Skip to main content

Lesbia: Billet Doux to Gaius Valerius

Catullus, darling, I’ll abide no longer
these public shows of literary anger
because, for once, you’ve tangled with a woman
who samples love with more than one companion.

I’ve read your verses; they’re this year’s bestseller.
You flaunt your afternoons with Ipsitilla
and your affairs with men; then say I wander!
We’re grown-up people, aren’t we? Why this slander?
Your readers just get your side of the story.
I please myself, and if that hurts, I’m sorry.

My husband is away all day tomorrow.
Come round, and bring a titbit for my sparrow.
We’ll add some to your famous heap of kisses;
to win them, you must take your share of losses.

(PS: I don’t attempt poetic metre;
I’ve put this invitation in a letter.)

See ‘Twelve Poems by Catullus’ in section 6.