"Still Life with Fruit, Bird's Nest and Broken Egg" by George Forster‘Passer Mortuus Est’ from Carmen 3, by Catullus, Translated by R.W. Rhodes The Society December 5, 2021 Beauty, Poetry, Translation 4 Comments . Passer Mortuus Est, from Carmen 3 by Catullus (84-54 B.C.)| Translated from Latin by R.W. Rhodes My baby’s favored fledgling dropped and died,and caused us both to weep; and when we cried,each Venus and those naked putti pouted.The passing sparrow that had lately spoutedthrobbing songs that came and made it rise,delighted us as much as our own sighs.For it was honey-sweet and tasted freshas when I’d kiss my baby’s sweeter flesh.Nor did it move, when nested in my lap,but jumped—alive!—when woken from its nap.Now it shrinks along a gloomy track,and never will return or hasten back.My evil eye, enlarged with blackened ringsof hell, on you who shrivels lovely things:Was love this love that perished like the sparrow,so every night my bed is cold and narrow?No longer cherished, all I do is weepwith swollen eyes so red I can not sleep. . Original Latin Lūgēte, Ō Venerēs Cupīdinēsque,et quantum est hominum venustiōrum:passer mortuus est meae puellae,passer, dēliciae meae puellae,quem plūs illa oculīs suīs amābat.nam mellītus erat suamque nōratipsam tam bene quam puella mātrem,nec sēsē ā gremiō illīus movēbat,sed circumsiliēns modo hūc modo illūcad sōlam dominam ūsque pīpiābat.qui nunc it per iter tenebricōsumillūc, unde negant redīre quemquam.at vōbīs male sit, malae tenebraeOrcī, quae omnia bella dēvorātis:tam bellum mihi passerem abstulistisō factum male! ō miselle passer!tuā nunc operā meae puellaeflendō turgidulī rubent ocellī. . . R.W. Rhodes majored in Classics as an undergraduate and went on to obtain a Ph.D. in the Study of Religion at Harvard University. He taught for almost 40 years, and has a longstanding love for Latin poetry, especially the work of Catullus, Propertius, and Tibullus. NOTE TO READERS: If you enjoyed this poem or other content, please consider making a donation to the Society of Classical Poets. The Society of Classical Poets does not endorse any views expressed in individual poems or comments. CODEC News:Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window) 4 Responses Sally Cook December 5, 2021 Nothing much changes, does it? Thank yoiu for a graceful translation. Reply Margaret Coats December 5, 2021 Although this translation quite freely moves lines and images, not following the original author’s syntax, it nevertheless presents a fine characterization of Catullus, and a luscious, fresh English song about the incident of the sparrow’s death. It takes meticulous work to achieve the lyric beauty evident here! Reply Cheryl Corey December 6, 2021 Most, if not all, of our earlier poets (and statesmen) were well-versed in Latin, and too few are today. I regret that I never studied it myself, and I appreciate those who continue the classical tradition. Reply Paul Freeman December 6, 2021 I never cease to be impressed by such well written translations. Thanks for the read, RW. Reply Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYour email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. Δ This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.