Catullus in the Kingsway

March 16, 2019 1 Comment

Here comes Tommo the Teeth
Mr White, the dentist’s dream.
Flashes ‘em at every man jack,

In the courtroom he sits,
An intern for the defence team.
While Counsel jerks the jurors’ tears,
he just grins.

In the crem up at Morriston,
a mum weeps for her dear boy,
her one and only.
But he just grins.

Whatever he’s up to,
he grins.

It’s a disease.  But not, my lad,
a cool one, not a City look.
So, Mr Tommo, let me give you
a Word of Advice.

If you were a Cardiff boy,
blown in from Brecon or Nantyglo,
capel-reared in Carmarthen,
or fattened up on Cowbridge pies,
a Cwm Tawe hick, sunburnt and goofy,
or like me a Sais from over the Severn,
or, to be honest,
anyone using water to wash their teeth,
I’d still prefer it if you didn’t flash.
There’s nothing dumber than a witless grin.

But the truth of it is
you come from up Blaen-y-parc.
In Blaen-y-parc they rise at dawn
and piss.  And with that pee
they wash their teeth and their raw-red gums.
So, Mr Tommo, we can do the sums.

The brighter the shine on your dentures, you punk
The more of your piss we can tell you’ve drunk.

C Egnatius Maximus

Catullus, poem XXXIX

Egnatius, quod candidos habet dentes,
renidet usquequaque. Si ad rei ventum est
subsellium, cum orator excitat fletum,
renidet ille; si ad pii rogum fili
lugetur, orba cum flet unicum mater,
renidet ille. Quidquid est, ubicumque est,
quodcumque agit, renidet.  Hanc habet morbum,
neque elegantem, ut arbitror, neque urbanum.
Quare monendum est te mihi, bone Egnati.
Si urbanus esses aut Sabinus aut Tiburs
aut parcus Umber aut obesus Etruscus
aut Lanuvinus ater atque dentatus
aut Transpadanus, ut meos quoque attingam,
aut quilubet qui puriter lavit dentes,
tamen renidere usquequaque te nollem,
nam risu inepto res ineptior nulla est.
Nunc Celtiber es: Celtiberia in terra,
quod quisque minxit, hoc sibi solet mane
dentem atque russam defricare gingivam,
ut quo iste vester expolitior dens est,
hoc te amplius bibisse praedicet loti.

‘Say farewell, Catullus’ (Cy Twombly)

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