If Ever, Anyone, Anywhere, Essay Example

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In this paper I’ll try to show two distinct emotions that the poet expresses. I will cite three lines from the above-titled poem in the English translation assigned to us, although the lines are not consecutive. One line will contain poetic hyperbole, which I will define here as a literary expression that uses exaggeration or excess to achieve an effect or to make a powerful point.

First emotion: astonishment, as expressed in line 4: the soul is astonished. To me, the effect of the emotion of astonishment is powerfully increased by the soul, rather than his soul, which would match the use of he in for what he knows will not happen. So Catullus strengthens the emotion by taking it from a person and giving it to the whole concept of a soul. By using the rather than his, Catullus is saying that everyone would feel the same effect. This is the part of the poem I actually liked best because I think many readers will miss it.

Hyperbole, line 6: an event dearer than gold.  This is a serious, not playful, exaggeration because no quantity of gold is given. It’s not an event dearer than an ounce of gold, which would be too little, or a pound, which would be too much. It’s just dearer than gold, period. Just like today, in ancient times gold was the most valuable of all metals. But I still think the effect would have been even stronger if Catullus had written an event dearer than diamonds. I think it sounds better in English, but the problem is that it may not have sounded right in Latin.

Second emotion: happiness, as shown in line 10: White day in the calendar! This is at first a puzzling, even awkward expression, and it is not a common one in English. But you can see what the poet meant by imagining if it read Black day in the calendar! That would clearly mean unhappiness. So we are free to assume that the poet meant that he was extremely happy.

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