They Don’t Make Tortured Souls Like They Used to

I came across this fragment of a poem during my recent researches of ancient Rome:

Hard-it is hard of a sudden to break with a love

years-long cherished.

Yes, it is hard, but you must. This way or that, end it now.

Here only is your salvation. This fight you must win–

here be victor.

This you shall do. If you can or if you cannot.

You must.

O Gods, if you ever pity, if ever you bring to the stricken,

help in the anquish of death, in life’s extremity,

look on my misery, save him who vows he has lived free from evil.

Purge his plauge from my blood, make me clean

of this taint,

creeping like slow corruption within me, body, bone, sinew.

Not in all my heart space where joy may come.

No more now I pray she might love me again as I love her,

not for what cannot be, that she should wish to be true.

I would be healed, rise up from this torment of sickness

that fouls me.

O Gods, give only this–this to your worshipper.

                                                                                       –Catullus (ca 84B.C-ca 54B.C.)


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