Friday, March 08, 2013


Vinum Bonum et Suave

"A Sequence in Praise of Wine," in John Addington Symonds, Wine, Women, and Song: Mediaeval Latin Students' Songs. Now First Translated into English Verse, with an Essay (London: Chatto and Windus, 1884), pp. 136-137:
Wine the good and bland, thou blessing
Of the good, the bad's distressing,
Sweet of taste by all confessing,
    Hail, thou world's felicity!
Hail thy hue, life's gloom dispelling;
Hail thy taste, all tastes excelling;
By thy power, in this thy dwelling
    Deign to make us drunk with thee!

Oh, how blest for bounteous uses
Is the birth of pure vine-juices!
Safe's the table which produces
    Wine in goodly quality.
Oh, in colour how auspicious!
Oh, in odour how delicious!
In the mouth how sweet, propitious
    To the tongue enthralled by thee!

Blest the man who first thee planted,
Called thee by thy name enchanted!
He whose cups have ne'er been scanted
    Dreads no danger that may be.
Blest the belly where thou bidest!
Blest the tongue where thou residest!
Blest the mouth through which thou glidest,
    And the lips thrice blest by thee!

Therefore let wine's praise be sounded,
Healths to topers all propounded;
We shall never be confounded,
    Toping for eternity!
Pray we: here be thou still flowing,
Plenty on our board bestowing,
While with jocund voice we're showing
    How we serve thee—Jubilee!
There are many versions of the Latin. Here is one (perhaps the one used by Symonds, who omitted the fourth stanza), as printed in Gaudeamus! Carmina Vagorum Selecta in Usum Laetitiae, ed. R. Peiper (Leipzig: B.G. Teubner, 1877), pp. 17-19 (I've added a comma after the second line):
1. Vinum bonum et suaue,
bonis bonum, prauis praue,
cunctis dulcis sapor, aue
    mundana laetitia!
Aue color uini clari!
aue sapor sine pari;
tua nos inebriari
    digneris potentia!

2. O quam felix creatura,
quam produxit uitis pura!
omnis mensa fit secura
    in tua praesentia.
O quam placens in colore,
o quam fragrans in odore,
o quam sapidum in ore,
    dulcis linguae cingula.

3. Felix homo te plantauit,
qui te uinum nuncupauit;
contra talem qui potauit
    nulla sunt pericula.
Felix uenter quem intrabis,
felix lingua quam rigabis,
felix os quod tu lauabis
    et beata labia!

4. [Aue sospes in modestis,
in gulosis mala pestis,
post amissionem uestis
    sequitur patibulum.
Monachorum grex deuotus,
omnis ordo, mundus totus
bibunt ad aequales potus
    et nunc et in saeculum.]

5. Ergo uinum collaudemus,
potatores exaltemus!
non potantes confundemus
    in aeterna saecula.
Supplicamus: hic abunda!
per te mensa fit fecunda,
et nos cum uoce iucunda
    deducamus gaudia!
As is well known, this is a parody of a sequence to the Blessed Virgin Mary, in Analecta Hymnica Medii Aevi, Vol. LIV (Leipzig: G.R. Reisland, 1915), p. 343 (no. 218):
Verbum bonum et suave
Personemus, illud Ave,
Per quod Christi fit conclave
    Virgo, mater, filia;

Per quod Ave salutata,
Mox concepit fecundata
Virgo, David stirpe nata,
    Inter spinas lilia.

Ave, veri Salomonis
Mater, vellus Gedeonis,
Cuius magi tribus donis
    Laudant puerperium;

Ave, solem genuisti,
Ave, prolem protulisti;
Mundo lapso contulisti
    Vitam et imperium.

Ave, mater verbi summi,
Maris portus, signum dumi,
Aromatum virga fumi,
    Angelorum domina;

Supplicamus, nos emenda,
Emendatos nos commenda
Tuo nato ad habenda
    Sempiterna gaudia.
Here is a translation of the Marian sequence by G[eorge] H[erbert] P[almer] in The Hymner: Containing Translations of the Hymns from the Sarum Breviary together with Sundry Sequences & Processions, 2nd ed. (London: Plainsong & Medieval Music Society, 1905), p. 140:
Sing we 'Ave,' word endearing,
O Mary's welcome, sweet and cheering,
When th' expected hour was nearing
    To the Daughter, Mother, Maid;

At the quick'ning salutation,
David's seed of royal station
Won the Lord of all creation,
    Lily 'mid the thorns display'd.

Ave! with their trine oblation
Sages gave thee salutation,
Gideon's fleece prefiguration,
    Mother of true Solomon;

Ave! Sun resplendent bearing,
Virgin, joy maternal sharing,
For a fallen world preparing
    Life in glory, and a throne.

Ave! Branch of perfume rarest,
Burning Bush, the Word who barest,
Queen of Angels, best and fairest,
    Port for wanderers o'er the sea;

From thy Son, by intercession,
Mercy win for our transgression,
And a title to possession
    Of eternal bliss with thee.
The parody is most noticeable in the first and last stanzas.


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