Monday, December 13, 2004


Another Dirge

Anent yesterday's post on Catullus 3, Sauvage Noble writes in an email:

S. Nobilis Laudatori T. A. sal. dat

I hope this message finds you well. In case you did not already know of it, I thought you might find interesting W.A. Mozart's dirge for his departed pet starling, in a letter to his sister:

A little fool lies here
Whom I held dear -
A starling in the prime
Of his brief time,
Whose doom it was to drain
Death's bitter pain.
Thinking of this, my heart
Is riven apart.
Oh, reader! Shed a tear,
You also, here.
He was not naughty, quite,
But gay and bright,
And under all his brag
A foolish wag.
This no one can gainsay
And I will lay
That he is now on high,
And from the sky,
Praises me without pay
In his friendly way.
Yet unaware that death
Has choked his breath,
And thoughtless of the one
Whose rime is thus well done.

June the 4th, 1787 Mozart.

Trans. by Martha Davenport, Mozart (New York 1932/1956) p.273.

Quoted in Wolfgang Hildesheimer, Mozart, trans. Marion Faber (Frankfurt 1977/New York 1982) pp.206-207.


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