Alright, So here’s the translated verse that I did today. First, in the original, and then in my more artful, more free translation.
The meadows are full of flowers, these begin appearing.
Where these are brought for all to see, plants with pleasure.
Grasses and shoots, put winter to rest.
In time the spring gets strong and increases.
The meadows are full of flowers, as they start appearing.
These are brought where all may see, plants their pleasure bringing.
Grasses, shoots both rising through, making winter turn in.
Spring growing strong in due time, bringing renewed bird din.
If you want a refresher on the original Latin song, check it out here.
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Wrestling with Words
So there it is, but it wasn’t as easy as the first verse. This one had a few words that really threw me. “incunda” (which I take as a form of “incoho,” meaning to begin, start upon, turn to) was especially tough since I don’t really know how to fit it into the sentence. Nor am I entirely sure of its meaning. But, given the context, it seems to be the best fit.
The other two words that gave me trouble, “aspectu” (to look at/sight/catch sight of) and “delectu” (joy, take pleasure in, etc.), weren’t so difficult to define, but instead were tough to place within the sentence. This difficulty arises for me because I’m not entirely familiar with all of the verb forms once things get as complicated as passives in tenses other than the past and simple present.
However, I am sure that they are verbs since there aren’t any Latin nouns or adjectives that end with a “u” after being conjugated. There are “u” stem words, as there are in Anglo-Saxon, but those have “u” in the stem and do funny things with that. They don’t tend to keep the “u” in anything but the nominative case. And besides all of that, the rules of one language tend not to apply to another in such a direct way.
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In any case, those discrepancies in tense make for a bit of an awkward translation which I’ve tried to smooth over in the dolled up version. This led me to a few liberties in my quest to come out with something that rhymes, and these are most noticeable in the last four lines.
Instead of winter just being “put to rest” I’ve changed it to winter being forced to “turn in.” A kind of synonym for put to rest, but with more of a shift-worker kind of tone. And given the regularity of the seasons, it seems like that’s appropriate since I’m working with a traditional personification of the seasons.
In the final couplet of the poem, I mixed it up a bit, and actually replaced the statement about the “increases” of spring with a line about the birds returning. This helps make the whole verse singable to the original melody and completes the rhyme pattern of ABCB for each four lines. I also think that the side by side combination of “bird” and “din” makes for a neat aural pun on the word “burden.”
After all, spring is coming back and so work does need to resume in a medieval agrarian society: the land needs to be cleared of the debris that winter leaves behind, fields need to be tilled and planted, and animals need to be transitioned from winter treatment to summer treatment.
Winter was also no walk in the park for those in the past (and those still without indoor heating/plumbing or refrigeration today), but the workload was comparatively less field-based, or at the least more household-based.
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Of course, if you take issue with any of my generalizations here, or if you want to suggest an interpretation of one of the words with which I struggled feel free to do so in the comments.