Friday, January 12, 2007

Week 2: What is a life?

This week we have read Carmen 51 and Carmen 5. We have listened to Catullus' description of what simply looking at his lady does to him, and we have heard him describe human life as a brief light that, when it sets, must sleep the sleep that must be slept. And then he calls for all those kisses!

Consider this poem written in English by Mary Oliver (which, magically, I just received from a friend by email while we were studying Carmen 5), and then try your hand at answering the question "what is a life?". According to the Catullus of 51, what is a life? According to the Catullus of 5, what is a life? According to Mary Oliver, what is a life? Try and keep your comments focused and concise. Do you share these views of life, or not?

Enjoy!

Magister Patricius

The Summer Day
Mary Oliver
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
from New and Selected Poems, 1992
Beacon Press, Boston, MA
© 1992 by Mary Oliver.
All rights reserved.

42 comments:

ARP Rocker said...

I think that Catullus 51 describes life as sort of full of lust, and want. You see something that appeals to your senses, and your body, and you want it. Most of the time you cant get it, but you still long for it. Catullus 5 also, seems to hint at the same thing. But, more so, it says to live for now, which was big for the wealthy and influential back then. Mary's interpretation on life seems to be of wonder. She looks at three different animals, focusing on one, an insect. It seems to tell of how life is different for this bug, but still as wild and amazing. Personally, i believe that life here, is to be enjoyed, but not abused. We need to look out for our fellow Man, as well as our neighbor. Life is living for others, as a helper. I dont share the thought of "carpe diem". I think that it is selfish to live only for yourself, and your wishes. Living for others, to me, brings more satisfaction than all the days i could seize in a lifetime.

Gretzky said...

Life is not just one thing. Life is full of dissapointment, want, greed, lust, and choices. In life, you are always trying to full fill something or some idea of what you think it should be. In Carmen 51 Catullus is seeking the attetion and love a woman which he cannot, and will not ever have. In the end, he tells himself that no matter what, if is is lazy and does nothing but watch this girl he will never do anything with his life. He has to make a choice, what is more important to him, a girl who is unobtainable, or his sanity and reputation. In the end he makes a choice and attempts to continue on his way. In Carmen 5 he talks about what life truly is and what you need to do with it..."Vivamus mea Lesbia, atque amemus, rumoresque senum severiorum omnes unius aestimemus assis!" or in english "Let us live, my Lesbia, and let us love, and let us judge all the rumors of the old men to be worth just one penny!". Pretty much, who cares about life, live it to the fulles because you dont have that much of it and enjoy what you have of it. Live, Love, and who cares what anyone else thinks....the true meaning of life. The poem by Mary Oliver is saying the same thing. Life doesnt last forever use the life you have and dont dwell to much on the past or the future. Carpe diem "size the day" make the best of what you have, and life your life to the fullest. That is what life is all about.

LOL said...

In Carmen 51, Catullus describes life as full of want and desire (in his case, he desires Lesbia), but at the end of the poem, he tells himself that leisure is a bother because it destroyed the kings before and the blessed cities. In other words, I think Catullus is saying that he shouldn't have so much leisure desiring and wanting things, especially if he can't have them, because there are other things in life that are more important. In Carmen 5, Catullus states that life should be lived to the fullest because it is short and we don't get another chance once we die. We should enjoy the time we have and not care about what others think just as Catullus wants to live and love with Lesbia and not consider what other people say about them. According to Mary Oliver, life is precious and short. We must live and enjoy life to the fullest in a carefree manner, and do things that we ourselves want to do. I definitely share some of these views of life. I believe in living life to the fullest and not caring about what others think. I also have my priorities set, so when I can't get something I want, I just move on to something more important.

Jesx said...

I think that Catullus 51 shows life as a constant lusting for something that entices human interests. There are things you get out of it, but it leaves you wanting more and becoming greedy over time. It seems true how people act this way. In Catullus 5, I think it goes more into detail by saying to go for the things you want and not stand by waiting for something to happen. I agree since things won't always come easy. Also, Mary Oliver's poem "The Summer Day" gave a sense that these things come natural because we are wild and free to do as we wish. In the order that we read these poems, we've sort of followed a path into what we feel, what we should do it, and why it comes basic to feel this way.

gabaseballer7 said...

In Catullus 51, a man is trying to seek the love that he wants from this woman. He is obviously obsessed with this woman because he describes her in various ways that proves that she means the world to him. In Catullus 5, Catullus is saying that as long as he has this woman, his life will be complete. He just wants them to live and love each other, and nothing else matters because life is too short to be unhappy. In Mary Oliver's poem, she is saying that life is full of wonder and that life is the most valuable thing we have. I think life is simply the actions we take and how we pursue our future. Life is short, so we must take chances and live it to the fullest.

baseball0808 said...

Well, I believe in this topic pretty similarly as Catullus does in Catullus 5. Life is short. Pick whatever it is you love the most, something you're passionate about, the thing that will make you happy for the rest of your life. Find it... and fight for it. Risk it all. Put whatever this thing is in front of everything. In the end, maybe some of the stuff you do isn't right, or maybe you break the rules a little bit. It doesn't matter because in the end you know that if it makes you happy, then the juice is worth the squeeze. To seek happiness sometimes you HAVE to say what the heck, and take some chances. Plus, you'll probably have some fun along the way. I know I have. Even if you don't have fun, if you found what it is you're looking for, no matter what anybody thinks, you'll be happy, and that's all that matters. If I'm provided a quote to close off this thought, I would say this, If you want the ultimate, you've got to be willing to pay the ultimate price.

welchie said...

Catullus 51 describes a life as something that is full of passion, love, and lust. In 51, Catullus is talking about how he feels when he thinks about a certain woman, and you can tell that his mind will focus on very little else. Catullus 5 reminds me of the song from Rent "No Day But Today." In this song the cast is singing about how short life is, because most of them have AIDs, and they are saying that they have to live life moment by moment because they never know if they will have another day. Catullus has much the same feeling when he is telling Lesbia to "judge all the rumors of old men to be worth just a penny." He does not want to waste a moment of his time with Lesbia. In Oliver's poem, she mentions the grasshopper to show how delicate and fleeting life really is. She is showing that her view of life is much like Catullus' in Catullus 5.

Wolf Angel said...

According to Catullus 51, life should not have too much leisure time for the mind. It is during the time Catullus lets his mind wander that he thinks of Lesbia, and whenever he thinks of her, he can’t think of anything else, creating a powerful obsession that he can’t shake off. Catullus 51 seems to be saying that if someone can’t keep his or her mind busy enough, it will find something to focus on. In Catullus 5, Catullus has tossed away all his cares, and asks Lesbia to do the same. Life is too short to worry about what others think, and far too short to not do what you really want to do. Mary Oliver’s poem gives a message similar to Catullus 5. She’s realized, during some point in the day, that she doesn’t feel like she has done anything, and wonders what she should have done to feel more accomplishment. She, like Catullus, feels that life is too short to do nothing, so you should do what you feel like doing. Her poem reminds me of the quote “It’s your life, now what are you going to do with it?”

XRoSeSrReD317X said...

A life is a period of time in which we experience many emotions. Emotions such as love, pain, happiness, regret, and all other sorts of emotions play a huge role in how we live our life. According to the Catullus of 51 life is a light that can be darkened with lust and desire. The same thing is said according to the Catullus of 5. According to Mary Oliver, life is a time period filled with decisions and sometimes regret. Life is also filled with questions to which everyone seeks answers. I do share these views of life because everyone experiences all sorts of emotions and wonders all sorts of questions sometime or another in their life.

Dr. Gregory House said...

In Carmen 51 Catullus lets us know that life, for him, is loving Lesbia. Life is about not sitting and waiting and letting the other guy steal his girl. Life is all about doing something, and fighting for what you want more than anything else in the world. The feelings that he has for Lesbia have crazy effects on him; but if he does nothing about them, if he only sits and waits for life to start it never will. Then in Carmen 5 Catullus shows how once he has the girl, he wants to spend every moment he has with her living and loving because once our light goes out we don't get another chance. Mary Oliver says the same thing in her poem. Life is short so spend it doing whatever brings a smile to your face, even if that means just sitting in the grass watching the grasshoppers. You get one wild, precious life so treat it that way.

I agree that life is short and if you're not surrounded by people and moments that make you happy, then you're really not living. Living is hard. Living can wear you down and burn you out. But life is about hoping for a brighter tomorrow and making it happen. Life is about being a nervous wreck, but embracing the butterflies when you get the courage to talk to a certain someone. I think Mary Oliver and Catullus would both agree, however cliched and cheesy it might be, that "Life isn’t measured by the number of breaths you take, but by the moments that take your breath away. ..."

latin blogger said...

In Carmen 51, Catullus describes how leisure is trouble and has destroyed cities and kings. Catullus believes that stagnancy in life is not desirable. I think Catullus believes that he should take the initiative with Lesbia instead of just sitting back and watching her. In Carmen 5, it is very clear that Catullus believes life is short by telling Lesbia to take a chance with him. He knows that one's life can only be lived once and that a person should make the most out of it and "live life to its fullest." The poem by Mary Oliver just shows how complex life is. Just by seeing something that seems so insignificant in nature, she describes how unique every action of the grasshopper is. I share these feeling with life. I don't think that every component of life should be over-analyzed. There are so many simple pleasures that people miss these days. I think that enjoying where you are yet constantly striving for more makes a life.

inthecake said...

Carmen 51 illustrates life as a kind of wanting and lust. Catullus describes his feelings for Lesbia and how they change him completely. He states that her “sweet laughter, robs him of all feelings.” He is in love with Lesbia and this is his life. The passion he has for her is overwhelming, so life, in Catullus’ mind is the love he has for Lesbia. Again in Carmen 5, Catullus illustrates life as love. Catullus wants many many kisses so that others will be jealous of the life he has, or the love he has obtained. He also believes that life is about what chances you take and not about how others may judge you. He says that “all the rumors of old men are worth just one penny,” which shows that he loves Lesbia so much, he doesn’t care about the opinions of others. Mary Oliver has a similar meaning of life. Her poem demonstrates that life is too short. According to her poem, life should be about taking chances and living life to the fullest. That everything will die, and sometimes too soon. If looking at grasshoppers in the grass or strolling through the fields is what you love to do, then do it, because life is too short to not pursue what you love. This also correlates with Catullus’ poems because he is pursuing what he loves, Lesbia.
I agree with these views of life. It is a scary world, and your life can be over in an instant. If you don’t take any chances and don’t pursue what you love, you will not be happy when you life is ending. When one dies, they need to die knowing that they lived life to the fullest and they didn’t hold back. Mistakes, relationships, failures, friendships, achievements- these are all parts that I believe one must have in their life to live life to the fullest. You can’t worry about what this person will think of you, or if you will get turned down, you just have to go for it, because you never know when the chance of pursuing what you love will be taken away forever.

Vance224 said...

According to Catullus 5 & 51 life is a time for love; according to Mary Oliver life is fragile and should be usedto accomplish something. However I feel that one's life should be what ever one wants it to be

Ian said...

As pretty much everyone has pointed out, Catullus 51 is about earthly desires, 5 is a carpe diem message, and Mary Oliver's poem The Summer Day is about the wonderment and natural joy of life. Each one of these perspectives can be tied in with the others to explain what a life is. Catullus 51 describes his love for Lesbia and in 5 he says that such opportunities are scarce and life is short... so let's get it on. Oliver's poem is another carpe diem message, going so far as to ask what the reader is going to do with his or her one wild and precious life.

Life is passion/opportunity/wonder.
Take your pick.

cullenforhire said...

Life, as described in Carmen 51, is purely about love and the passion involved, whereas in Carmen 5 it takes into account the idea that this is not forever, and therefore we should not edit our actions according to the thoughts of others. But in both Catullus is speaking of love, and therefore I believe that love is the center of life for Catullus. Mary Oliver's poem, however, is not about love, yet still has the "carpe diem" sense about it. Her poem seems to be a response to peoples' over-active lifestyles and to the idea that taking the time to enjoy nature is a waste and unproductive. Her argument is that we only have this one life, and by posing the question to the reader at the end, shows us just how uncertain and maybe even wrong the reader's life's direction is. My own personal views of life differs from both those of Catullus and Mary Oliver, in that life, to me, is the time we are allotted to perform a set duty/role. This role may not be pre-determined, but we all serve a purpose that we should attempt to accomplish. However love and nature and passion and everything else we can feel and see and know is not not worthwhile, it just doesn't define life completely.

Orz said...

Catullus 51 describes a life where it is full of lust. However, he cannot acquire that desire because it is forbidden. Near the end of his poem, he says that leisure destroyed kings and blessed cities, so one must take actions.
Catullus 5 also describes a life of desires. It also follows the "carpe diem", seize the day. Basically, instead of waiting for something to happen, one should take actions to make something to occur.
Mary's interpretation of life is that life is short, and all livings will eventually die. It is not how long one lived, but how one spent his life.
I believe that one should think how he's going to live rest of his life to his principle

unbuma said...

In Carmen 51, Catullus is stunned by Lesbia's beuaty. His life is filled with lust and desire. But he realizes he cannot always have want he wants and must continue living his life. In Carmen 5, as long as Catullus has Lesbia, he will live a happy life. He doesn't care what others think because life is too short to be unhappy throughout your whole life, so do the things you love, and forget the rest. In Mary Oliver's Summer Day, she describes life as carefree and she says you only get one life and it is a precious one at it. She says life is too short so do whatever you want to do and live your own life.

Jeep2 said...

In Carmen 51, I think that Catullus is wondering what a life would be like if a man loved a woman whom he knows he cannot have/would be difficult to ever touch. And so he sits in wonder at this woman he loves--wondering whether to waste his life away "pleasuring" in his fantasies or to grab life by its horns of doubt and live to the inevitable death that takes him at the end, which is what Carmen 5 says. Catullus is saying that life is short-lived and should be otherwise. He basically describes how he has made his decision to challenge the death of life by expressing all his emotions about Lesbia and how the two should 'dance like no one is watching.' Mary Oliver's poem brings the meaning of Carmen 51 and 5 together by describing how the person sees the grasshopper living its life, watching, wondering, admiring that the grasshopper is doing what it is doing with the little time it has to live, while he rests letting time pass by while wondering about random questions he has yet to find the answer to. On the other hand, he has already become a learned person by accomplishing all that he has, though, there is still much more out there to learn about. He knows that he still has much to learn before he dies and that he has wasted one day being idle, but in that one day, he realizes that he needs to start moving, like the grasshopper. It is time to start seizing the day!

Pinky said...

The concept of life in Catullus 51 is that life is consisted of only love and that the inability to express your love for that person is what fuels your passion for that person but it can also lead to your demise because you were too late. From the last paragraph of Catullus 51, one can conclude that idleness is a double sword. It increases your desire for a certain thing (in this case Lesbia) but it can also cause you to loss any chance of acquiring that thing and thus lead to your demise.
Catullus 5 may seem to have a similar message as Catullus 51 but it doesn’t. Catullus 5’s view on life is that its short and thus we should use every moment of it to fulfill our own desires but in a lawful manner. In other words we should live life to the fullest in a peaceful (not causing any resentment from others) manner.
In Mrs. Mary Oliver’s poem, she described life as a short and fragile thing that is consisted of very few things to do and thus we should become more aware of our life styles and etc.
I think all three of these poems have captured specific aspects of life but not life as a whole. However, when we piece the messages from all three of these poems together we will acquire the big picture. That life is short and fragile and that we should enjoy and live it to the fullest however, we should also become aware of the events around us and aware of our selves and not allow our desires to overcome our ability to chose from right or wrong and make the right choices. This is also my view of life.

Will Ravon said...

I think both Carmen 51 and 5 say life is about lust and love (especially involving women). Although, they also say life is short. Mary Oliver also says that life is short, but she also says that you should live life to the fullest. I think each person has one thing they are truly meant to do and that they should spend their life doing that one thing. Of course it may take a large portion of your life just to find that one thing. When you do find that one thing do it to the best of your ability and never stop.

srivatsanenator said...

In Carmen 51 Catullus is basically saying that he wants to be that man that he envies so much. He wants to listen to Lesbia talk and laugh. In Carmen 5 I think that all he wants to do is kiss her- forever. I think. In the poem by the lady in the field she wants to explore life and know everything and do everything before her life ends. This is where I think that the key part of life is in death. Without death life would be nothing. Basically I, Catullus and the lady with the Grasshopper fetish all agree that the purpose of life is to do what you want to do whether you want to hug a tree or kiss a girl as long as there is purpose there is a life. If you are living just because you are sucking air, I do not think that this is living at all.

tram192 said...

In Carmen 51 Catullus discusses life as wanting and needing. He talks about how he loves and want something he can't have. Life is always like that though. You want many things in which you can not obtain. Catullus discusses how it ruins great men. In Carmen 5 Catullus discusses how life is short and brief and we can die at any time so why not live it the way we want it? He's saying forget the thoughts of others and do what ever pleases you because life is short. Don't dweel on things, forget them and enjoy life cause you never know when it's going to end. I believe Mary Oliver is saying live life to the fullest but don't try to rush things. Just like the grasshopper enjoys the day little by little, we should enjoy the day little by little. Even though life is short sometimes you just need to stop and look at what's around you obseve the world and you might learn something. My definition of life is all of this combined wanting, needing, losing, loving, and making sacrafices.

hannaH said...

In Catullus' Carmen 51, he describes life in terms of Lesbia. He goes on and on about his lustfull feelings toward her and the urges and rushes she elicits. It is as if she is his life. He apparently spends much of his time dwelling on her attributes and qualities and how to get more of them pointed in his direction.
In Catullus' Carmen 5, life is all about love. This is more of his attempts to get Lesbia to direct her loving towards him. It seems like he is trying to convince her to seize the day, and seize him, too.
Mary Oliver seems to dwell more on nature and its infulence on her views of what matters in life. Her poem is very positive, relaying that we should not dwell on petty things that do not matter. We should not get stressed out about trivial things.
I don't really agree with Catullus as much, simply because I'm not all into that seduction thing, but I do agree with parts of Mary Oliver in that she is very positive, looking at the details of life, but not the trivial things. She says to seize life, but in a different, more rational way. I think that it is very wise to live life the best you can each and every day. There is no time to waste.

Will Ravon said...

I think both Carmen 51 and 5 say life is about lust and love (especially involving women). Although, they also say life is short. Mary Oliver also says that life is short, but she also says that you should live life to the fullest. I think each person has one thing they are truly meant to do and that they should spend their life doing that one thing. Of course it may take a large portion of your life just to find that one thing. When you do find that one thing do it to the best of your ability and never stop.

tram192 said...

In Carmen 51 Catullus discusses life as wanting and needing. He talks about how he loves and want something he can't have. Life is always like that though. You want many things in which you can not obtain. Catullus discusses how it ruins great men. In Carmen 5 Catullus discusses how life is short and brief and we can die at any time so why not live it the way we want it? He's saying forget the thoughts of others and do what ever pleases you because life is short. Don't dweel on things, forget them and enjoy life cause you never know when it's going to end. I believe Mary Oliver is saying live life to the fullest but don't try to rush things. Just like the grasshopper enjoys the day little by little, we should enjoy the day little by little. Even though life is short sometimes you just need to stop and look at what's around you obseve the world and you might learn something. My definition of life is all of this combined wanting, needing, losing, loving, and making sacrafices.

Will Ravon said...

I think both Carmen 51 and 5 say life is about lust and love (especially involving women). Although, they also say life is short. Mary Oliver also says that life is short, but she also says that you should live life to the fullest. I think each person has one thing they are truly meant to do and that they should spend their life doing that one thing. Of course it may take a large portion of your life just to find that one thing. When you do find that one thing do it to the best of your ability and never stop.

Kirro said...

Mary Oliver does what many poets have done, and explained life in terms of the small things. She asks what should she do besides watch the simple animals and insects. We as humans have created an incredibly complex society and stretched the meaning of life to its maximum. But even after all of this, life hasn't really changed. Everyone is still born, lives, and then inevitably dies. How you spend that time in between birth and death is not very important, as longs as life is enjoyed. If what you are doing now does not make you happy, you must stop and rethink everything, or you will die depressed and alone.
Catullus' intent is obviously not to introduce a new philosophy of life but to describe his passion for Lesbia. It is a case of carpe diem, as Catullus urges Lesbia to kiss him now, while it is still possible. While Mary Oliver focused on the simple parts of life, Catullus focuses on love. Even so, the meaning is the same. Do what you love doing, and do it before it is too late.

whereisyourboytonight said...

Catullus describes in Carmen 51 his love, and more importantly, his lust, for Lesbia. The sight of Lesbia drives him crazy, has drastic effects on him, but he loves every minute of it. Life is about enjoying the moments that drive you insane; those moments are what make life interesting. This can still be seen today; people are addicted to reality television shows, which are full of drama. I’ll admit, I’d rather have an exciting life full of both good and bad moments than a monotonous life full of decent moments. Catullus then moves on in Carmen 5 by describing exactly how he would enjoy his life. He asks for kisses, endless numbers of kisses. This indicates that love is perhaps the most exciting part of life. Life is short, and you might as well spend it enjoying your time with someone else. We only have one shot at making the best of our life, so everyone should enjoy every moment of life. Mary Oliver discusses the same issues in her poem. She asks, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” This raises the questions of how to enjoy you life and live it to the fullest. I hold the same views about life. It’s short, and we must learn how to enjoy it to its best. We have to learn to find joy in the bad moments, as well as the good. That makes life worth living.

chmathew said...

According to the Catullus of 51, life is full of lust and desire. Catullus saw Lesbia and fell in “love” with her and wanted her. In Carmen 5, he emphasizes the idea that life is short and should be lived to the fullest, so he wants to be with Lesbia regardless of what others may say. According to Mary Oliver, one only has a single precious life that he or she should use to the fullest. She says “Tell me, what else should I have done?” To me this means that one should regret not using your full potential before reaching the end that all are destined to meet.

shocka said...

In Carmen 51, Catullus expresses life as an emotional rollercoaster, advancing up and down through toils and dilemmas of living. Throughout Carmen 5, Catullus grasps the concept of life being brief, and the want and need to take risks and exploit every breath you're given to breath.

Mary Oliver touches base on both messages in Carmen 51 and 5. She studies the movement of a grasshopper, who is occupied in the gestures of everyday life. Oliver then realizes she does not know what gestures she is to be undertaking, as a human. She questions what more she could have accomplished in the short amount of time she was blessed with, and then asks her audience the same. I found it especially interesting that Oliver inquires where all living things originated in the first few lines. I am assuming that she is briefly tracing over the essence of why and how our being and existence is placed here on earth, which is the originating question of most all religions.

Life cannot easily be recapitulated in a few sentences. Life is enveloping the emotions it evokes and consuming all of its beauty. I think that the phrase "live life to the fullest" contains a harsh connotation in the sense that every action one takes is purely meant to benefit themselves. I tend to agree that life is a gift not to be abused, and working for others gives more satisfaction than the adverse.
"We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give."
-- Winston Churchill

Frank said...

I think that in Carmen 51, Catullus describes life as full of want. Catullus tells us of how he lusts for Lesbia, but how he will never have her. In the end he explains that leisure, or idleness, troubles us all; that leisure is a waste of time and that life should be spent doing better things than lusting over something that cannot be had. In Carmen 5, Catullus describes how life is short and brief and that one should live their life to its fullest and cherish every moment that one has. I think that in Mary Oliver's poem she is questioning what to do with her life, but implying that life is short and that you need to live it to the fullest. I believe that a life should be cherished and lived to its fullest, but not abused. I think living a good life means being able to leave a good mark on the world from what you have done while enjoying the life that you have been given.

Minerva said...

All of the poems have a degree of physical sense or tangibility to them. Catullus 51 is very vivid in the descriptions of his feelings upon seeing Lesbia, such as the darkness that covers his eyes and the liquid fire that consumes his body. Catullus 5 is focused on the physical sensation of kissing the woman he loves - he just wouldn't get enough of her, even if they shared hundreds and thousands of kisses. Mary Oliver's poem has a physical sense to it too, but not in the same romantic-passionate all-consuming way Catullus' do. She creates the feeling of holding another living creature in one's hands and playing in the grass, appreciating the world we live in, but also invokes a spiritual consciousness with the way she has spent enjoying a day of her life - with wide-eyed wonder and joy.
The Catullus of 51 says fervently that a life is defined by the fiery passion and spirit of love/lust. The Catullus of 5 says that a life is an opportunity to be with those that we care about, and therefore others' petty opinions are of no real consequence. Mary Oliver says that a life is being able to enjoy the simple natural pleasures of the infinite and amazing details.
I can't agree entirely that life is mostly physical passion, therefore I tend to be drawn more to Oliver's poem, but Catullus' true view of life is probably best represented through a broader scope of his poetry. However, he still does a good job describing the aspects he has covered in 51 and 5.

I can't beleive magister is a Florida Gator!!! said...

Carmen 51 describes Catullus as a love struck man that can not even function because he struck by Lesbia’s beauty. Her laughter robs him of his feelings, when Catullus looks at here he can not speak, and fire flows through his body. As love struck as he is he still is indecisive when he is talking to him self about being idle with the whole situation. To Catullus according to Carmen 51 life is encased in the infatuation that he has toward Lesbia.
In Carmen 5 He comes out saying: “Let us live, my Lesbia, and let us love…” In Carmen 5 Catullus’ life appears to be all about him and Lesbia being madly in love and not paying attention to others and their hearsay. They are living life in the now and living it to the fullest.
Mary Oliver talks about having only one life that often seems to short. She advises on taking in as much as possible and living it to the full capacity. She would probably enjoy Carmen 5 because Catullus is doing what she advises on, and he is living his life without being idle.

5ABIblood said...

Carmen 51 describes life as something that is full of passion and desire. In Catullus’s case, he passionately desires a woman named Lesbia. Catullus lets himself create an infatuation for Lesbia that he cannot shake off. In doing this, Catullus shows that some things life should be fought for, and you should not give up on something that you really desire. In Carmen 5, Catullus has obtained Lesbia and now all he wants to do is live his life to the fullest. In Carmen 5, Catullus believes that life is too short, and you should make the best of it for as long as you can. The poem by Mary Oliver shows that life is short and priceless. She portrays life as something not to be wasted, and to pursue all the things you want. Many people live their lives too seriously and never get a chance to do the things that they desire the most. I believe you should live your life to the fullest, and you should live as if you were to die tomorrow. My viewpoint about life is very similar to the saying “Carpe Diem.”

In_other_words said...

Life is simply made up of the elements of beauty, passion, feeling, and an overall wonder. In Catullus 51, Catullus writes of his desire for Lesbia, in which he cannot grasp onto the one thing in life he truly desires. In Carmen 5, the message of "carpe diem" is expressed in the way of intertwining passion with the feeling that life, indeed, is too short. Oliver's description of life presents to readers that you should live life to the fullest each day, but to also admire life's true beauty. So basically, Catullus is our modern Prince Charming, who gets swept away at one glance. Oliver, on the other hand, is more like Ferris Bueller in the theory that, "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it."

Eureka! said...

In Catullus 51, Catullus speaks of how lucky another man is to be able to spend time with Lesbia, Catullus' love. I think that when Catullus is not with Lesbia he feels dead inside. He is not alive unless he's with his love. In Catullus 5, life is living for the moment, loving and being loved. In the poem by Mary Oliver, she says that loife is short and fleeting and should be spent loving, learning, and living for the moment. I agree the most with the poet Mary Oliver.

Postransky said...

The Mary Oliver poem seems to agree with Catullus 5, in that they both say how life is too short and we all must die too soon. Catullus 51 tells us that idleness will destroy us and in Catullus 5 he tells us to live and love, so they both say the same thing in a way, but differently. The Oliver poem asks questions though. Who made this world, and what should we do in it? So Catullus' poems could answer one part of the Mary Oliver question; what should we do with our lives? Live, love, don't be idle, and love some more.

82 said...

In Carmen 51 Catullus describes how his life is a life of want. And also that his time of leisure and want of what he can't have is his trouble. In Carmen 5 Catullus focuses on living in the moment and not caring what others think about it. He describes how we should live this life to the fullest. According to Mary Oliver, life should be questioned and enjoyed. That maybe you might not have all the answers now, but to remember that you are only given one life to live and to make the most of it. I agree with Mary Oliver. I think that you go through life and may not have all the answers, but you should try to do the best with what you have.

jro said...

I personally believe that human life is a brief moment in the history of the world and that our life is composed of a series of choices that have a daily impact on us and determine whether or not we take advantage of all that life has to offer. I think this is what Mary Oliver is trying to say; that life only comes once and briefly, so you need to make the best of what you have and enjoy it to the fullest. Also, I think Catullus is in agreement, because in both Carmen 51 and 5 he places significant stress on living for each day, especially with Lesbia and her kisses, because once life is over you will sleep an eternal sleep. These views of living for each day show that they all are in agreement about what life is; they say that it is a very short time period in which humans are allowed to walk the earth and enjoy its opportunities and therefore each day should be precious and never wasted. I concur with these thoughts because I believe that we should never waste any of our God-given time and energy and that we should plant to do something extraordinary with our "one wild and precious life".

bri720hco said...

life.. you live, you laugh, you love, you cry, you fail, and you learn form it all. Most think that life is always about doing what is right and/or what is proper. In the end what will you get out of that. Sometimes you just have to do what you want because it makes you happy. Even if it means breaking the rules a little. Catullus notices this and doesnt care. He knows that he wants Lesbia. From the moment he saw her he knew he wanted her. Even if it ment breakign the rules. just liek one of my favorite quotes
“Dance as though no one is watching you. Love as though you have never been hurt before. Sing as though no one can hear you. Live as though heaven is on earth.”

hannah-is-cool said...

In Carmen 51, Catullus alludes to life as a cycle of urges and want, he vividly describes his intense need for Lesbia's love. Then in Carmen 5 he describes life as a setting sun. He compares it to the rising and the setting of the sun, pointing out the inability for life to once again rise after it has set, unlike the consistancy of our stars. Catullus seems to emphasize the importance of living for the moment, living to live.. and clearly to love. On the contrary, Mary views of the world seem to be more wandering and undefined. She asks questions about the origins of life and ponders what to make of such an overwhelming gift. She views life as simplicity at its finest. She apprciates such smalls wonders as the build of a grasshopper or the purity of a blissful walk alone. Life, of course, cannot be contained to such a blog, but to me life is what you make it. Some view life as a stepping stone to something of bewildering grandeur, others see it as a time to achieve, others strive to pursue happiness.. the ultimate utopian life. Each individual has a unique outlook towards life; each entirely correct in his or her own right. Whatever life means to anyone all that matters is living it. So often, people get caught up in the details of life and live life going through the motions. For Catullus, his passionate love was everything. For Mary, the unending possibilities and wonders of this life were completely alluring. To each their own. Life is meant to lived. So live it, chasing whatever dream and doing whatever it is that makes you happy and will make you happy in the end.

jimi said...

I think Catullus 51 is about getting the girl essentially and basically coming to the harsh realization. better explained in the Rolling Stones hit "you can't always get what you want" i believe he comes to understand this. But life in 51 is of material things all which have concrete characteristics. things to be obtained and lost in the blink of an eye.. just as his love obsession. Carmen 5 is a little different or a lot should i say.. its after that harsh realization that he finally makes a decision and decided to stick with something to the end. N.B. Vivamus, mea Lesbia <- poetic but striking. As for Oliver which of all three is my favorite maybe because its in English but nevertheless its about life as a time to explore and do he things you want to do.. fill it with wonder and escape the materialistic world. flee reality.. and live it up till its all gone. All three say a different thing about life a different aspect that when all combined form a very specific definition of life and its basically a mixture of the three ideas and its interesting to draw comparisons to all three. life is about realization. success and failure. bitter and sweet...wonder and fact.. and most importantly the quest for love.