Lines on a Wanton's Door, by Catullus

Lines on a Wanton's Door

CATULLUS. Hail door! By husband loved and father too,
With Jupiter's good blessing may'st thou thrive,
Thou door! Who once did kindly service do
For Balbus when the old man was alive,
And it is said that after he had died,
And when thy mistress was once more a bride,
Thou didst again with ill intention do
Most sorry dirty jobs; so let us know
Why thou art changed, for 'tis reported so
That now thy loyalty no more doth hold
For that same lord whom thou didst serve of old. THE DOOR. Now I can softly say, as I do trust
To please my lord Cæ cilius as I must,
'Tis not my fault, although 'tis said to be,
No one can say that aught's been done by me
That is not right, and yet the people will
Lay to my charge all kind of mischief still;
If aught comes out as done amiss, they cry,
'Tis all your fault, you naughty door, oh fie! CATULLUS. This brief assertion's not enough for me,
Speak plainer, so that all may know and see. THE DOOR. How can I? No one asks or cares to know. CATULLUS. I do, so don't delay the facts to show. THE DOOR. Well, in the first place it is false, I say,
That she a virgin was upon that day,
When she passed through my portals, not that she
Her husband's love too soon had proved, for he
Had lost his manhood's vigour, but 'tis said
The father filled his own son's marriage bed,
Tainting the house, whether that passion's might
Urged his dark soul, or that he deemed it right,
Knowing the weakness of his feeble son,
Some stronger man should loose his fair bride's zone. CATULLUS. Deed worthy of a father, nobly done!
A father makes a cuckold of his son. THE DOOR. Nor is this all that Brixia boasts to know,
My loved Verona's mother, where doth flow
The yellow Mela with its gentle rill
'Neath the high peak of the Cycnæ an hill;
But for Postumius an unlawful love,
And for Cornelius too, her breasts did move.
But, door, how know you this? Some one will say,
Fixed to his post you cannot stir away
From your lord's threshold, nor the talk of men
Can hear, the house to ope and shut again
Is all that you, a door, to do are wont.
But I have heard her secretly recount
Full often to her serving maids alone
All the dark shameful deeds that she has done,
And she would mention by their names all those
Of whom I spoke, for she could ne'er suppose
That I had tongue to speak or ears to hear.
One other, too, she spoke of, but I fear
His name to tell, lest his eyebrows red
Should pucker up in wrath; thus much he said,
He's a lank man to whom some long dispute
About a spurious birth once caused a suit. - Catullus