Sunday, 14 February 2016

Boethius book 1, m 7: clear your mind.

When in 1944 Helen Waddell (1889 – 1965) had almost finished the first draft of a manuscript for a second book of Mediaeval Lyrics, she began to have mental fall outs and lapses of memory, probably  due to brain strokes or dementia preacox. The book was published posthumously in 1976 with the effort of friends and scholars detecting sources and filling now and then a gap in the translation
This poem by Boethius concludes book 1 of his Consolatio Philosophiae, written in his cell and waiting for his death. Philosophia, a majestic woman, is speaking to him and encouraging him to clear his mind from passions in order to see the truth. The poem starts with three nature comparisons: like stars are hindered by dark clouds in spreading their light and the clear sea is made muddy by a storm and the course of a mountain river is sometimes stopped by a rock having strolled down from the top, so our mind is cloudy when still filled with passions.
But whereas Boethius in his imprisonment still had his mind as a resource and escape, Hellen Waddell was in her final years a prisoner of her own and once brilliant mind, with no possibility of escape.

Boethius,  Consolatio Philosophiae 1, m.7
(Meter: Adonic  - u u | - -)

nubibus atris                     ater: dark
condita nullum                 conditus: hidden
fundere possunt                fundo: to pour out, shed, spread
sidera lumen.
si mare uoluens                acc. !
turbidus Auster                 Auster: South Wind
misceat aestum,                 stirs up till a storm
uitrea dudum                     vitrea (unda): clear  / dudum: just, recently
parque serenis                    par + dat: equal to, resembling
unda diebus
mox resoluto
sordida caeno                    filthy by dissolved mud (caenum)
uisibus obstat,                   hampers (clear) vision
quique uagatur                  vagor: to roam, wander
montibus altis
defluus amnis
saepe resistit                     resisto: to stop, stand still
rupe soluti                         by a rock (rupes f.), a dam (obex f.) of a fallen stone
obice saxi
tu quoque si uis
lumine claro
cernere uerum,                  cerno: to discern / verum : the truth
tramite recto                      take your mountain path (calles) on a straight side-path(trames)
carpere callem:
gaudia pelle,                      pello: to cast out
pelle timorem
spemque fugato                fugato: 2nd sg fut imperat act
nec dolor adsit,
nubila mens est
uinctaque frenis                subdued by reigns (frenum)
haec ubi regnant.              haec: gaudia, timor et spes

Translation by Helen Waddell:

Stars hidden by dark clouds
  Can give no light,
If the South Wind stirs up the rolling sea.
  The wave that once was like crystal
  Clear as a shining day
Now fool with loosened mud
  Decieves the light.
The stream that strayed
  Down from the mountain top
Is dammed by fallen fragments of loose chalk.
And you, if you would look clear-eyed on truth,
  Would take the mountain track,
Be rid of joy and fear and hope and pain.
  The mind is fogged
  Held in with bit and reign
  When these have power.

More Latin Lyrics: From Virgil to Milton (posthumous, edited by Dame Felicitas Corrigan, 1976)

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