Carmina Burana

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Welcome, O life! I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience and to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race.
James Joyce
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Carmina Burana is a collection of Latin (or occasionally Middle High German) songs written in and around the later 12th century. It is probably best known through Carl Orff's re-setting of some of the poems.

See also Archpoet.

  • Fortune rota volvitur:
    descendo minoratus;
    alter in altum tollitur;
    nimis exaltatus
    rex sedet in vertice
    caveat ruinam!
    • The wheel of fortune spins:
      One man is abased by its descent,
      The other is carried aloft;
      All too exalted sits the king at the top –
      Let him beware ruin!
    • No. 16, "Fortune plango vulnera", line 17; translation from Edward Handyside Genba Kanri (1997) p. 3.
  • O Fortuna,
    velut luna
    statu variabilis.
    • O how Fortune, inopportune,
      Apes the moon's inconstancy.
    • No. 17, "O Fortuna", line 1; translation by David Parlett. [1]
  • Sors immanis
    et inanis,
    rota tu volubilis,
    status malus,
    vana salus
    semper dissolubilis,
    obumbrata
    et velata
    michi quoque niteris;
    nunc per ludum
    dorsum nudum
    fero tui sceleris.
    • Fate, as vicious as capricious,
      You're a wheel whirling around:
      Evil doings, worthless wooings,
      Crumble away to the ground:
      Darkly stealing, unrevealing,
      Working against me you go:
      For your measure of foul pleasure
      Bare-backed I bow to your blow.
    • No. 17, "O Fortuna", line 13; translation by David Parlett. [2]
  • Fas et nefas ambulant
    pene passu pari.
    • Right and wrong they go about
      Cheek by jowl together.
    • No. 19, "Fas et nefas ambulant", line 1; translation from Helen Waddell Mediaeval Latin Lyrics ([1929] 1933) p. 189.
  • Hei, quam felix transitus amoris ad soporem,
    sed suavior regressus ad amorem!
    • Oh sweet the passing o'er from love to sleep,
      But sweeter the awakening to love.
    • No. 62, "Dum Diane vitrea", line 32; translation from Helen Waddell The Wandering Scholars ([1927] 1954) p. 170.
  • Olim lacus colueram,
    olim pulcher exstiteram,
    dum cygnus ego fueram.
    miser! miser!
    modo niger
    et ustus fortiter!
    • Once I inhabited lakes,
      Once I stood out, beautiful,
      When I was a swan.
      Wretched! Wretched!
      Now I am black and burning fiercely.
    • No. 130, "Olim lacus colueram", line 1; translation by Rebecca Frost Davis. [3]
  • Respondit Caritas;
    "homo, quid dubitas,
    quid me sollicitas?
    non sum quod usitas
    nec in euro nec in austro,
    nec in foro nec in claustro,
    nec in bysso nec in cuculla,
    nec in bello nec in bulla.
    de Iericho sum veniens,
    ploro cum sauciato,
    quem duplex Levi transiens
    non astitit grabato."
    • Then Love replied,
      "Man, wherefore didst thou doubt?
      Not where thou wast wont to find
      My dwelling in the southern wind;
      Not in court and not in cloister,
      Not in casque nor yet in cowl,
      Not in battle nor in Bull,
      But on the road from Jericho
      I come with a wounded man."
    • No. 131, "Dic, Christi veritas", line 13; translation from Helen Waddell Mediaeval Latin Lyrics ([1929] 1933) p. 195.
  • Potatores exquisiti,
    licet sitis sine siti,
    et bibatis expediti
    et scyphorum inobliti.
    • To you, consummate drinkers,
      Though little be your drought,
      Good speed be to your tankards,
      And send the wine about.
    • No. 202, "O potatores exquisiti", line 1; translation from Helen Waddell Mediaeval Latin Lyrics ([1929] 1933) p. 185.

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