Roman and Mediaeval History, Illlustrated Travel Journals, Mediaeval Literature, Geology


4.2.07
  Ausonius' Mosella

Salve, amnis odorifero iuga vitea consite baccho,
consite gramineas amnis viridissime ripas!
naviger ut pelagus, devexas pronus in undas
ut fluvius, vitreoque lacus imitate profundo.

Thus says the poet Decimus Magnus Ausonius (310-395 AD) in his Mosella. Ausonius was born in Bordeaux (Burdigala, Gaul); poet, wine-lover, teacher of the young emperor-to-be Gratian, and obviously a bit of a traveller since his poem Mosella describes a journey along the river.

Hills on the western shore opposite Trier.
(Taken from the Trier side overlooking an islet where the Moselle branches for half a mile)

I attempted a translation albeit I suck at Latin, lol:

Greetings, river, framed by perfumed vineyard-covered hills,
Framed by grass; river of greenest shores.
Your strong waters carry ships, flowing in easy waves
Along the stream, and a glittering lake your depths emulate.

I wish I had known the text when I traveled there. The images Ausonius evokes respond to what I did experience on my Moselle cruise in the evening.

The Roman bridge across the Moselle in the evening haze

Quis color ille vadis, seras cum propulit umbras
Hesperus et viridi perfudit monte Mosellam.
tota natant crispis iuga motibus et tremit absens
pampinus et vitreis vindemia turget in undis.
adnumerat virides derisus navita vites,
navita caudiceo fluitans super aequora lembo,
per medium, qua sese amni confundit imago
collis et umbrarum confinia conserit amnis.

Evening at the Moselle

What colour are the waters when the Evening Star
Brings shadows of night, and green mountains fill the Moselle.
Hilltops swim in rippling waters, and trembles
The distant vine and grapes swell in crystal waves.
The boatsman counts mocking green vines
As he lets his boat drift by on the surface.
In the middle, where the river confounds its own image
With hills and shadows, lines blur in the water.

The viridissime ripas

A complete Latin version can be found here.
 
Comments:
I suck at Latin, lol.
I got maybe one word per line. My daughter is taking Latin this year, so maybe she'll be able to help me!
In my defense, I was educated in the US - so I took 6 months of French, 6 months of Spanish - and that was considered enough of those pesky 'forin' languages.
LOL (I'm so glad my kids were educated here in France...)
Sam
 
Lol, the words aren't the main problem. You'll find most of them - except some really exotic irregular ones - in the dictionary. But the Romans put their words in weird places in a sentence, and that's the trouble.

I had Latin for five years and it's a disgrace I needed a dictionary for that poem. :)
 
Gabriele, very nice.
 
Thanks, Steve.
 
Since my Latin is at a See Spot Run level, I really appreciate the translations. Backwards sentence structure never bothered me - maybe all my Roman ancestors were dyslexic!

I prefer your translation, it is more evocative and tells a clear story. It doesn't need the rhyme to be effective. Yours has nice assonance,(the o's & i's) and the rhythm seems to keep to the original. :)
 
Thank you, Constance. Compliments from a poet are especially nice since the translator has do to justice to two creations.

See Spot Run, lol. I felt the same during school and avoided Latin for a long time. It's only recently I discovered some interest in the language. Maybe it's my grandfather's genes finally showing - he spoke Latin.
 
I'm currently reading a book on women poets around the world, and all it has are the translations. I'd like to SEE the original, even if I don't speak the language. Sometimes you get a feel just looking at it, or sounding it out in your substandard Italian/Latin/Portuguese. Often, the appearance of a poem on the page is as important as the sound and rhythm arrangement.

But then I'm anal that way. :)
 
In case there's the Swede Edith Södergran (one of my favourite poets) or some German poet, I may be able to find the original.
 
I tried it in a short story and came up with this:

What color was the river bottom, when the Evening Star /

brought evening shade, and dyed the Moselle mountain green?

I wanted to emphasize the obscurity of the unseen bottom of the river - unseen while the surface is still visible with color.

Thanks for your great blog.
 
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Miscellaneous musings of an aspiring Historical Fiction and Fantasy author. Illustrated essays on Roman, Dark Age and Mediaeval history, Mediaeval literature, and Geology. Some poetry translations and writing stuff. And lots of photos of old castles, cathedrals, Roman remains, and beautiful landscapes from Germany, the UK, Scandinavia, and the Baltic States.

All texts (except comments by guests) and photos (if no other copyright is noted) on this blog are copyright of Gabriele Campbell.

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I'm a writer of Historical Fiction and Fantasy living in Germany. I got a MA in Literature, Scandinavian Studies, Linguistics and History, I'm interested in Archaeology and everything Roman and Mediaeval, an avid reader, opera enthusiast, traveller with a liking for foreign languages and odd rocks, and photographer.


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