“I HATE AND I LOVE.” I encountered Catullus in my first weeks in college. I took a one-quarter Latin course devoted entirely to the poems of Catullus. Catullus is a young person’s poet. Many of his poems are intense love poems. At sixteen, I didn’t know much about love, but I knew about intensity.

The intensity is shown in poem 85, which is only two lines long:

Odi et amo. Quare id faciam fortasse requiris.
Nescio, sed fieri sentio, et excrucior.

The first three words are: “I hate and I love.”

The whole poem is translated in this wikipedia entry as:

I hate and I love. Perhaps you ask why I do this?
I do not know, but I feel it happen and I am torn apart.

The last word—excrucior— refers to the agony of crucifixion and could be translated “I hang upon the cross”.

Clive James makes only a one word reference (in the next to last line) to poem 85: “excruciating”.

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