Last night, I was reading more Catullus. This poem was hard at first, because I always look at the first word - a fundamentally English vice (would that Latin were my mother-tongue). This poem is about fidelity.
Iucundum, mea vita, mihi proponis amorem
hunc nostrum inter nos perpetuumque fore.
Di magni, facite ut vere promittere possit
atque id sincere dicat et ex animo,
ut liceat nobis tota perducere vita
aeternum hoc sanctae foedus amicitiae.
You promise me, O my life, that this, our love
will be pleasant and everlasting between us.
Great Gods, grant that she be able to promise truly
and that she says this sincerely, and from the soul,
so that it may be lawful for us to lead through life
this eternal covenant of holy friendship.
Notice that iucundum (pleasant) is the first word. A more ''English'' or simpler Latin construction would be: mihi proponis hunc amorem nostrum inter nos iucundum perpetuumque fore (thanks to The Cambridge Latin Anthology). I had a similar difficulty when trying to translate St Augustine's introduction to The City of God - both main verbs (defendere and suscepi respectively) were halfway down the page!
I find most modern ''poetic'' translations irksome, because they do not translate faithfully. Edward Caswall's translations of Aquinas' Eucharistic hymns is a prime example. Caswell was a skilled Latinist, but Tantum ergo Sacramentum veneremur cernui does not mean ''down in adoration falling, lo! the Sacred Host we hail;'' it means ''therefore, heads foremost, we venerate so great a Sacrament.'' This is, incidentally, why we make a profound bow at ''veneremur cernui.'' Literal translations do not, of course, capture the beauty of the Latin. No doubt Caswell, and perhaps Fortescue, would accuse me of pedantry and lacking imagination. Translation is an art, but am I sufficient enough an artist to be a translator (my ideal job)? All I do is read, understand, and commit the words to the inferior English tongue.
I am rather bored with Tolkien at the moment, which is why I am doing more Latin. This is clearly advantageous, but for me to be ''bored'' with Tolkien must indicate some underlying problem?
The above photo is of one of my ladies, the beautiful, though notorious, Parisian courtesan Liane de Pougy, who later in life became Sr Anne Mary. She looks like a Gainsborough portrait doesn't she?