SONNET AFTER CATULLUS
Vivamus, mea Lesbia, atque amemus…
John was classically educated and studied many of the Latin poets, among them was Gaius Catullus, a Roman poet who lived from 82 to 52 BC. This Catullas quote means “Let us live, my Lesbia, and let us love”. He used Lesbia (nothing to do with lesbian) as an alias to protect his real love Clodia. I suspect that John Magee used this Sonnet with thoughts of his real love Elinor Lyon who was the headmaster’s daughter and a year older than he and the subject of most of John’s poems. His love for her (as I’ve said, unrequited) is evident here.
Sweetheart, to live a life of careless love,
Unhurried by the vapidness of Age!
---To live, whether there’s sun or moon above
Content, within a lover’s tutelage;
To share the dreams of every tranquil night;
Ask nothing more than someone to adore;
So while we live, let kisses bring delight---
Kiss me a thousand times, --- a hundred more,
Again a thousand; may we never tire
Of showing outward signs of inward Love
To cool the burning flame of our desire!
And then, lest any envier reprove,
We’ll start again, no matter what the score,
---And lip to lip we’ll kiss evermore!
(Catie, I wish this kind of love for you)