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A Cockney CatullusThe Reception of Catullus in Romantic Britain, 1795–1821$

Henry Stead

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198744887

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198744887.001.0001

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(p.307) Appendix Some Poems by W. S. Landor, T. Moore, Byron, the editors of the Anti-Jacobin, and Leigh Hunt

(p.307) Appendix Some Poems by W. S. Landor, T. Moore, Byron, the editors of the Anti-Jacobin, and Leigh Hunt

A Cockney Catullus
Oxford University Press

Walter Savage Landor

Imitations from Catullus:

  • To the Sparrow of Lesbia1
  • SPARROW! Lesbia’s lively guest,
  • Cherish’d ever in her breast!
  • Whom with tantalizing jokes
  • Oft to peck her she provokes:
  • Thus in pretty playful wiles
  • Love and absence she beguiles.
  • Oft, like her, to ease my pain,
  • I thy little fondness gain.
  • Dear to me as, bards have told,
  • Was the apple’s orb of gold
  • To the Nymph whose long-tied zone
  • That could loose, and that alone.
  • On the Death of Lesbia’s Sparrow2
  • VENUS! Cupid! Beaux! deplore—
  • Lesbia’s sparrow is no more!
  • That which she was wont to prize
  • Dearer than her lovely eyes.
  • Like a child, her voice it knew,
  • Twittering here and there it flew:
  • Cunningly her breast it loved,
  • Whence it very seldom moved.
  • Now, alas! ’tis in the bourn
  • Whence it never may return.
  • Cruel shades! that round it lour!
  • All that’s pretty ye devour.
  • Lesbia’s sparrow ye have ta’en!—
  • Cause of unabating pain!
  • Little bird! now thou art fled,
  • Lesbia’s weeping eyes are red.
  • To Lesbia3
  • YES! my Lesbia! let us prove
  • All the sweets of life in love.
  • Let us laugh at envious sneers;
  • Envy is the fault of years.
  • Vague report let us despise;
  • Suns may set and suns may rise:
  • We, when sets our twinkling light,
  • Sleep a long-continued night.
  • Make we then, the most of this—
  • Let us kiss, and kiss, and kiss.
  • While we thus the night employ,
  • Envy cannot know our joy.
  • So, my Lesbia! let us prove
  • All the sweets of life in love.
  • To Lesbia4
  • AND canst thou, my love! enquire
  • Just the kisses I desire?
  • —Many as the sands that lie
  • ’Neath the torrid Lybian sky:
  • From—along the benzoin plain—
  • Battus’ tomb to Ammon’s fane.
  • Many as the stars that ken
  • —Calm the night—the loves of men.
  • These Catullus, then, requires
  • Equal to his vast desires,
  • Which not man can over-rate,
  • Nor Enchantress fascinate.
  • Epithalamium of Manlius and Julia5
  • YOUTH of Helicon! whose race
  • Poets from Urania trace:
  • By whose hand the modest maid
  • To her loved spouse is laid.
  • Round your brow, O Hymen! wreathe
  • Amaranths that sweetly breathe:
  • Take the veil of fiery dye,
  • On your feet the sandals tie—
  • Sandals pink that lustre throw
  • O’er an ankle white as snow.
  • Waken’d by the cheerful day,
  • Tune the tinkling nuptial lay;
  • Wave the pineal torch, and beat
  • Music’s note with nimble feet.
  • Beauteous as Idalia’s Queen
  • Tript along the Phrygian green,
  • Ida’s youthful judge to prove
  • Faithful in the cause of love:
  • Julia, blest with equal charms,
  • Hastes, O Manlius! to thine arms.
  • She awaits her happy spouse,
  • Blooming as the myrtle boughs
  • Which, along their Asian plain,
  • Blossoms all the year retain:
  • Whence the Hamadryads sip
  • Nectar sweet with sportive lip.
  • Now no longer, Hymen! dwell
  • Loitering in the Thespian dell.
  • Nor where Aganippe’s rill
  • Cools Aonia’s craggy hill.
  • But invite the fair to come
  • To her husband’s happy home.
  • So with love her fancy bind
  • As the ivy-tendrils wind
  • Round an oak their wandering course,
  • Pressing with instinctive force.
  • Virgins! Pure from amorous play,
  • Listen to the lively lay.
  • Time to you your hour will bring:
  • Sing to Hymen, Hymen sing.
  • So, more willing he will hear,
  • Sweetly cited to appear.
  • Whom should lovers more require
  • Than the friend of fond desire?
  • Than the God whose hand unite
  • Every bond of pure delight?
  • Hymen! ’tis to you alone
  • Virgins loose the silken zone:
  • Fearful all the while of you,
  • Oft they ask what husbands do.
  • You consign the modest bride
  • To her ardent lover’s side:
  • Sever’d from her mother’s breast,
  • Sever’d only to be blest.
  • There where Hymen never came,
  • What is Venus? Where is Fame!
  • But at your supreme command
  • They are ever hand in hand.
  • Open wide, ye doors! behold
  • Torches shake their hair of gold.
  • Why then, bashful bride! delay
  • Longer than declining day?
  • Is it that ingenuous shame
  • Shuns to hear it honor’d name?
  • Weeping that at evening’s close
  • All is rapture and repose.
  • Ne’er from thee will Manlius range,
  • Ne’er from thee his heart estrange:
  • Ne’er, neglectful, sink to rest
  • Distant from thy tender breast.
  • But, as loves the vigorous Vine
  • Its enamour’d arms to twine
  • Round and round a friendly tree,
  • Thus thy Manlius will to thee.
  • Glimmering now the day-light flies—
  • Julia! bashful bride! arise!
  • Lo! upon the Tyrian bed,
  • O’er thee bends thy lover’s head!
  • Manlius! happy youth! thine arms
  • Now may wander o’er her charms:
  • O’er the cheeks of roseate glow,
  • Slender neck and breast of snow.
  • Thou art also Venus’ care!
  • Thou art young, and thou are fair
  • Prosper’d by her genial aid,
  • Soon hast thou her laws obey’d.
  • May, within the circling year,
  • A Torquatus hence appear:
  • Stretch to thee the arm that prest
  • Close, before, its mother’s breast:
  • Turn to thee the welcome smile,
  • Sweetly pouting all the while.
  • May the Stranger’s eye admire
  • In the son the noble fire:
  • May his rosy boyish face
  • Bloom with each maternal grace.
  • Now, ye Virgins! close the door;
  • Dance and sing and play no more.
  • Now, ye amicable Pair!
  • Active lover! envied fair!
  • Spend in transport, while ye may,
  • Youth and Beauty’s fleeting day.6
  • Ad Amicum7
  • CHARE P***! quid ago requiris?
  • Saepe vel tento lepidum Catulli
  • Carmen, aut tendit mihi Martialis
  • Musa flagellos.
  • Dear Parr! You ask me what I’m doing?
  • I often either attempt the elegant song
  • of Catullus, or Martial’s Muse tempts
  • me with lashes.
  • Rideo, sperno, rabidum Cachistum:
  • Hei mihi! semper brevis ille risus!
  • Currui adfigo Scelus, at molestat
  • Cura triumphum.
  • I laugh at, I scorn, the furious Cachistus:
  • But my laughter, o my! never lasts very long!
  • I fix Wickedness to my chariot, but Care
  • spoils the triumph.
  • Heu iuventutis reditura nunquam
  • Gaudia! infestâ mihi dempta dextrâ;
  • Innocens risus, agilesque ludi,
  • Laetaque frontis.
  • Alas! The ever-gone joys of youth!
  • Snatched away from me by an angry hand;
  • The innocent laugh, spritely games and
  • Happy face.
  • Pila, trans aulam validis lacertis
  • Acta non crebrò resonat; nec aura
  • Fert citum binis peditum catervis
  • Altius orbem.
  • The ball, across the court by strong arms
  • Driven, no longer makes its familiar sound; nor does
  • The breeze still carry the swift orb booted high
  • By two crowding teams.8
  • Non leves, aptae stabilire foedus
  • Mutuum, rixae; nec operta stratis
  • Ora, cum longas timidasque ducit
  • Fabula noctes.
  • Gone are the gentle quarrels, apt to
  • strengthen mutual bonds; gone too
  • Are the wide-open eyes in bed, when a story
  • stretches and brings fear to nights.
  • Haec ego interdum memini, iuvatque
  • Et dolet; quaedam dolor est voluptas:
  • Sed parùm mitis mea lenta corda
  • Torquet amaror.
  • Sometimes I recall these things; it brings joys
  • But also pain; pain is a pleasure of sorts:
  • But in no way soft is the bitterness
  • That twists my heart at rest.
  • Eia age! abstergam lacrymas; Iacchum
  • In coronatos cyathos vocabo:
  • Reddat elapsum catus ille Tempus,
  • Gaudia reddat.
  • Come on! I’ll wipe away these tears, summon
  • Bacchus from the bottom of ornate cups:
  • That sage [Bacchus] will bring back days gone by,
  • Bring back those joys of old.
  • Forsan et dulcem referat Sodalem,
  • —At procul nobis abes, O Sodalis!—
  • Sin minùs, primum mea te iubebunt
  • Vota valere.
  • Perhaps he might also bring back my friend,
  • ’though you are far from me now, my friend!
  • But if not, at least my prayers will bid
  • you farewell at last.

Thomas Moore

  • Dicebas quondam, &c.
  • To Lesbia9
  • THOU told’st me in our days of love,
  • That I had all that heart of thine;
  • That, ev’n to share the couch of Jove,
  • Thou would’st not, Lesbia, part from mine.
  • How purely wert thou worshipp’d then!
  • Not with the vague and vulgar fires
  • Which Beauty wakes in soulless men,—
  • But lov’d, as children by their sires.
  • That flattering dream, alas, is o’er;—
  • I know thee now—and though these eyes
  • Doat on thee wildly as before,
  • Yet, even in doating, I despise.
  • Yes, sorceress—mad as it may seem—
  • With all thy craft, such spells adorn thee,
  • That passion even outlives esteem,
  • And I, at once, adore—and scorn thee.

Lord Byron

  • Translation from Catullus
  • Ad Lesbiam10
  • Equal to Jove that youth must be—
  • Greater than Jove he seems to me—
  • Who, free from Jealousy’s alarms,
  • Securely views thy matchless charms.
  • That cheek, which ever dimpling glows,
  • That mouth, from whence such music flows,
  • To him, alike, are always known,
  • Reserved for him, and him alone.
  • Ah! Lesbia! though ’tis death to me,
  • I cannot choose but look on thee;
  • But, at the sight, my senses fly;
  • I needs must gaze, but, gazing, die;
  • Whilst trembling with a thousand fears,
  • Parch’d to the throat my tongue adheres,
  • My pulse beats quick, my breath heaves short,
  • My limbs deny their slight support,
  • Cold dews my pallid face o’erspread,
  • With deadly languor droops my head,
  • My ears with tingling echoes ring,
  • And life itself is on the wing;
  • My eyes refuse the cheering light,
  • Their orbs are veiled in starless night:
  • Such pangs my nature sinks beneath,
  • And feels a temporary death.
  • Translation from Catullus
  • [Lugete, Veneres, Cupidinesque, etc.]11
  • Ye Cupids, droop each little head
  • Nor let your wings with joy be spread,
  • My Lesbia’s fav’rite bird is dead,
  • Which dearer than her eyes she lov’d:
  • For he was gentle, and so true,
  • Obedient to her call he flew,
  • No fear, no wild alarm he knew,
  • But lightly o’er her bosom moved:
  • And softly fluttering here and there,
  • He never sought to cleave the air,
  • But chirrup’d oft, and, free from care,
  • Tuned to her ear his grateful strain.
  • But now he’s pass’d the gloomy bourne
  • From whence he never can return,
  • His death and Lesbia’s grief I mourn,
  • Who sighs, alas! but sighs in vain.
  • Oh! curst be thou, devouring grave!
  • Whose jaws eternal victims crave,
  • From whom no earthly power can save,
  • For thou hast ta’en the bird away:
  • From thee my Lesbia’s eyes o’erflow,
  • Her swollen cheeks with weeping glow;
  • Thou art the cause of all her woe,
  • Receptacle of life’s decay.


  • An Affectionate Effusion of Citizen Muskein to Havre-de-grace12
  • Fairest of cities,* which the Seine
  • Surveys ’twixt Paris and the main,
  • Sweet Havre! sweetest Havre, hail!
  • How gladly, with my tattered sail,
  • Ad Sirmionem Peninsularum
  • *Peninsularum Sirmio, Insularumque,
  • Ocelle! quascunque in liquentibus stagnis,
  • Marique vasto fert uterque Neptunis;
  • Quam te libenter, quamque laetus inviso,
  • * * *
  • Yet trembling from this wild adventure,
  • Do I thy friendly harbour enter!
  • Well—now I’ve leisure, let me see
  • What boats are left me; one, two, three—
  • Bravo! the better half remain;
  • And all my heroes are not slain.
  • And, if my senses don’t deceive,
  • I too am safe,*—yes! I believe,
  • Without a wound I reach thy shore;
  • (For I have felt myself all o’er)
  • I’ve all my limbs, and be it spoken
  • With honest triumph, no bone broken—
  • How pleasing is the sweet transition
  • From this vile gunboat expedition;
  • From winds and waves, and wounds and scars,
  • From British soldiers, British Tars,
  • To his own house, where, free from danger,
  • Muskein may live at rack and manger;
  • Vix mi ipse credens Thyniam, atque Bithynos
  • Lisquisse campos*, et videre te in tuto.
  • O quid solutis est beatius curis,
  • Quom mens onus reponit, ac peregrino
  • Labore fessi venimus larem ad nostrum,
  • * * *
  • May stretch his limbs in his own cot,*
  • Thankful he has not gone to pot;
  • Nor for the bubble glory strive.
  • But bless himself that he’s alive!
  • Havre, sweet Havre! hail again,
  • O! bid thy sons (a frolic train,
  • Who under Chenier welcomed in
  • With dance and song, the Guillotine),
  • In long procession seek the strand;
  • For Muskein now prepares to land,
  • ’Scaped, Heaven knows how, from that cursed crew
  • That haunt the Rocks of SAINT MARCOU.
  • *Desideratque acquiescimus lecto.
  • Salve! O venusta Sirmio! Atque hero gaude!
  • Gaudete! Vosque Lydiae lacus undae!
  • Ridete quicquid est domi cachinnorum!

(p.316) Leigh Hunt

  • The Return Home of Catullus13
  • Peninsularum, Sirmio, insularumque
  • Ocelle quascunque in liquentibus stagnis
  • Marique uasto fert uterque Neptunus,
  • Quam te libenter quamque laetus inuiso,
  • Vix me ipse credens Thuniam atque Bithunos
  • Liquisse campos & uidere te in tuto!
  • O quid solutis est beatius curis,
  • Cum mens onus reponit, ac peregrino
  • Labore fessi uenimus larem ad nostrum,
  • Desideratoque acquiescimus lecto!
  • Hoc est quod unum est pro laboribus tantis.
  • Salue, o uenusta Sirmio, atque ero gaude
  • Gaudente, uosque, o Lydiae lacus undae,
  • Ridete quidquid est domi cachinnorum!


(1) Landor (1795) 134 (Catullus 2).

(2) Landor (1795) 135 (Catullus 3).

(3) Landor (1795) 136 (Catullus 5).

(4) Landor (1795) 137 (Catullus 7).

(5) Landor (1795) 138–43 (Catullus 61).

(6) This imitation contains only about half of the original.

(7) The text is printed as it appears in Landor (1795) 178–9. It contains a couple of basic errors, presumably Landor’s own, which do not hugely affect the text, including: line 4: flagellos for flagella; line 12: frontis for frons. The translation provided is my own. For others please see Rudd’s Landor’s Latin Poems (2010) and Sutton’s The Complete Latin Poetry of Walter Savage Landor (1999), vol. 1.

(8) Tennis and football are the two sports to which Landor harks back from his teenage years at Rugby School. William Webb Ellis would not make his famous first run with the ball in hand at Rugby until 1823 (thus inventing the sport of rugby union as we now know it), but in the late eighteenth century the game still bore a greater resemblance to modern-day rugby than it did to football, or soccer.

(9) Kelly (1854) 275 (Catullus 72).

(10) Byron (1806) 63 (Catullus 51).

(11) Byron (1806) 65 (Catullus 3).

(12) Anti-Jacobin 32, reprinted in Stones (1999) 244–5. Presented here as in the original, with Latin at the foot of each of three pages.

(13) The Examiner (20 September 1812) No. 247, 600.