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From Catullus V -- Sir Walter Raleigh

(Poem #1464) From Catullus V
 The sun may set and rise,
 But we, contrariwise,
 Sleep, after our short light,
 One everlasting night.
-- Sir Walter Raleigh
Typically, Raleigh seizes upon the most fatalistic aspect of Catullus'
love song, and converts it into an epigram that is no less poignant for
being less than staggeringly original. I don't have much more to say,
and this commentary is already twice as long as the poem being commented
on, so I'll stop here :)


[Minstrels Links]

Ben Jonson:
Poem #301, The Noble Nature
Poem #313, Gypsy Songs
Poem #340, To Celia
Poem #724, Hymn to Diana

John Donne:
Poem #330, A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning
Poem #384, Song
Poem #403, A Lame Beggar
Poem #465, The Sun Rising
Poem #796, Death Be Not Proud (Holy Sonnets: X)
Poem #866, The Canonization
Poem #1002, The Bait
Poem #1168, The Good Morrow

and others:
Poem #149, Bethsabe's Song  -- George Peele
Poem #957, Whoso list to hunt -- Thomas Wyatt
Poem #1001, The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd -- Sir Walter Raleigh
Poem #1289, The Lie -- Sir Walter Raleigh
Poem #1336, Of Human Knowledge -- John Davies

43 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

John K. Taber said...

The goal of originality is fairly recent. I date it
to the Romantic era.

Before then, roughly from the Middle Ages to the Romantic
era (1800s and later), originality was suspect.

The feeling was, the World was once near perfect,
as were humans. It was the Golden Age. Imperceptibly, humans
and the World slipped into the Silver Age. Pretty good,
but nevertheless not what it was. It was downhill ever
since, deplorable even.

Thus, if it was not done before, it probably should not be
done now. Poets deliberately modelled themselves on the
classical poets. Spencer imitates Virgil's Eclogues in
his Shepard's Calender. I lose track of how many poets
imitated Horace. Everybody's ambition was to imitate, if
not Homer, at least Virgil's Aeneid. None succeeded. Poets
avoided anything that did not have precedence in the more
perfect past.

Some poets could not help being original. Someplace, in his
introduction to the Canterbury Tales, Chaucer apologizes
for his originality as if it were an imperfection, and
asks the reader's indulgence.

Raleigh imitating Catullus was doing the right thing. It
was a different mind-set.

John K. Taber

viagra online said...


I've been reading this blog and I get a new poem:

What can be said in New Year rhymes,
That's not been said a thousand times?
The new years come, the old years go,
We know we dream, we dream we know.
We rise up laughing with the light,
We lie down weeping with the night.
We hug the world until it stings,
We curse it then and sigh for wings.
We live, we love, we woo, we wed,
We wreathe our prides, we sheet our dead.
We laugh, we weep, we hope, we fear,
And that's the burden of a year.

Suncorp Internet Banking said...

Mortality FTW. Actually, not really, because it makes me sad.

Keith Andrew Massey said...

It's such a beautiful poem. And all the more sad considering how this love affair would end.
I made a song out of the Latin original. I hope you enjoy it:

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