Tuesday, May 12, 2015


The Birds Flee in Terror

Pierre Brumoy (1686-1742), excerpt from book I of De Arte Vitraria (1712), tr. Yasmin Annabel Haskell, Loyola's Bees: Ideology and Industry in Jesuit Latin Didactic Poetry (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), p. 140:
First they strike down the branches and the glory of foliage, the homes of the birds. The birds flee in terror. But the harsh rustic hollows the moaning entrails with cruel steel; fire, crueller than steel is applied, and steals furtively, and with a gentle whisper glides, driving its flames, and wanders in blind byways, and feeds on the tree's ribs which resist in vain. But she dies, and no longer does she drink the friendly milk of her nurse, the earth. She burns, as if struck by an awesome thunderbolt. Her veins dry up to their deepest roots. But what did it avail the unlucky one to have survived for so many years? Now she is completely dissolved into fine ashes. Thus he whom a cruel love has ravaged with secret fire cannot bear to reflect on his sweet past life. The poor wretch is consumed to the marrow, and gradually wastes away in the slow heat, and finally rots in his sweet corruption.
The Latin (id.):
Decutiunt primum ramos et frondis honorem,
Alituum domos: timidae fugere volucres.
At durus cavat agrestis reboantia ferro
Viscera crudeli; ferro crudelior ignis
Suppositus repit furtim lenique susurro
Gliscit agens flammas, caecisque meatibus errans
Necquicquam indociles costas depascit: at illa
Emoritur, nec iam terrae nutricis amicum
Humorem bibit; horrifico ceu fulmine tacta,
Aestuat: arescunt venae radicibus imis.
Quid tamen infaustae tot vincere profuit annos?
Iam tota in tenues fluxit dilapsa favillas.
Sic quem durus amor furtivo lancinat igni,
Non dulcis patitur vitae meminisse; medullas
Carpitur infelix, lentoque absumitur aestu
Paulatim, et blando marcescit denique tabo.
The entire poem can be found in Poemata Didascalica, Primum vel Edita vel Collecta Studiis Fr. Oudin, in Ordinem Digesta et Emendata a Cl. V. Joseph. Oliveto, 2nd ed., T. III (Paris: Delalain, 1813), pp. 254-300 (this excerpt on p. 260). Wood ash was used in glass making as an alkali flux, to lower the melting point of the silica.

Hat tip: Eric Thomson.


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