Monday, 5 March 2018

Carmina Burana 138: spring!

Poem 138 of the Carmina Burana celebrates the coming of spring. It is full of cliché’s: flowers, the nightingale, young maidens, forests and of course lust and love. But what is offered as a simple song in editions without a critical apparatus, is the result of much editing. I have taken the text as presented by the edition of Hilka and Schumann (Berlin, 1941) and added some critical notes. As a bonus I have included 138a, which is a Middle High German poem.

Carmina Burana 138

Veris leta facies                     ver veris (m): spring; leta = laeta
mundo propitiatur,                has mercy for
hiemalis acies                        acies (f.): sharpness
victa iam fugatur.                  now defeated is driven off
in vestitu vario                      vestitus us (m.): dress
Flora principatur,                  principor: to rule
nemorum dulcisono              nemus oris (n.) wood; sweet sounding
que cantu celebratur.             Flora que (= quae)

Flore fusus gremio                 Florae; pouring out; gremium: lap
Phebus novo more                 Phebus = Phoebus: the sun
risum dat, hoc vario               risus us (m.): laughter
iam stipate flore.                    In this variety of crowded flora
Zephyrus nectareo                 western breeze
spirans it odore.
certatim pro bravio                in rivalry; for the prize of victory
curramus . . . . . . ore!
Litteratos convocat                students
decus virginale;                      decus oris (n.): beauty
laicorum execrat                    curses (execrat = exsecrat, subj: decus)
pectus bestiale.                      pectus oris (n.) breast
cunctos amor incitat,
per iubar estivale;                  iubar is (n.): beam, of summer
Venus se communicat            declares herself
numen generale.                    deity of all
Citharizat cantico                  accompanies
dulcis philomena;                  nightingale
flore rident vario
prata iam serena;                   bright meadows
turba salit avium                    a mass of birds hops
silve per amena;                     through the delightful things of the forest
chorus promit virginum         brings forth
iam gaudia millena.               thousenfold

Some textual notes.
1,2 propitiatur: propinquatur (to come)  has been suggested as a better reading
2,3 hoc: some editions follow the reading hac
2,4 may be the point after flore must be deleted
2,8 the lacuna has been variously filled: in amore, cum ardore, et honore.
3.4 pectus: pecus (herd, crowd) seems a better reading
3,6 and 3,8: some editions have the order of these lines reversed
3,8 ut numen generale? Another reading is nomen


In liehter varwe stat der walt,
der vogele schal nu donet,
div wunne ist worden manichvalt;
des meien tugende chronet
senide liebe; wer were alt,
da sih div çit so schonet?
her meie, iv ist der bris geçalt!
der winder si gehonet!

In bright colour stands the forest,
the voice of birds now sounds,
desire has become multiple:
the art of May crowns
longing love; who is so old,
that he doesn’t care for this season?
Lord May, you have got the prize!
Winter must be taunted!

Song 138 of the Carmina Burana is used by Orff in his setting, with the exception of strophe 3.

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