04 July 2010

Calendae Maiae (George Buchanan, trans. Philip Ford)

salvete sacris deliciis sacrae
Maiae Calendae, laetitiae et mero
ludisque dicatae iocisque
et teneris Charitum choreis.

salve voluptas et nitidum decus
anni recurrens perpetua vice
et flos renascentis iuventae
in senium properantis aevi.

cum blanda veris temperies novo
illuxit orbi, primaque saecula
fulsere flaventi metallo
sponte sua sine lege iusta,

talis per omnes continuus tenor
annos tepenti rura Favonio
mulcebat et nullis feraces
seminibus recreabat agros.

talis beatis incubat insulis
felicis aurae perpetuus tepor
et nesciis campis senectae
difficilis querulique morbi.

talis silentum per tacitum nemus
levi susurrat murmure spiritus,
Lethenque iuxta obliviosam
funereas agitat cupressos.

forsan supremis cum Deus ignibus
piabit orbem, laetaque saecula
mundo reducet, talis aura
aethereos animos fovebit.

salve fugacis gloria saeculi,
salve secunda digna dies nota,
salve vetustae vitae imago
et specimen venientis aevi.

Hail, May Day, sacred to sacred delights, dedicated to joy and wine, games, jesting, and the delicate dances of the Graces. Hail pleasure, and bright glory of the year returning in an eternal cycle, and bloom of reviving youth, hastening towards time’s old age. When spring’s pleasant warmth shone upon a new world, and the first generations gleamed with golden metal, naturally righteous without any laws, an uninterrupted course like this through all the years caressed the countryside with a warm West Wind, and renewed the fertile fields without seeds. Such is the endless warmth from delightful breezes which lies over the Isles of the Blessed, and over the fields which know not crabbed old age or complaining disease. Such a breath murmurs in a gentle whisper through the quiet grove of the Silent ones, and stirs the deathly cypress trees beside Lethe, river of forgetfulness. Perhaps when God purifies the world in the final conflagration and brings back happy ages to the universe, such a breeze will refresh the heavenly spirits. Hail, glory of a fleeting age, hail, day worthy of a favourable mark, hail, picture of a former life, and token of an age to come.

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