Thursday, August 23, 2007

Primum Pensum, Autumno 2007: His Mind Through Your Mind?

Here we are with our first blog post of the new school year. I am starting the numbering over with Week 1--Fall 2007 so that we can more easily keep up with our weeks.

Recently on National Public Radio's "This I Believe" series, Canada's first poet laureate, George Bowering, made this comment:

"Sometimes when you are listening to a great jazz musician performing a long solo, you are experiencing his mind, moment by moment, as it shifts and decides, as it adds and reminds. This happens whether the player is a saxophone player or a bass player or a pianist. You are in there, where that other mind is. His mind is coming through your ears and inside your mind."

You can go here to read his entire "This I Believe" statement. It's not long, and I urge you to read the entire thing: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=12821079

Choose your favorite Catullan poem (thus far) and respond to Bowering's observation. Do you agree that by reading aloud a poem of Catullus that Catullus' thoughts and mind itself are moving through yours? What nuances can you give to your answer? Cite directly from your chosen poem with examples, whichever position you take on this question.

Have fun with this. I think Bowering makes a fascinating set of observations about what art is and how we interact with it.

Mr. P

22 comments:

anqi2 said...

I believe that Catullus is unique in writing poems in the fact that some of his sentences have a colloquial sense; it's as if he is talking through the poem, and the speech put into the poem is emitted once someone reads it aloud.

For example, in Catullus 8, the last five lines are filled with anguish about the break-up from Lesbia he recently experienced. The meter (choliambic/limping iambics), when read aloud and correctly, gives the sense that he is not only going through anger, but, as the name suggest, sorrow and remorse, as if his heart is "limping" as he says the words.

Catullus also adresses himself in third person in poem 8. In other poems for Lesbia, like 51 and others from the "Catullus Lesbiam Amat" group, he uses first person. I think he uses this to emphasize that he has come to terms with himself. In poem 8, the third person thing is used to show that Catullus is not, in fact, himself.

But then again... that's just what I think.

khushbu2 said...

Although this isn’t my favorite poem from Catullus, Carmen 5 is one poem that sticks out in my mind as one in which I felt and heard Catullus in it. This is the poem where Catullus is professing the extent of his love of Lesbia and urging her “Vivamus…atque amemus” ( Let us live and let us love). You can feel his true love for Lesbia as he requests her to love him back. Then he talks about the many kisses they should share, “da mi basia mille, deinde centum, dein mille altera, dein secunda centum, deinde usque altera mille, deinde centum (Give me a thousand kisses, then another hundred, then another thousand, then a second hundred, then yet another thousand more, then another hundred). The anaphora used for the amount of kisses shows Catullus’ passion for Lesbia. I agree with Bowering’s observation because the unique language mixed with literary devices such as repetition in a poem quide the reader into the writer’s mind. In this case, you can feel the love and passion as you read aloud.

Vance224 said...

As one takes in an artist’s work, the observer is certainly seeing that artist’s mind at work. Art is nothing more than a snapshot of an artist’s frame of mind at a particular time. This fact is very clear in Carmen 5. In the beginning of the poem, Catullus is writing of living with Lesbia and confounding the schemes and plots “senum severiorum / of severe old men”. Then, after line 6, Catullus seems to begin to daydream about being with Lesbia and kissing her and her kissing him. This extensive number of kisses then returns to his original thought of confounding the old men.

hope2 said...

I think that in the best of Catullus's poetry, it is not so much his mind moving through mine as that his words awaken a response in my mind, since they reflect a common experience or understanding.

For example, the love poems did not mean much to me, since I have never been in love. But the death poems did have resonance, because that is something I have experienced. Poem 101 uses its imagery to evoke the shared feeling that death is final and the pain of being torn away from someone. This is summed up by his closing words "atque in perpetuum, frater, ave atque vale."

Therefore, by sharing his mind and emotions, Catullus makes a connection with readers, so that his words are filled with their emotion and experiences.

Ryan1 said...

So Mr. Bowering makes an interesting point. When someone creates a work of art spontaneously today, whether it be music, poetry, prose, the observer is able to feel and experience what the artist is feeling. Many of Catullus poems have a sort of "gut wrenching" feeling to them. This is what I perceive Mr. Bowering is talking about.
One example of this occurring is in poem 5. Listing to Catullus preform this in Rome thousands of years ago would of certainly touched mens' hearts and been felt by all. The choice of wording at the begging of the poem and the use of the meter brings to life the feelings of Catullus. By using the meter and posistion to bring focus on the more important words.
Line 1: Vivamus and amemus
Line 2: rumores and severiorum
Line 3: omnes and assis
Just that translated is enough to make since of what Catullus is saying because of ferocity of the words.
Translated: Let us live Let us love Let us all old men's rumores be less then pennies
He uses this same technique through most all of his Lesbia amat poetry. Truly Catullus was felt, and can still be felt today by anyone who hears it.

XRoSeSrReD317X said...

My favorite poem so far would be carmen 5. When it comes to this particular poem, I do believe that it is necessary to actually read it out loud to understand the message of the poem. You can really comprehend the mind of Catullus or at least try to comprehend his mind when you take a look at how he writes the poem. The words he uses, and the position of those words come from the deepest places of his mind as well as his heart. For instance, when he talks about the whole idea of "Vivamus mea Lesbia, atque amemus,rumoresque senum severiorum
omnes unius aestimemus assis," "let's live, my Lesbia, and let's love, and let us consider the rumors of old men worth one penny," he seems to be professing the idea of loving and living, as well as forgetting about what people are saying about them. If you don't read this out loud, then you won't understand the message Catullus is sending out. He is telling Lesbia to stop worrying about what other people are thinking. He just wants them to continue to love each other. By reading this part of the poem out loud, you can really get into the mind and heart of Catullus because you can understand how he feels about Lesbia.

Vikas2 said...

In my opinion, when you read a Catullan poem out loud, you feel what Catulus feels inside of you. You can feel the love and desire or the hatred or animosity or the sorrow and pain that Catullus feels in the poem that he writes. If the poem is about love or sorrow, you begin to feel the same way that Catullus does in the poem. This happens when you read a Catullan poem out loud, rather than silently.
One of my favorite poems which can describe this is Carmen 5. Carmen 5 describes life as something that is full of passion and desire. In Catullus’s case, he passionately desires Lesbia. Catullus lets himself create an infatuation for Lesbia that he cannot shake off. When you read this poem out loud, you can feel how much Catullus loves Lesbia and how much he wishes to be with her. In lines 7 – 8 it says, “da mi basia mille, deinde centum, dein mille altera, dein secunda centum” (Give me a thousand kisses, then another hundred, then another thousand, then a second hundred). When you read these lines of poetry out loud, you can see the repetition of the word “dein” which gives more emphasis on how much he wants Lesbia.

lauren2 said...

Through studying Catullus' work, I do not believe that one can argue that his poems are not personalized and meant to envoke emotions in the reader. I have always found Catullus 70 to be a favorite of mine, because he almost has a sarcastic tone when he twists the mood in the last two lines. Catullus is first saying how his woman would perfer no one else to him, then claims that women often lie. Her words are "in vento et rapida scribere oportet aqua," to be written in the wind and rapid water.
Catullus seems to merge many emotions into the poem's four lines: anger, resentment, scepticism, all with a cynical tone. For me, Catullus' reaction to this situation would much resemble my own, which allows me to relate to his writing and share common experiences.

Ian said...

Carmen 5:

soles occidere et redire possunt:
nobis cum semel occidit brevis lux,
nox est perpetua una dormienda.
(suns are able to fall and return: / when that brief light has fallen for us, / we must sleep one perpetual night.)


Death is the one constant of life. We all must die. We have our time out on this stage of a world and exit it when our scene is done. Catullus' words strike me - the powerful imagery of rising and falling suns compared with the fleeting frailty of human life makes for some intense juxtaposition. We have but one brief light before the crushing permanence of night - how will we use it? Catullus wishes to spend his brief light kissing Lesbia... for now.

hyung2 said...

When Catullus wrote these poems, they were meant to be read out loud in public. It is quite possible for the poems of Catullus to synchronize with our mind by reading aloud.

For example in Catullus 5. He writes about old men's gossips."rumoresque senum severiorum omnes unius aestimemus assis"// "let us consider all the rumors of old men to be worth just one penny." The assonance of s sound enables the listeners to visualize old men hissing and spreading rumors. Also in the same poem, he tells Lesbia to love and live together. From this line, the listeners to feel his love for Lesbia. I think reading Catullus poems aloud is important to feel the passion for Lesbia, his deceased brothers, and other "res".

jane2 said...

I agree that by reading aloud a poem of Catullus, Catullus' thoughts and mind itself move through the reader. Carmen 8 is a poem in which I felt Catullus as I read it. By reversing the stresses of the last few beats, the poem's choliambic meter, also called limping iambics, helps to illustrate Catullus' unstable emotional state after breaking up with Lesbia. The echoing of line 3 ("fulsere quondam candidi tibi soles" / the stars once shined bright for you) in line 8 ("fulere vere candidi tibi soles" / the stars truly shined bright for you) offers a sense of dreamy recollection. In line 11 ("sed obstinata mente perfer, obdura" / but endure with a stubborn mind, endure), by using the words "perfer" and "obdura" which both mean "endure," Catullus stresses to himself that he must detach himself from his love affair. By using the repetition of the questions in future tense in lines 15-18 ("quae tibi manet vita? quis nunc te adibit? cui videberis bella? quem nunc amabis? cuius esse diceris? quem basiabis? cui labella mordebis?" / What life remains for you? Who will now go to you? To whom will you seem beautiful? Whom will you love now? Whose will you be said to be? Whom will you kiss? Whose lips will you bite?), Catullus illustrates his uncontrollable anger and recalls his memories in the past with Lesbia. In addition to the literary devices, Catullus' use of universal themes (love, breaking up, having to let go of the past, and moving on with life in Carmen 8) helps the readers relate to Catullus' thoughts and feelings.

jrog08 said...

My favorite Catullan poem thus far is Carmen 101 for a variety of reasons. First, in response to Bowering’s observation, I do believe that people are able to connect to the artist of a particular poem, painting, song or story and this is why people create art in the first place, so that they can share their thoughts and emotions with other people and to better understand themselves. The artist wishes to show the world how he or she feels about a particular subject, in this case the passing of Catullus’ brother, and by sharing this feeling we are able to see into the mind of the creator of that work of art and connect with him in a way that everyday interaction could never have revealed. I can connect to Catullus’ pain in the phrase, “Quandoquidem fortuna mihi tete abstulit ipsum.
Heu miser indigne frater adempte mihi” or “Since fortune bore you away from me. Oh, miserable brother, snatched unfairly from me” because I think of my brother and the indescribable pain I would feel were I to lose him, which allows me to connect to Catullus’ suffering all the more and see his thoughts as he is writing them on his paper. Also, when he says the immortal words “accipe fraterno multum manantia fletu, atque in perpetuum, frater, ave atque vale” or “accept them, flowing with many brotherly tears, and into eternity, brother, hail and farewell”. This haunting phrase connects with me because I think of the loss of my brother, or some other family member, and feel Catullus’ longing for his brother and I can completely understand his suffering if I lost my brother. His pain is transcendent throughout the poem and is easily relatable for us to understand his loss, which is why I connect with him and am able to see his pain.

pranav2 said...

I believe Bowering’s statement is very deep and insightful. Many of Catullus’ poems create a sort of connection between Catullus and the reader. The poems are very personal, and he speaks about feelings found inside everyone. This is especially true of the Catullus Lebiam amat poems. In these he pours out his heart to Lesbia and the words are very passionate and moving. I felt that the most emotional and touching poem was Carmen 5. Right at the beginning Catullus brings out his emotions and feelings toward Lesbia: Vivamus, mea Lesbia, atque amemus (Let us live and let us love, my Lesbia). He kind of asks Lesbia to show him the same love that he shows her. The part when he talks about all of the kisses “da mi basia mille, deinde centum, dein mille altera, dein secunda centum, deinde usque altera mille, deinde centum” emphasizes even more his love for Lesbia by using anaphora. Reading this poetry aloud seems to open the door into Catullus’ mind and heart.

Yayu2 said...

I somewhat agree with Mr. Bowering's idea of how we can experience someone else's life through his/her works. When Catullus's poems are read aloud with the right pronunciation and expression, I do believe that I can hear the feelings he had when the works were first written, but I think it also has to do with the fact that I can connect personally to what he's saying.

From the beginning, I had always taken a liking to poem 5. The poems about his life or themes in general are not as exciting or interesting to me as poem 5 has always been. I'm not a guy or have I felt jealousy because I can't win the heart of the guy I love, but I am going through some similar problems right now, and I have felt love. Catullus's requests in the poem bring out emotions that had been hidden deep within me. I can almost feel exactly the feelings of want, desire, and pleasure coursing through my body. In lines 1-3, he wrote "vivamus, mea Lesbia, atque amemus, rumoresque senum severiorum omnes unius aestimemus assis!" (let us live, my Lesbia, and let us love, and let us consider the rumors of old men to be worth one penny). Catullus's desire and want of Lesbia is clearly shown here. He doesn't care about what others think and places the value on winning Lesbia. Then in lines 7-9, "da mi basia mille, deinde centum, dein mille altera, dein secunda centum, deinde usque altera mille, deinde centum" (Give me a thousand kisses, then another hundred, then another thousand, then a second hundred, then yet another thousand more, then another hundred). The anaphora of dein gives more emphasis on exactly how much he wants Lesbia and pleasure. Not only can I relate to what he's trying to say, but I can clearly feel and see how the words illustrate Catullus's feelings.

Also, in this poem, he addresses himself in 1st person, which shows that he realizes what he wants, and he is going to be himself and obtain it.

Timmy2 said...

Latin student love poem 85 for it's simplicity, but I believe it is a poem that is often overlooked. Catullus uses these single couplet to convey the complex nature of love and the emotions involved with it. He conveys deep, personal feelings in a way that everyone understands. The line of the poem sums up the idea succinctly: “sentio, sed fieri sentio et excrucior.” The feeling is almost indescribable. He does not know why he feels this way, but he does and is tortured.

The elegiac meter has a rhythmic feel to it making the reader feel the confusion Catullus feels. You can feel Catullus thinking about Lesbia and constantly switching back and forth between feelings and deep hatred and aching love. Along with this meter, Catullus adds a series of elisions so words slur together, adding to the sense of confusion and despair. Just as Bowering states, you can feel the same feelings Catullus feels just by listening to the words.

Roseanne2 said...

My favorite poem so far would be carmen 5. When it comes to this particular poem, I do believe that it is necessary to actually read it out loud to understand the message of the poem. You can really comprehend the mind of Catullus or at least try to comprehend his mind when you take a look at how he writes the poem. The words he uses, and the position of those words come from the deepest places of his mind as well as his heart. For instance, when he talks about the whole idea of "Vivamus mea Lesbia, atque amemus,rumoresque senum severiorum
omnes unius aestimemus assis," "let's live, my Lesbia, and let's love, and let us consider the rumors of old men worth one penny," he seems to be professing the idea of loving and living, as well as forgetting about what people are saying about them. If you don't read this out loud, then you won't understand the message Catullus is sending out. He is telling Lesbia to stop worrying about what other people are thinking. He just wants them to continue to love each other. By reading this part of the poem out loud, you can really get into the mind and heart of Catullus because you can understand how he feels about Lesbia.

Will Ravon said...

I don't think just reading aloud one of Catullus's poems would allow you to think like he does. I think in order to think like Catullus you must know to whom he is refering to in each poem and why he is saying what he is saying. In some poems it is clear what he is thinking becuase he is writing about a particular thing, like love. In Carmen 7 he writes almost exclusively on love.

quam magnus numerus Libyssae harenae
lasarpiciferis iacet Cyrenis
oraclum Iovis inter aestuosi
et Batti veteris sacrum sepulcrum;
aut quam sidera multa, cum tacet nox,
furtivos hominum vident amores:
tam te basia multa basiare
vesano satis et super Catullo est,
quae nec pernumerare curiosi
possint nec mala fascinare lingua.

Which translates:
"You ask how many kisses of yours, Lesbia, would be enough and more for me. As great as the number of Libyan sands that lie at silphium producing Cyrene between the oracle of sweltering Jupiter and the sacred tomb of old Battus, or as many as the stars that, when the night is silent, see the secret love affairs of men: For you to kiss so many kisses and more than enough for crazy Catullus, which neither the careful are able to count nor an evil tongue bewitch."

So it is easy to know what Catullus is thinking in this poem since he talks about all the kisses that are too much for him and how that could almost never happen.

Sanjay2 said...

Although it is one of the poems that we have not yet covered as a class, Catullus 84 is one of my new favorite poems. The poem is about person named Arrius who pronounces all of his words incorrectly. The poem itself describes his speech as,"Hoc misso in Syriam requierant omnibus aures:" which translates to,"With he having been sent to Syria, everyone's ear found a relief." When read aloud the poems sound during the first half of the poem contains many harsh ch's,c's,and qu's. These sounds suggest to the reader the heavy rasping sound of Arrius's speech. This is different from the second half of the poem which contains much softer sounds. After Arrius leaves Catullus says that,audibant eadem haec leniter et leviter," or that they were hearing the same things more softly and lightly. The use of the l sound itself suggests a softer and more soothing tones as opposed to the rasping c's in the first half of the poem.

Magister Patricius said...

While Carmen 51 isn’t necessarily my favorite poem (that honor might go to Carmen 109), it struck me as appropriate for the purpose of viewing someone else’s feeling inside your own mind. Carmen 51 is one of the two Catullan poems written in Sapphic Strophe, so before modern readers get to it, Catullus has already borrowed a style and content matter which he admired from someone else’s writing. Also, the content is very graphic and physical for the reader. It’s hard not to experience a little of one’s own breathlessness “nihil est super mi vocis in ore” or tingling in the limbs “tenuis sub artus flamma demanat”. Catullus always draws his readers into the poem, but the characteristic intense physical and emotional description imbedded in 51 allow vivid visualization of the scene. To paraphrase Bowering, when those lines echo in my head, I know they resonated the same way with someone else, namely a lovesick Catullus paralyzed in the presence of his desire.


Posted for Kelsey2 by Magister Patricius

Will Ravon said...

In Catullus 7 I can imagine what Catullus is thinking and feeling; mainly because I know what he is talking about and to whom and what he is refering. This poem says,

"Quaeris, quot mihi basiationes
tuae, Lesbia, sint satis superque. quam magnus numerus Libyssae harenae
lasarpiciferis iacet Cyrenis
oraclum Iovis inter aestuosi
et Batti veteris sacrum sepulcrum;
aut quam sidera multa, cum tacet nox,
furtivos hominum vident amores:
tam te basia multa basiare
vesano satis et super Catullo est,
quae nec pernumerare curiosi
possint nec mala fascinare lingua."

Which tranlsated means,
"You ask, how many your of kisses for me, Lesbia, would be enough and too much. As many as the number of Libyan grains of sand that lie at silphium-producing Cyrene between the oracle of sweltering Jupiter and the sacred grave of ancient Battus; or as many as the stars that, when the night is quiet, see the secret love affairs of men: For you to kiss so many kisses and too much for crazy Catullus, which neither the careful are able to count nor an evil tongue bewitch."

In this poem I it feels as though I am thinking what he is thinking and feeling what he is feeling because I understand what he is writing about. He writes about how many kisses would be too much for him and that no one can count how many that number is because it is so vast and unthinkable. Catullus feels the love he has for Lesbia that burns inside of him and that there is no human way for him to stop loving her.

khushbu2 said...

In the theme of “Amici et Inimici” Catullus views humans as people who betray their friends. In Carmen 12, Catullus describes the pain he feels when Asinius Maricinus steals his napkins, which were given to him as a gift, “haec amem necesse est ut Veraniolum meum et Fabullum” (It is necessary that I love these things As I love my little Veranius and Fabullus). Catullus has invited him for dinner and Asinius repays him by stealing a meaningful gift. In Carmen 30, Catullus is neglected by his friend when Alfenus “quae tu neglegis ac me miserum deseris in malis” (Like this deed you overlook: deserting me here wretched in my woes). Alfenus ignores him when Catullus needs his friend the most, after a breakup with Lesbia. In Carmen 40, Catullus is betrayed by a friend because Ravidus “voluisti amare meos amores” (you wished to love my love). Ravidus started to like someone that Catullus was in love with. Catullus shows several instances friends have hurt him, ranging from thievery, abandonment, to complete betrayal. He is portraying the negative side of these people who call themselves his friends. I also think that his poetry works both ways because Catullus is also writing these cruel poems about their wrongdoings. Catullus is being caddy and he knows that people will read his poetry and the characters of his “friends” will be tainted.

82 said...

I would have to agree to George Bowering's comment in the case of Catullus. I feel that when you read Catullus' work you can feel his mind and you feel the pain/joy that Catullus feels. My favorite poem would have to be poem 51, and this is a good example especially because of Catullus' content. This poem shares about a situation that most people have felt before. Catullus tells about Lesbia and how much he likes her and also the jealousy he feels for the guy sitting next to her and talking to her. "ille, si fas est, superare divos,
qui sedens adversus identidem te
spectat et audit" which means "That man, if it is right to say, seems to surpass the gods,
who sitting opposite to you repeatedly looks at you
and hears" I think this poem lets you experience his mind because its such a common situation.