Tuesday, June 27, 2017


Two Crappy Poems

[Warning: Four-letter words ahead.]

Simon Lemnius (1511-1550), "In M. Lutherum," lines 1-8, tr. Lyndal Roper, Martin Luther: Renegade and Prophet (New York: Random House, 2017), p. 365:
You suffer yourself from dysentery and you scream when you shit, and that which you wished on others you now suffer yourself. You called others shitters, now you have become a shitter and are richly blessed with shit. Earlier anger opened your crooked mouth, now your arse opens the load of your stomach. Your anger didn't just come out of your mouth — now it flows from your backside.
The entire Latin poem, from Lemnius' Epigrammaton Libri III (1538), unpaginated (line numbers added):
Ipse dysenteriam pateris clamasque cacando,
    Quamque aliis optas euenit illa tibi.
Dumque cacatores clamas, tu nenpe cacator
    Factus es, et merda diues es ipse tua.
Ante tibi rabies distorta resoluerat ora,        5
    Et soluit culus iam tibi uentris onus.
Noluit haec tantum rabies e faucibus ire,
    Nunc etiam natibus perfluit illa tuis.
Non poterat fundi pestis tibi tanta labellis,
    Vnde tamen rumpat repperit illa uiam.        10
Sed puto rumpetur citius tibi uenter et exta,
    Exeat e culo quam tibi tanta lues.

Since Roper didn't translate the last four lines (9-12), here's my rough rendering:
So great a plague couldn't be expelled from your lips, however it found a path from which it could break out. But I suppose your stomach and guts will burst before so great a pestilence exits from your arsehole.
Here is Martin Luther's response, "Dysenteria Lutheri in Merdipoetam Lemchen," tr. Carl P.E. Springer, "Martin Luther, the Oreads of Wittenberg, and Sola Gratia," in Acta Conventus Neo-Latini Abulensis. Proceedings of the Tenth International Congress of Neo-Latin Studies, Avila 4-9 August 1997 (Tempe: Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2000 = Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies, 207), pp. 611-618 (translation pp. 612-613, n. 8, Latin text p. 613; line numbers added to Latin text):
How well your cause and your poetry are matched, Lemchen! Your cause is manure, your poetry is manure. Lemchen, the man of manure, was worthy of a song of manure, for nothing but manure is fitting for a poet of manure. O unhappy the prince whom you praise with your song of manure, whom you yourself befoul with your manure. You press manure from your bowels and you would like to produce all on your own a large bowel movement, but you produce nothing, O poet of manure. But if a penalty worthy of your deserts follows you, your corpse will be a miserable pile of manure for the crows.

Quam bene conveniunt tibi res et carmina, Lemchen!
    Merda tibi res est, carmina merda tibi.
Dignus erat Lemchen merdosus carmine merdae,
    Nam vatem merdae nil nisi merda decet.
Infelix princeps, quem laudas carmine merdae!        5
    Merdosum merda quem facis ipse tua.
Ventre urges merdam vellesque cacare libenter
    Ingentem, facis at, merdipoeta, nihil.
At meritis si digna tuis te poena sequatur,
    Tu miserum corvis merda cadaver eris.        10
This is a careful translation, although I might render res in the first two lines as as "subject matter" rather than "cause".


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