Thursday, 24 March 2016

Carmina Burana 145: spring dance.

The problem with mediaeval lyrics is not so much the syntax, but the vocabulary, though purists get nervous breakdowns seeing the unclassical grammar. This song is a good example: the syntax is not difficult, but ever heard of laudila or lupilulat? Besides, one needs to be an ornithologist for this song. Noteworthy are also the onomatopoeic words denoting the sound the birds make. However, it is not a description of nature as such, but an invitation to dance and sing in blooming spring. The variations on this theme are almost endless in mediaeval lyrics. No wonder: winter was a time of hardship and lent was awaited eagerly.

Carmina Burana 145

Musa venit carmine;
dulci modulamine                            melody
pariter cantemus!                            equally
ecce virent omnia:                          to become green
prata, rus et nemus.                        meadows; field, grove (nemus, nemoris, n.)

venit: no distinction was made between short and long i in the middle ages, but the perfect tense seems likely.

Mane garrit laudila,                        in the morning; to chatter; lark
lupilulat acredula;
iubente natura                                 obeying
philomena queritur                         nighingale ;  queritur de ; to complain over
antiqua de iactura.                          loss

laudila or alaudila is a diminutive of alauda `alouette’, a Celtic loanword.
lupilulat is an onomatopoeic word `to sing lupiluta’
acredula is an unknown  bird and some editors read cornicula `little crow’
antiqua iactura: (Philomela = Philomena)

Hirundo iam finsat,                         swallow: to twitter (finsare)
cygnus dulce trinxat                        swan:  to be shrill (trinsare)
memorando fata,                            memorando = memorans
cuculat et cuculus   
per nemora vernata.                       verno : to be green

memorando  fata: the swan sings at best when about to die.
cuculat et cuculus: in many languages the name of the cuckoo is formed after the sound it makes.

Pulchre cantant volucres;
terre nitet facies                              terre = terrae; to shine
vario colore
et in partum solvitur                       and opens/dissolves in giving birth
redolens odore.                               to smell with

in partum solvitur: the image of the earth as mother, giving birth to nature in spring.

Late pandit tilia                                to spread out; lime-tree
frondes, ramos, folia;                     leafy branch (frons): branch
thymum est sub ea                         
viridi cum gramine,                         green; gras (gramen)
in quo fit chorea.                             dancing and singing

Patet et in gramine                         to spread out
iocundo rivus murmure;                 brook
locus est festivus.
ventus cum temperie                      moderate temperature
susurrat tempestivus.                     to whisper; seasonable

The last stanza completes the picture of the locus amoenus (lovely spot), a common theme in mediaeval lyrics.

Here the song by the Mediaeval Baebes. It is easy to imagine these babes dancing in the locus amoenus!