Saturday, 3 June 2017

Carmina Burana 93: the maiden's garden.

Inspired by a short holiday in Germany and having visited various castells and ruins, I am reading now a book about daily life in the Middle Ages `Alltagsleben im Mittelalter’ by Otto Brust.  I am not a mediaevalist and don’t ask me the finesses of all the feuds, wars, royal lineages and so on, but I like to read books about the Middle Ages now and then. In the chapter on women, Borst remarks that in the Carmina Burana a woman is just an object for male desire and satisfaction of lust. True, I think, but on the other hand there is some poetic convention in these love poems.

When in a poem the garden of a virgin is mentioned, sited on an island, one doesn’t need to be an expert in Freudian analyses to realise that the poet is of course not talking about a real garden.

Carmina Burana 93

Hortum habet insula    virgo virginalem.
hunc ingressus, virginem    unam in sodalem
spe robustus Veneris    elegi principalem.

Letus ergo socia    elegantis forme
– nil huic laudis defuit,    nil affuit enorme –
cum hac feci geminum    cor meum uniforme.

Est amore dulcius    rerum in natura
nichil et amarius    conditione dura:
dolus et invidia    amoris sunt scissura.

hortum virginalem : a virginal (i.e. untouched) garden
insula: best taken as ablative: (in) insula, given that it is the correct reading, as the text has the meaningless infula.
ingredior ingressus: to enter
virginem unam in sodalem spe robustus Veneris elegi principalem = spe rubustus Veneris elegi virginem unam in sodalem principalem:  strengthened by hope of love, I chose this girl alone as my principal companion.
Veneris: conjecture for virginis in the text.
letus (= laetus) + abl.: rejoicing in
forma: beauty (forme = formae)
desum: to be absent
adsum: to be present
enormis: (out of the norm) wicked
cum hac feci geminum cor meum uniforme: with her I have made my single heart double
rerum natura: the world
nichil = nihil
amarus: bitter
conditio, onis (f.): agreement, law, condition (clas. Lat. condicio)
dolus: fraud, malice
invidia: envy, grudge
scissura: division, split

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