Thursday, 21 January 2016

Janus Secundus: are my kisses too sensual?

Janus Secundus (The Hague 1511-1536) is a Dutch humanistic writer who despite his early death left a large number of poems of amazing quality. Most famous is his Liber Basiorum `book of kisses’, a collection of 19 poems on the theme of kissing.  Catullus is never far away in these poems.
The object of his kisses is Neaera, of course not her real name, if real at all.
In this poem Janus is afraid of what others, especially older (and secretly jealous!)  old men will say of his kissing. Neaera feels less ashamed and right she is!

Basium 11

Basia lauta nimis quidam me iungere dicunt,
      qualia rugosi non didicere patres.
Ergo, ego cum cupidis stringo tua colla lacertis,
      Lux mea, basiolis immoriorque tuis,
anxius exquiram quid de me quisque loquatur?
      Ipse quis, aut ubi sim, vix meminisse vacat.
Audiit, et risit formosa Neaera, meumque
      hinc collum nivea cinxit et inde manu;
basiolumque dedit, quo non lascivius umquam
      inseruit Marti Cypria blanda suo;
et, 'quid,' ait, 'metuis turbae decreta severae?
      Causa meo tantum competit ista foro.'

basia iungere:  to connect kisses, to kiss repeatedly, intensely
lautus:  wet, sensual
nimis: too
rugosus: wrinkled  (as sign of old age)
cupidus: longing, desirous
stringo strinxi strictum: to draw tight
collum: neck (colla: poetic plural)
lacertus: (upper) arm
basiolum: little kiss
immorior: to die in
exquiro exquisivi exquisitum: to inquire
Ipse quis, aut ubi sim, vix meminisse vacat: who or where I am, there is hardly time to remember
audiit = audivit
rideo risi risum: to laugh
hinc..inde: from both sides
cingo cinxi cinctum: to encompass
lascivius: more playfully
insero inserui insertum:  to insert, give
Marti Cypria: though married to Vulcanus, Venus and Mars were lovers.
blandus: caressing, enticing
decretum: judgement
Causa meo tantum competit ista foro: this case is only suitable for my court!


Gustav Klimt, The Kiss (1907 1908)

A poetic translation by George Ogle (1704-1747, edited by Wallace Rice (Chicago 1901)