Tuesday, January 27, 2009



Thomas Babington Macaulay, quoted in George Otto Trevelyan, The Life and Letters of Lord Macaulay, new ed. (London, Longmans, Green, and Co., 1881), p. 665:
I have pretty nearly learned all that I like best in Catullus. He grows on me with intimacy. One thing he has,—I do not know whether it belongs to him, or to something in myself,—but there are some chords of my mind which he touches as nobody else does. The first lines of 'Miser Catulle;' the lines to Cornificius, written evidently from a sick bed; and part of the poem beginning 'Si qua recordanti' affect me more than I can explain. They always move me to tears.
The same, p. 690:
Finished Catullus August 3, 1835. An admirable poet. No Latin writer is so Greek. The simplicity, the pathos, the perfect grace, which I find in the great Athenian models, are all in Catullus, and in him alone of the Romans.
Walter Savage Landor, On Catullus:
Tell me not what too well I know
About the bard of Sirmio.
  Yes, in Thalia's son
Such stains there are—as when a Grace
Sprinkles another's laughing face
  With nectar, and runs on.
Walter Savage Landor, Written in a Catullus:
Among these treasures there are some
That floated past the wreck of Rome;
But others, for their place unfit,
Are sullied by uncleanly wit.
So in its shell the pearl is found
With rank putridity around.
Algernon Charles Swinburne, To Catullus:
My brother, my Valerius, dearest head
Of all whose crowning bay-leaves crown their mother
Rome, in the notes first heard of thine I read
  My brother.

No dust that death or time can strew may smother
Love and the sense of kinship inly bred
From loves and hates at one with one another.

To thee was Caesar's self nor dear nor dread,
Song and the sea were sweeter each than other:
How should I living fear to call thee dead
  My brother?
Robert Bridges, To Catullus:
Would that you were alive today, Catullus!
Truth 'tis, there is a filthy skunk amongst us,
A rank musk-idiot, the filthiest skunk,
Of no least sorry use on earth, but only
Fit in fancy to justify the outlay
Of your most horrible vocabulary.

My Muse, all innocent as Eve in Eden,
Would yet wear any skins of old pollution
Rather than celebrate the name detested.
Ev'n now might he rejoice at our attention,
Guess'd he this little ode were aiming at him.
O! were you but alive again, Catullus!

For see, not one among the bards of our time
With their flimsy tackle was out to strike him;
Not those two pretty Laureates of England,
Not Alfred Tennyson nor Alfred Austin.
William Butler Yeats, The Scholars:
Bald heads forgetful of their sins,
Old, learned, respectable bald heads
Edit and annotate the lines
That young men, tossing on their beds,
Rhymed out in love's despair
To flatter beauty's ignorant ear.

All shuffle there; all cough in ink;
All wear the carpet with their shoes;
All think what other people think;
All know the man their neighbour knows.
Lord, what would they say
Did their Catullus walk that way?

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