Vivamus mea Lesbia, atque amemus,
rumoresque senum severiorum
omnes unius aestimemus assis!
soles occidere et redire possunt:
nobis cum semel occidit brevis lux,
nox est perpetua una dormienda.
da mi basia mille, deinde centum,
dein mille altera, dein secunda centum,
deinde usque altera mille, deinde centum.
dein, cum milia multa fecerimus --
conturbabimus illa, ne sciamus,
aut ne quis malus invidere possit,
cum tantum sciat esse basiorum.
My prose translation:
Let us live, my Lesbia, and love, and think all the rumours of harder old men as of one penny! The sun can set and rise again: the light sets once on our brief lives, and the night is perpetual and to be slept. Give me a thousand kisses, then a hundred, then another thousand, then a second hundred, then yet another thousand, then a hundred. Then, when we have kissed many thousands of times - we will wipe them away, lest we should know, or so that no evil might even them, when they find out that there were so many kisses.
My verse translation attempt.
Come Lesbia, let us live and love,
and think the rumours of hard old men
all together worth but one penny!
The sun can set and rise again:
for us brief light departs but once,
the night is forever to be slept.
Give me kisses: a thousand then a hundred
then another thousand, a second hundred,
then yet one thousand, then a hundred.
Then, when we have made many thousands-
we'll wipe them out, lest we know,
or lest anyone evil can envy,
when they know how many kisses there were.
The poem is in hendecasyllabic metre, and is one of Catullus' first writings about Lesbia, which seems to have been an alias for Clodia, the wife of eminent statesman Clodius. This is one of Catullus' most celebrated poems, and its influences can be traced to many authors of the Romantic school. However, I think the most startling derivation from this poem is a short ditty written by Sir Walter Raleigh:
The sun may set and rise,
But we, contrawise,
Sleep, after our short light,
One everlasting night.