Monday, March 23, 2009


Levis Exsurgit Zephirus

Anonymous, 11th century (tr. Helen Waddell):
Softly the west wind blows,
Gaily the warm sun goes.
The earth her bosom showeth,
And with all sweetness floweth,

Goes forth the scarlet spring,
Clad with all blossoming,
Sprinkles the fields with flowers,
Leaves on the forest.

Dens for four-footed things,
Sweet nests for all with wings,
On every blossomed bough,
Joy ringeth now.

I see it with my eyes,
I hear it with my ears,
But in my heart are sighs,
And I am full of tears.

Alone with thought I sit,
And blench, remembering it.
Sometimes I lift my head,
I neither hear nor see.

Do thou, O Spring most fair,
Squander thy care
On flower and leaf and grain,
—Leave me alone with pain.
The same (tr. Peter Dronke):
Zephyr arises gently
and the warm Sun proceeds;
Earth lays bare her bosom,
melting with her sweets.

Spring enters, dressed in crimson,
puts on her finery,
scattering flowers on the earth,
leaves on every tree.

Animals build their lairs now
and the sweet birds their nests:
among the flowering branches
they sing their happiness.

While I see it with my eyes
and hear it with my ears,
alas, instead of all those joys
I am swollen with as many sighs.

As I sit all alone,
racked with thought and wan,
if I should lift my head, then I
do not hear, I do not see.

You at least, for the sake of spring.
listen, and take in
the leaves, the flowers and the grass—
my soul is languishing.
The same (tr. David Ferry):
The wind stirs lightly as the sun's
Warmth stirs in the new season's
Moment when the earth shows everything
She has, her fragrance on everything.

The spring royally in his excitement
Scatters the new season's commandment
Everywhere, and the new leaves open,
The buds open, and begin to happen.

The winged and the fourfooted creatures
According to their several natures
Find or build their nesting places;
Each unknowingly rejoices.

Held apart from the season's pleasure
According to my separate nature
Nevertheless I bless and praise
The new beginning of the new days,

Seeing it all, hearing it all,
The leaf opening, the first bird call.
The Latin original:
Levis exsurgit Zephirus
et Sol procedit tepidus:
iam Terra sinus aperit,
dulcore suo difluit.

Ver purpuratum exiit,
ornatus suos induit,
aspergit terram floribus,
ligna silvarum frondibus.

Struunt lustra quadrupedes
et dulces nidos volucres—
inter ligna florentia
sua decantant gaudia.

Quod oculis dum video
et auribus dum audio,
heu pro tantis gaudiis
tantis inflor suspiriis.

Cum mihi sola sedeo
et, hec revolvens, palleo,
si forte capud sublevo,
nec audio nec video.

Tu saltim, veris gratia,
exaudi et considera
frondes, flores et gramina—
nam mea languet anima.

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