Moon Fruit ["Dum Diane vitrea" Third Stanza] (Latin)

Abstract
Translation
Recordings
A Fruitful Opening
That Spontaneous Spark
Closing

{Handle it, but don’t hold it, the poem counsels. Image found on a blog called Imprint.}

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Abstract

Some of the virtues of sex are indirectly extolled.

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Translation

“Oh how fruitful is that remedy of drowsiness,
Which tempestuous cares and sorrows sedates!
So long as it steals up to sore open eyes,
themselves a sweet joy of love to have.”
(“Dum Diane vitrea” Stanza 3)

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Recordings

The entire poem will be recorded once it’s all been posted.

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A Fruitful Opening

The opening pun of this week’s stanza is, thankfully, something that works in both languages.

“Felix” may not unerringly translate into “fruitful” but it’s one of many possibilities, just as one could say that there are many English synomnyms for “fruitful.” In any case, this is about as subtle as it gets, since the rest of the poem is just a celebration of sex.

Turning back to the pun in line one, though, it’s possible that the play on the word fruitful/felix, could be a reference to the fertility rate of having sex during this waking interval.

But even something like the Domesday book didn’t keep records of when children that women managed to carry to term were conceived down to the hour, so the potency of the hours between midnight and second sleep isn’t really something we can check.

It’s possible, though, that since the two hour window of wakefuless would be the best time for sex from a social/scheduling point of view (one of the few times you wouldn’t be toiling away at your daily labour, eating, or, well, sleeping), that this is billed as the ideal time.

After all, it’s not like that was the only time that medieval people knocked boots. Any time at which they could gain a private moment they’d do it, just as we do. There’s no particular evidence that I can cite for that, but it’s definitely something that just stands to reason.

With that sort of sexual freedom from a temporal standpoint, it makes sense that an authority like the Church would try to suggest an ideal time for sex.

It’s a cold view of what is through-and-through a love poem, but since the “Dum Diane vitrea” was written in Latin, and Latin was the language of the Church and the educated (who were educated by the Church), it’s not outside of the realms of the probable that this poem is a propaganda piece aiming to keep sex in (or move it to) a set time.

This interpretation of stanza three is also supported by the idea that Abelard may have written the whole of the “Dum Diane vitrea.” Having been a victim of wild passions with his student, Eloise, and winding up castrated for his pleasures, he’d be the perfect person to get to sit down and write a stirring love song about how sex should be kept in the appropriate place. Make that appropriateness cosmic, and you’ve got a powerhouse on your hands.

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That Spontaneous Spark

Once we get to line three, things heat up a bit further.

At this part of the stanza we get the conditional “So long as” (“Dum”). So, though the exclamation effectively closes the statement that covers lines one and two, we also have to consider sex something that sneaks up on a person.

In other words, it can’t be a cold duty between a married couple (assuming that those are the people the poem addresses), but rather something spontaneous.

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Closing

Check back here on Thursday for the rest of Wiglaf’s mourning, and the return of the cowardly thanes!

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