I hate and I love. You ask why?
I don't know, but I feel that it is so and am tormented.
Odi et amo. Quare id faciam, fortasse requiris?
Nescio, sed fieri sentio et excrucior.
A succinct, eloquent statement of the feelings Catullus has been hinting at in the past (Catullus 72 and 75) which are, of course, are for Lesbia. Written in elegiac couplet. This poem has been translated probably more than any other of Catullus', and for some reason a single couplet offers many more possibilities for translations than a longer poem, so here are some of the other possibilities:
- Horace Gregory:
I HATE and love.
And if you ask me why,
I have no answer, but I discern
can feel my senses rooted in eternal torture.
- Abraham Cowley, 1667:
I hate, and yet I love thee too,
How can that be? I know not how;
Only that so it is I know
And feel with torment that 'tis so.
- Ezra Pound:
I hate and love. Why? You may ask but
It beats me. I feel it done to me, and ache.
Latin text and other translations from:
Aronson, Andrew C. and Robert Broughner. Catullus and Horace. White Plains, NY: Longman, 1988
Some commentary from:
Fordyce, C. J. Catullus. New York: Oxford University Press, 1961.