Sunday, May 8, 2016

Wine, Women, and Song

John Addington Symonds (ed) - Wine, Women, and Song: Medieval Latin Students' Songs (1884) direct link
Open Library main page

Apparently the first substantial English translation of the rowdy, seize-the-day lyrics from medeival scholars.  They were unfamiliar at the time but today most people know them from Carl Orff's setting of the Carmina Burana and the background from Helen Waddell's wonderful 1927 Wandering Scholars.

Symonds provides context and commentary, at times almost too much.  His translations seem fairly Victorian - "The blithe young year is upward steering, / Wild winter dwindles disappearing; / The short, short days are growing longer, / Rough weather yields and warmth is stronger."  But I don't know how accurate this is since I can't read the originals and don't have the Parlett and Waddell translations (which I have read) handy.  Symonds does admit to omitting a few passages that would offend contemporary sensibilities.

John Addington Symonds (1840-1893) was a Renaissance scholar.  He studied under Jowett and wrote many books about Italy, Boccaccio, Michelangelo, Shakespeare, Whitman and Greek poets.  He was a pioneer in studying gay history though much of that work wasn't widely distributed at the time.