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NaPoTraMo 3: Everyone Drinks

April 3, 2010

Today’s translation is from the medieval Carmina Burana, a collection of songs best known for containing “O Fortuna” (“To Fortune”) as famously set to music by Carl Orff. Orff also scored the rest of the Carmina, but they are far less famous owing to being generally less epic.

Some of them are, however, very funny, as one might expect of a collection largely composed by vagabonds, satirists, and students. The meat of the Carmina is all about the drinking, singing, gambling and seduction. The following translates two verses of “In taberna quando sumus” (“When we are in the tavern”), an ode to the universal pleasures of alcohol.

The original rhymes in couplets; the translation is somewhat looser, attempting to fit some rhyme in without altering the order of the drinkers named.

Drinks the lord and drinks the lady,,
Drinks the soldier, drinks the churchman,
Drinks the man and drinks the woman,
Drinks the housemaid and the footman;
Drinks the nimble, drinks the lazy,
Drink the dark and drink the pale;
Drinks the constant, drinks the fickle,
Drinks the learned, drinks the lay.

Drinks the sickly and the mean,
Drinks the stupid and the exile,
Drinks the boy and drinks the elder,
Drinks the prelate and the dean;
Drinks the sister, drinks the brother,
Drinks the crone and drinks the mother,
Drinks the housewife, drinks the husband,
Drink a hundred, drink a thousand!

Translates verses 5 and 6 of “In taberno quando sumus”; Latin text can be found here.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Seamus permalink
    April 3, 2010 11:06 pm

    I was going to request the rarefied air of Latin, after the Old English yesterday and Thursday. Then you go and do some Latin, and what is it? A list of people who like a drink! Degenerate, that’s what I call it.

    It’s been a race against time to get mine done, as I only got in from my aunt’s place an hour ago. All this verse translation, as I thought it might, has got me thinking up original verse again, and tomorrow or the next day my poem for the day will be one of my own, titled “My Love Is on a Steam Boat”. But that one’s not quite finished yet, so today’s lines are from Racine.

    Hippolytus visits Aricia, the last descendant of the Pallantides. Her life was spared by Theseus but he banned her from marriage because her son, if she bore one, would be bound by honour to kill Theseus. Hearing that Theseus is dead, Hippolytus decides immediately to revoke this ban, motivated in part by his own love for “la charmante Aricie”.

    Madame, before you go:
    I know that you have wished to have a different life.
    My father lives no more: it is as I suspected;
    Only cruel death, extinguishing his light
    Could keep it hidden from our eyes for such a time.
    Atropos at last has cut the living thread
    Of Hercules’s friend and partner and successor.
    I know that in your hatred, which cares not for his virtues,
    You hear without regret these names I give to Theseus.
    One hope there is that tempers my sadness and bereavement.
    Now I can lift from you the cruel interdiction
    Placed on you by my father: long have I deplored it.
    You shall be sovereign over your life, over your heart,
    And in this land of Troezen, the land of Pittheus
    My ancestor, the rule of which comes now to me,
    Whose people with one voice acclaim me as their king,
    I will make you as free and freer than myself.

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