Monday, 17 June 2013

Carmina Leodiensia 4: in praise of spring!

The faculty of letters at Groningen University finds it necessary to do away with books – books are so 2012. They have once a month a sale: 1 euro for one book and 5 euros for 6 books, no matter condition or original price. My collection of books has again increased. To be honest, it is not the idea of the staff of the library of letters, but of the managers above them, who have never read a book, but do have some MBA grade. They think that all is on internet now…
It is the same managers’ mentality of the board of this university, which this year has cut down the staff of Scandinavian and Slavonic languages by a half and eliminated the studies Finnish and Hungarian. The only chair for Sanskrit won’t be filled after the retirement of the sitting professor during this year. He refuses to have a festive reception for his retirement, offered by that very same board. Well, let’s stop making myself angry; I better turn to poetry.
One of the books I bought is Walther Bulst, Carmina Leodiensa (Heidelberg, 1975).  Never heard of it, but it is Latin, so I bought it. This book is an edition with commentary of the 8 anonymous songs contained in the Leodiense manuscript. This manuscript is from the 11th - 12th century. Strange enough, Bulst does not say where this manuscript is, but as this booklet is a very specialist study, he probably thought his readers knew it. A number of these songs are only known from this manuscript and one of them is the song below.
It is a simple song which describes the passion of love during spring – a very common theme in mediaeval poetry.

Laus verne temporis.

Vernum tempus est amenum
et amoris melle plenum;
quicquid est in mundo rerum
novum facit ac serenum.

In hoc uere uernant flores,
quia tellus dat humores;
puellarum nunc dolores
risus petunt et amores.

Iam qui amat uel amatur
illud petut quo letatur,
et si locus umquam datur,
trahit palpat osculatur.

vernus: of spring, spring—
amenus (amoenus): lovely, pleasant
melle = melleae from melleus: belonging to honey, honeysweet
novum facit ac serenum: I suspect that se must be understood in this sentence.
In hoc uere uernant flores: vere from ver spring, but I think vere `truly’ is also implied.
verno: to blossom
tellus –uris (f): earth
humores: in classical  Latin umor. This is an interesting word: umor means fluid and it this context it refers to the four fluids which were thought in ancient Greek medicine to constitute human temperaments and health. Originally it was the general term for classifying these four fluids, but we see here the development to the modern meaning of humour in the sense of something joyful.
puellarum dolores: because in wintertime they sat inside
risus –us (m): laughter
peto petivi/petii petitum: to strive for
letatur = laetatur
locus: opportunity
trahit palpat osculatur: an effective asyndeton which describes the lover coming close: draws nearer, touches softly, kisses.

I thought I was the first one to put this poem on internet, but someone has been ahead of me. This link contains a translation:

PS. This book has not been digitalized on internet, at least not in open access. Thus far the idea that all is on internet…

1 comment:

  1. Splendidum carmen!

    Bestaat er ook een lijst van boeken die bij deze misdaad tegen de geletterdheid betrokken zijn?