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March 20, 2011


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I had to translate this scene for a Latin test a long while ago.

Interea magno misceri murmure caelum
incipit, insequitur commixta grandine nimbus,
et Tyrii comites passim et Troiana iuuentus
Dardaniusque nepos Veneris diuersa per agros
tecta metu petiere; ruunt de montibus amnes.
speluncam Dido dux et Troianus eandem
deueniunt. prima et Tellus et pronuba Iuno
dant signum; fulsere ignes et conscius aether
conubiis summoque ulularunt uertice Nymphae.

Here the nymphs 'ulularunt'--they are howling or shrieking (ululating), the word was originally imitative of the sound of an owl. How often does one think of nymphs shrieking?

ille dies primus leti primusque malorum
causa fuit; neque enim specie famaue mouetur
nec iam furtiuum Dido meditatur amorem:
coniugium uocat, hoc praetexit nomine culpam.

The last bit I remember finding somewhat opaque: Dido calls her love "coniugium" (marriage -- but confusingly the word can also be a form of 'coniunx', husband OR wife, which will lead you down entirely the wrong path of translating the sentence), as a "pretext", literally a weaving-around (concealing) the blame (culpa) by this name. Marriage is thus a pretty covering of sin.


As you know, online flirting has gotten me into nothing but trouble (with no pretty to cover my sin) so giving it all up, I will only say this: I cannot tell you what I wanted to tell you.

Except.... London emails, wondering if I am drinking and whispers the most alluring words I have ever heard (in Latin):

Suspiria de Profundis

and so I am quite sure that this sighing is more profoundly profundis than kissing, kissing, kissing in Latin . And it's connection to daoist breath and this mysterious chanting 長嘯 that I hear so much about makes it even more interesting:



At Heaven’s Gate
I chant a poem
As a faraway wind from 10,000 li away
Sweeps over me--
-- sweeping away the worries of my heart

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