Poem 31. Catullus around 60 bc went from Verona to Rome, where he soon fell in love with Clodia, an aristocratic woman at least ten years his senior. Although the romance was brief, she became the “Lesbia” to whom the poet addressed his most elegant verse, including Poem 5, which begins, “Let us live, my Lesbia, and let us love.”
Of all near islands, Sirmio, and of islands
the jewel, of every sort that in pellucid
lakes or vast ocean fresh or salt Neptune bears—
how gladly, with what joy I now cast eyes
on you once more, can’t believe I’ve left those flat,
endless Bithynian plains, can see your safe haven.
What greater bliss than when, cares all dissolved,
the mind lays down its burden, and, exhausted
by our foreign labors we at last reach home
and sink into the bed we’ve so long yearned for?
This, this alone makes all our toil worthwhile.
Greetings, sweet Sirmio, and rejoice, your master’s
here: and rejoice, you too, you lakeside ripples,
and all you joys of home, break out in laughter.