Gaius Valerius Catullus
His Boat - Poem by Gaius Valerius Catullus
This boat you see, friends, will tell you
that she was the fastest of craft,
not to be challenged for speed
by any vessel afloat, whether
driven by sail or the labour of oars.
The threatening Adriatic coast won’t deny it,
nor the isles of the Cyclades,
nor noble Rhodes, nor fearful Bosphorus,
nor the grim bay of the Black Sea
where, before becoming a boat, she was
leafy wood: for on the heights of Cytorus
she often hissed to the whispering leaves.
The boat says these things were well known to you,
and are, Amastris and box-wood clad Cytorus:
she says from the very beginning she stood
on your slope, that she dipped her oars
in your water, and carried her owner from there
over so many headstrong breakers,
whether the wind cried from starboard
or larboard, or whether Jupiter struck at the sheets
on one side and the other, together:
and no prayers to the gods of the shore were offered
for her, when she came from a foreign sea
here, as far as this limpid lake.
But that’s past: now hidden away here
she ages quietly and offers herself to you,
Castor and his brother, heavenly Twins.
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