A MEDIEVAL STUDENT CHANT


Res sunt numquam ut vldentur
Neque veluti debentur
Non tam magna, non tam parva,
hic et illic tamquam larva,
Vivunt sed sunt semiviva
Metu mortis recidiva.
Arboris sumus nos frondes
Iam decutiendi omnes,
Cum recurrit bruma brevis
Et ero ut cinis levis
Vitae praemia relicturus
Non in caelum abiturus,
Perditus ut Palinurus,
Visam Orci regna lata
Et in in sede certa fata,
Comitantibus catervis
Linguis, mentibus protervis
Omnes qui erant amici
Omnes balatrones vici,
Casulas omnes furentes
Redivivas et virentes,
Pocula et omnes iocos,
Severis remotos locos.
Apud Ditem dites simus,
Qui afflicti hic fuimus.
Laetus nunc est qui est imus.

The fairly expert eye might well asign this to the latter part of the 13 th century, classifying it as an example of what is somewhat oddly called "Macaronic Poetry". One might think of Orff's libretti, an old now, but once new use of Latin in expressings ideas no self-respecting Roman of the Augustan period would have tolerated, or even understood.

But the eye can be fooled, since this was typed on a Royal finger-banger in a cramped college office late one afternoon in the spring of l963, and shown to various literary colleagues for dating. You can guess by what margin of centuries they erred.

William Harris
Prof. Em. Middlebury College
www.middlebury.edu/~harris