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This poem is taken from PN Review 67, Volume 15 Number 5, May - June 1989.

Catullus Translations Penny McCarthy

Catullus VII
A metaphysical exercise


Queritur: How many kisses (mine, of you)
will satisfy me, Lesbia. ("Won't that do?")

The answer is: The grains of Libyan sand
that lie between the shrine - in Battus' land -

of Battus and the oracle of Jupiter.
That's in Cyrene with its asafoetida.

The answer is (again) the hosts of stars
that note, at dead of night, the world's amours.

So, are you answered? That's the number you
must give this crazy lover: that will do.

Keep it a secret: let no evil eye
or witching tongue know it's - infinity.

Catullus LI
What's otium to him?

...


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