Jackson I know you and Pollard look down on science.
Pollard Is it a science? Ovid said it was an art.
Jackson Oh - love! You’re just ragging me because you’ve never kissed a girl.
Pollard Well, what’s it like, Jackson?
Jackson Kissing girls is not like science, nor is it like sport. It is the third thing when you thought there were only two.
Housman Da mi basia mille, deinde centum.
Pollard Catullus! Give me a thousand kisses, and then a hundred! Then another thousand, then a second hundred! - yes, Catullus is Jackson’s sort of poet.
Jackson How does it go? Is it suitable for sending to Miss Liddell as my own work?
Pollard That depends on which Miss Liddell. Does she go dum-di-di?
Jackson I very much doubt it. She’s the daughter of the Dean of Christ Church.
Pollard You misunderstand. She has to scan with Lesbia. All Catullus’s love poems are written to Lesbia, or about her. ‘Vivamus, mea Lesbia, atque amemus…’
Jackson I mean in English. Girls who kiss don’t know Latin.
Pollard Oh, in English. Come on, Housman. ‘Let us live, my Lesbia, and let us love, and value at one penny the murmurs of disapproving old men…’
Housman ’And not give tuppence for the mutterence of old men’s tut-tutterence.’
Pollard He’s such a show-off.
‘Suns can set and rise again: when our brief light
is gone we sleep the sleep of perpetual night.
Give me a thousand kisses, and then a hundred more,
and then another thousand, and add five score…’
Jackson But what happens in the end?
Housman In the end they’re both dead and Catullus is set for Moderations. Nox est perpetua.
- Tom Stoppard, The Invention of Love