So Spring is coming, to transform
Cold into warmth, and tame the storm
To amicable breezes. So,
Catullus, now’s the time to go -
To turn your back on Phrygian fields,
And shun Bithynia, though it yields
Great riches. Now’s the time to go
To famous cities I don’t know,
Far-flung in Asia. Now my mind
Is all a-fidget, and I find
My feet refusing to keep still...

So farewell to my friends, who will
Like me be roaming far from Rome.
Each man must find his own way home.


He’s ailing, Cornificius; your Catullus is not well.
He’s sinking by the minute and he’s feverish as hell.
Yet you haven’t come to visit; is that how friends behave
When a chum they’ve known for ages is careering to his grave?
If you have any heart at all, you’ll send a message, please,
Sopping with tragic empathy, like old Simonides.

Gaius Valerius Catullus
Translated by George Simmers

Simonides (c. 556–468 BC) was a poet famous for his noble epitaphs, especially that for the Lacedaemonians who died at the Battle of Thermopylae.

If you have any thoughts about these versions,  George Simmers  would be pleased to hear them.

Translations of poems by Catullus and others can be found in George Simmers's recently-published Riffs.