

In this sense the word "desiderio" is used also in a poem by Horace (O navis referent… ).

Yours sincerely

Olga (Moscow, Russia)

 


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