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Tuesday, January 25, 2005

De mutationibus bloggae

(For some reason am convinced that 'blog' must be feminine in Latin. Or has fr Reginald Foster come up with some echt nova latinitas term yet?! [That sentence was obviously macaronic, not mere Mischsprache...])

An edifying poem, brought to mind by sudden template changes, and continually by the Scottish weather which first inspired it.

I seik aboute this warld onstable
To find a sentence conveniable,
Bot I can not in all my witt
Sa trew a sentence find of it,
As say it is dissavable.

For yistirday I did declair
How that the sasoun soft and fair
Come in als fresche as pacok feddir.
This day it stangis lyke ane eddir,
Concluding all in my contrair.

Yistirday fair up sprang the flowris,
This day thai ar all slane with schouris;
And foulis in forrest that sang cleir
Now walkis with ane drerie cheir,
Full caild ar bayth thair beddis and bowris.

So nixt to symmer wyntir bene,
Nixt eftir confort cairis kene,
Nixt dirk mydnycht the myrthfull morrow,
Nixt eftir joy ay cumis sorrow:
So is this warld and ay hes bene.

William Dunbar, fl.1500-1513.

To which might be added, 'Nixt eftir lyf cumis the dede [death]', a sentiment Dunbar often voices; and so I append the last verse of possibly his most famous poem, the 'Lament for the Makars':

Sen for the ded remeid is none,
Best is that we for dede dispone,
Efter our deid that lif may we:
Timor mortis conturbat me.


Low-quality translations:

I seek about this world unstable / To find a suitable judgement, / But I cannot in all my wit / Find a truer judgement / Than to say it is deceitful.

For yesterday I did declare / How the season soft and fair / Came in as fresh as a peacock feather. / Today it stings like an adder, / Bringing it to a conclusion quite in opposition to me.

Yesterday the flowers sprang up fair[ly], / Today they are all slain by showers, / And birds in the forest that sang brightly / Now wake with a dull mood; / Their beds and bowers are so very cold.

So next to summer is winter, / And sharp sorrows after comfort, / After dark midnight is the joyful morn, / Sorrow always comes after joy - / So is this world, and ever has been.


Since there is no remedy for death,
It's best to prepare for death,
So that we may live after death:
The fear of death disturbs me.