Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Versus de Cuculo: for May Morning

Today - at last - it's warm and sunny and, on my early morning walk across the fields with the dog, heard the cuckoo in the nearby woods. 
Thereby making my posting of the following verses somewhat redundant:

from Versus de Cuculo 

Plangite nunc cuculum, cuculum nunc plangite cuncti, 
ille reccssit ovans, flens redit ille, puto. 
opto tamcn, flentcm cuculum habeamus ut ilium, 
ct nos plangamus cum cuculo pariter. 
plange tuos casus lacrimis, puer inclite, plangc, 
et casus plangunt viscera tota tuos. 
si non dura silex genuit tc, plange, precamur, 
te memorans ipsum plangere forte potes. 
dulcis amor nati cogit deflcre parentem, 
natus ab amplexu dum rapitur subito. 
dum frater firatrem gennanum perdit amatum, 
quid nisi idem faciat, semper et ipse fleat. 
tres olim fuimus, iunxit quos spiritus unus, 
vix duo nunc pariter, tertius ille iugit. 
heu fugiet, fugict, planctus quapropter amarus 
nunc nobis rcstat, cams abit cuculus. 
carmina post ilium mittamus, carmina luctus, 
carmina deducunt forte, reor, cuculum. 
sis semper felix utinam, quocunque recedas, 
sis memor et nostri, semper ubique vale. 

Alcuin (c. 735 – 804)

The following translation by Helen Waddell is from her Mediaeval Latin Lyrics:

Wail for the cuckoo, everywhere bewail him, 

Joyous he left us : shall he grieving come? 

Let him come grieving, if he will but come again, 

Yea, we shall weep with him, moan for his moan. 

Unless a rock begat thee, thou wilt weep with us. 

How canst thou not, thyself remembering? 

Shall not the father weep the son he lost him, 

Brother for brother still be sorrowing? 

Once were we three, with but one heart among us. 
Scarce are we two, now that the third is fled. 
Fled is he, fled is he, but the grief remaineth ; 
Bitter the weeping, for so dear a head. 
Send a song after him, send a song of sorrow, 
Songs bring the cuckoo home, or so they tell. 
Yet be thou happy, wheresoe'er thou wanderest. 
Sometimes remember us. Love, fare you well. 

Benjamin Britten's 'Cuckoo!' sung by the Choir Of Downside School, Purley with Viola Tunnard - and Britten himself.

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