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A Poet's Journal: February 4th, 2014

February 4th, 2014

It is in our nature to fashion understanding after intellect; from the first breath of consciousness it has been said that man is the thinking animal and whether we agree or not, the tradition with which our thoughts move is to place one object up against another, or one thought or memory up against another, and proceed through reasoning or logic to come up with a strategy that will invariably prove or not prove that one is better or worse than the other.  We place upon the scale of importance efficiency and fact, and hold with words those ideas and matters of thought that have not yet been fully understood.  To speak, or more generally, to use the senses, is our way to enlighten understanding, whereupon it is only those things that are left unsaid, or that have yet been revealed, that the intellect truly understands.  By the concept and definition of a word, we give boundary, by which is meant exclusion, so that the objective reality that we come to take as truth w…

A New Translation of Catullus!


Here is a new translation of Catullus: please scroll down to read or visit the Society of Classical Poets by clicking on the following link: A Translation of Catullus’s ‘Ad Sirmium Insulam’ by Douglas Thornton

The important events in the life of Gaius Valerius Catullus (84-54 B.C.) are recounted through the poems he has left.  The particular poem below was written on his return from Asia Minor, where he had attempted at a public career by following Memmius, the patron of the poet Lucretius, into the province of Bithynia.  But his hopes being dashed, he took refuge after the long journey at his home in the present-day village of Sirmione, in northern Italy, on Lake Garda.


Ad Sirmium Insulam

Of the islands which in stagnant
Waters and vast seas Neptune holds,
Sirmio--the pearl of islands!--
Now my heart with you rejoices
Safe and sound, still scarce believing
Thynia and Bithynian
Fields have gone.  What more fortunate
Care, after so many struggles,
When the mind shrugs off its burden,
Drained by foreign toil, than come
Unto our hearth and find comfort
In our longed-for bed!  Thus hello,
Charming Sirmio, whom I joy
Enjoying; and you, rippling lake
Of Lydian wave surrounding
My home, drown out all other noise.

Douglas Thornton



Ad Sirmium Insulam

Paene insularum, Sirmio, insularumque
Ocelle, quascumque in liquentibus stagnis
Marique vasto fert uterque Neptunus,
Quam te libenter quamque laetus inviso,
Vix mi ipse credens Thuniam atque Bithunos
Liquisse campos et videre te in tuto.
O quid solutis est beatius curis,
Cum mens onus reponit, ac peregrino
Labore fessi venimus larem ad nostrum,
Desideratoque acquiescimus lecto?
Hoc est quod unum est pro laboribus tantis.
Salve, O venusta Sirmio, atque ero gaude
Gaudente, vosque, O Lydiae lacus undae,
Ridete quidquid est domi cachinnorum.

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The Wintering-Ground by Douglas Thornton


The Wintering-Ground

Within what hut,
My woodland maid,
May I remain awhile?
Next what fire may my chills
Be warmed? Be there
A path that leads
Past stony piles and tells
Us not to walk alone?

I do not think,
My woodland maid,
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