Aesthetic Realism Online Library Poetry


Mourn This Sparrow, By Gaius Valerius Catullus
                                                      Translation by Eli Siegel 

Mourn, O Graces and Loves,
And those men who are of the Graces:
The sparrow is dead, of my girl,
The sparrow, delight of my girl,
Whom she loved more than her eyes.
For sweet was his way with her,
And he knew her as well as a girl her mother.
Nor would he move from her lap—
But, hopping this way and that way,
Would sing for his lady alone.
Now he goes on the dark path,
The one, it is said, no one comes back from.
Evil be with you, evil darknesses
Of Orcus, who swallow all beautiful!
For you have taken from me my lovely sparrow.
Ah, unkind doing! Ah, poor sparrow!
It is your work, that, of my girl,
The eyes are red and heavy with weeping.


Mourn This Sparrow, By Gaius Valerius Catullus. 1967. Here again is the renowned sparrow of the first century B.C. in Roman territory. Is there a more famous bird in the age that is ancient? This sparrow and free verse can be friends. Free verse can have import and casualness the way a sparrow can: free verse should have this. The death of this sparrow is an occurrence lingering wherever lingering can be; the death, in a fashion, is more immortal than life sometimes hopes to be. The harshness of Orcus will not die. A cause is given for the eyes of a girl being red and heavy with weeping, and that cause persists in saying: I'm here.

From Hail, American Development (Definition Press)
© 1968 by Eli Siegel

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