December 15, 2009

Cocktail Talk: Catullus, Poem 27, Translation by Ed Skoog

It is the middle of the holiday cocktail party season. There are, let’s see, daytime work holiday parties, and nighttime work holiday parties, afternoon drinking parties with friends, and evening drinking parties with friends, holiday booze-teas with families, and holiday booze-luncheons with families, and holiday booze evenings with families, and then a host of parties thrown by those that might be friends, but not good friends, but parties you feel you should go to anyway, in the spirit of the season. With all this holiday partying, it’s possible (if not probable) that one or two of the parties may be more chore than cheer. With that, I’d like to present the following poem by Catullus, ancient partier. The poem is about these later parties a bit, and may well be worth reciting loudly when you’re at any holiday party. The translation (because, well, I can’t read ancient Latin) is by modern partier and poet Ed Skoog (did you get Mister Skylight yet? Cause if not, I’m sending a zombie Catullus to haunt you) and is, well, delicious.


Poem 27


Are you tending the bar, kid? Pour me the strong stuff,

the Falernian wine, and one for yourself. We’re going to need it,

the way this party is going. Our host, Postumia, is drunker than

these grapes. No water, please. It kills what wine is.

Save water for the fool who prefers his own sorrow.

This wine is more than wine. It’s the blood of the god

whose mother was destroyed by his father’s splendor,

the god of madness and ecstasy, who shares it with us.


— Poem 27, Catullus, translated by Ed Skoog


PS: Enjoy this drunken poetry and lit’rature stuff? Then you must, I say must, visit the blog Drunk Literature. It’s a literary boozehound’s dream blog.

Becca said:

AJ, you are, once again, AWESOME! Thank you so much for the shout-out.

And, you’ve given me a new (old) poet to check out, which is always a most welcome treat. My Greek Classics needs a bit of a brush-up! My favorite part of your post is, “Catallus, ancient partier.” Makes him pretty badass, if you ask me.

admin said:

Becca, you’ll love Catullus (search out a good translation, or just translate them yourself). He was a drunken sex’d up reprobate of the first order. And, speaking of, so is Ed Skoog—you’ll love his book, so get that too. Then your holiday reading will be set. Now, you just need to figure out your holiday drinking . . .

Scharrer said:

That’s awesome. Almost makes me want to go get me some old Latin poetry and settle in for the ….nah, I’ll hit the Christmas party circuit instead.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Rathbun on Film