Sunday, February 8, 2015

the lover in winter

The Lover in Winter

Leaves fall.
Green dies.
All heat drains away
and dies,
as the sun enters
the last sign.

Cold tortures soft things.
Winter plagues the birds,
and Philomel keens
with the rest:
the fire dims
from their sky.

Hollows are wet,
and meadows are seer.
The golden sun flees
our horizon.
After a day of snow, the night

Everything shivers.
I alone am warm,
for deep in my loins
an ember burns.
This flame is a woman,
my longing for her.

A kiss feeds the fire,
a woman's soft touch.
The light of lights
is in her eyes,
nor has anything been -- ever --
more holy.

Anonymous, circa 1200
(my translation)


  1. De ramis cadunt folia,
    nam viror totus periit,
    iam calor liquit omnia
    et abiit;
    nam signa coeli ultima
    sol petiit.

    Iam nocet frigus teneris,
    et avis bruma laeditur,
    et philomena caeteris
    quod illis ignis etheris

    Nec lympha caret alveus,
    nec prata virent herbida,
    sol nostra fugit aureus
    est inde dies niveus,
    nox frigida.

    Modo frigescit quidquid est,
    sed solus ego caleo;
    immo sic mihi cordi est
    quod ardeo;
    hic ignis tamen virgo est,
    qua langueo.

    Nutritur ignis osculo
    et leni tactu virginis;
    in suo lucet oculo
    lux luminis,
    nec est in toto saeculo
    plus numinis.

    Ignis garecus extinguitur
    cum vino iam acerrimo;
    sed iste non extinguitur
    immo fomento alitur

    A rather loose translation:-) You might notice that I have omitted the last stanza from the translation. It says

    Greek fire is extinguished
    by vinegar;
    but nothing extinguishes this
    it is fed by abundant

    ... but nothing explains this shift from happiness to misery. I suspect some intervening lines are lost, which would explain that the poet's hot little puella is off warming someone else's wintry cockles.


    1. Or better, the last stanza:

      Bitter wine extinguishes
      Greek fire,
      but bitter tears are no help
      for my burning,
      such abundant fuel
      feeds it hot.

      .... though, of course, vinegar (bitter wine) didn't really extinguish Greek fire. That's just pretty nonsense :)


  2. Your photography speaks loud to my heart, every time.

    Kisses to you and the lover. <3