The Sparrow

Catullus Confesses

From a small boy beside the Appian Way
I bought my Lesbia a little sparrow;
Most cruel, on a string he gave it play;
When up it soared, he drew it back again —
A ready lesson to a world of men,
It fluttered to and fro unceasingly,
Similitude of love's captivity....
Now it's a pretty, tiny, impudent thing
Stretching its leg along a lazy wing,
And pertly it can hop and sweetly sing
Or fight her finger, thrust against its beak,
Screaming, mock-angry, in small-warrior style
The while she teases it, and laughs the while, —
Till with her laughter and the bird's shrill cries
The house is filled...for Lesbia is wise
Where I am foolish, since I cannot borrow
Even from her love a cure to lighten sorrow....
And so, from day to day, from week to week,
Lesbia assails her pet: if great Rome fell
She still would feed it crumbs and deem all well,
Yea, though all ways of time and fate grew narrow
For Lesbia is spoiled, and life's her sparrow!
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