Saturday, December 19, 2015

POESIS 41: O Fortuna from the Carmina Burana

O Fortuna
velut luna
statu variabilis,
semper crescis
aut decrescis;
vita detestabilis
nunc obdurat
et tunc curat
ludo mentis aciem,
dissolvit ut glaciem.

Sors immanis
et inanis,
rota tu volubilis,
status malus,
vana salus
semper dissolubilis,
et velata
michi quoque niteris;
nunc per ludum
dorsum nudum
fero tui sceleris.

Sors salutis
et virtutis
michi nunc contraria,
est affectus
et defectus
semper in angaria.
Hac in hora
sine mora
corde pulsum tangite;
quod per sortem
sternit fortem,
mecum omnes plangite!

O Fortune,
like the moon
you are changeable,
ever waxing
and waning;
hateful life
first oppresses
and then soothes
as fancy takes it;
and power
it melts them like ice.

Fate – monstrous
and empty,
you whirling wheel,
you are malevolent,
well-being is vain
and always fades to nothing,
and veiled
you plague me too;
now through the game
I bring my bare back
to your villainy.

Fate is against me
in health
and virtue,
driven on
and weighted down,
always enslaved.
So at this hour
without delay
pluck the vibrating strings;
since Fate
strikes down the strong man,
everyone weep with me!

19 December 2015 - Returning to O Fortuna after an absence, working with the poem while on the treadmill at the Y. Could not nail down the first stanza. Kept jumbling up. But Baudelaire's L'Albatross went well as did an initial read through of Harmonie du Soir. Although I did have some issues with Lorca's Pequeño vals Vienés. I do not typically switch back and forth. And I had also run through Estuans inters on an initial read through. So there may have been some overlapping of association. However, I generally don't have as much trouble on pieces that I have previously committed to memory, such as O Fortuna.

After having listened to it in performance and reciting for Medieval Latin pronunciation, it seems fine. In fact, my heightened state of attentiveness to it, along with listening to it being performed by someone else. appears to have engraved it ever deeper into my memory.

I often imagine what it is like to lose your memory. In fact, I am quite paranoid about it. The jumbling up of simple phrases, the holes where you feel something should be, the attempts to fill those hole with another phrase that you know is not right. All extremely disconcerting.

It is worth adding that after months and months of immersion into the Sonnets, the return to non-Shakespearian poetry - especially to non-iambic pentameter - is jarring at times, the prosody feels alien and clumsy, and I it takes me a little longer to find the rhythm, meter.

Currently, I work on non-Shakespearian pieces for about 45 minutes before switching to the Sonnets. The jarring effect works both ways. It takes a few beats to get back in line. Or lines to get back into the beat. The stronger the meter, there reality identifiable, the better in each case. For example, moving from Sonnet 73 in iambic pentameter to Poe's The Raven in trochaic octameter is an easy transition. It is also easy to glide in the Alexandrine lines of Baudelaire's L'Albatross. However, moving suddenly into the fractured fugue of Celan's Todesfuge is jarring and difficult. The music of poetry becomes as shattered glass. And the mind has to fight to commit these images and this language to memory.

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