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
conditio, onis (f.): agreement, law, condition (clas. Lat. condicio)
dolus: fraud, malice
invidia: envy, grudge
scissura: division, split