Friday, 26 April 2013

Carmina Burana 75: enjoy youth as long as you can!

I found this song in a book with Mediaeval Latin texts. It has been set on music by the American composer David Comte (born 1955) and by Tóth Péter (no information found, but my Hungarian is non-existent). At the age I have now reached, I must have been a very old man in the eyes of the anonymous poet, full of diseases and only intended on serious things. Fortunately times have changed! Still, I wish I had read this poem 35 years ago….

Carmina Burana 75
Omittamus studia,
dulce est desipere,
et carpamus dulcia
iuventutis tenere!
res est apta senectuti
seriis intendere,
. . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . .
Velox etas preterit
studio detenta,
lascivire suggerit
tenera iuventa.

Ver etatis labitur,
hiems nostra properat,
vita damnum patitur,
cura carnem macerat.
sanguis aret, hebet pectus,
minuuntur gaudia,
nos deterret iam senectus
morborum familia.         
Velox etas preterit etc.

Imitemur superos!
digna est sententia,
et amoris teneros
iam venantur retia.
voto nostro serviamus!
mos est iste numinum.
ad plateas descendamus
et choreas virginum!
Velox etas preterit etc.

Ibi, que fit facilis,
est videndi copia,
ibi fulget mobilis
membrorum lascivia.
dum puelle se movendo
gestibus lasciviunt,
asto videns, et videndo
me michi subripiunt.       
Velox etas preterit etc.

desipio: to act foolishly
tenere = tenerae
tener: soft, tender
res est apta: it is fitting for
seria: serious things
velox: swift, rapid
etas preterit = aetas praeterit
aetas aetatis (m): time, age, lifespan
praeter –eo: to pass by
lascivio: to frolic
suggero: to suggest
ver veris (n): spring
labor lapsus sum: perish
damnum: injury
patior: to suffer
areo: to be dry
hebeo: to be dull
minuo: to diminish
morborum familia: apposition to senectus
morbus: disease
Imitemur superos! An allusion to Ovid’s Metamorphoses, where the gods are passing their time with love affairs. This is also the mos numinum – the habit of the gods
et amoris teneros / iam venantur retia: and the nets of Amor are already hunting after the youthful.
platea: a broad way
choreas: both dance and song
Ibi, que fit facilis, / est videndi copia =  there (at the plateas and choreas), where it easily happens, is an abundance to see,. (In Mediaeval Latin que is used for quod, quae, quam and quo)
lascivia: playfulness, frolicsomeness, jollity
asto videns, et videndo / me michi subripiunt: I stand watching (them), and by watching they (the girls) steal me away from me (i.e. I am completely enchanted by them and lose my senses)

Translation and adaptation by Hellen Waddell:

LET'S away with study,
Folly's sweet.
Treasure all the pleasure
Of our youth :
Time enough for age
To think on Truth.
So short a day,
And life so quickly hasting
And in study wasting
Youth that would be gay !

'Tis our spring that slipping,
Winter draweth near,
Life itself we're losing,
And this sorry cheer
Dries the blood and chills the heart,
Shrivels all delight.
Age and all its crowd of ills
Terrifies our sight.
So short a day,
And life so quickly hasting,
And in study wasting
Youth that would be gay !

Let us as the gods do,
‘Tis the wiser part:
Leisure and love's pleasure
Seek the young in heart
Follow the old fashion,
Down into the street !
Down among the maidens,
And the dancing feet!
So short a day,
And life so quickly hasting,
And in study wasting
Youth that would be gay !

There for the seeing
Is all loveliness,
White limbs moving
Light in wantonness.
Gay go the dancers,
I stand and see,
Gaze, till their glances
Steal myself from me.
So short a day,
And life so quickly hasting,
And in study wasting
Youth that would be gay !

A musical setting by David Conte (It follows a slightly different text.)

And a setting by Peter Toth: