Lyra Limerica

Limericks

Limericks
BIRDS IN THE BEARD (published in CA News, December 2004) There was an Old Man with a beard, Who said, 'It is just as I feared! Two Owls and a Hen, Four Larks and a Wren, Have all built their nests in my beard!' CAPRICIOUS CAPERS published in CA News There was an Old Person of Ischia, Whose conduct grew friskier and friskier; He danced hornpipes and jigs, And ate thousands of figs, That lively Old Person of Ischia. DEFLATED published in CA News, said at Horatian Society There was an Old Man in a boat, Who said ‘I’m afloat! I’m afloat!’ When they said ‘No! you ain’t!’ He was ready to faint, That unhappy Old Man in a boat. TERRA FIRMA published in CA News There was a Young Lady of Portugal, Whose ideas were excessively nautical: She climbed up a tree, to examine the sea, But declared she would never leave Portugal. SHOE SHOCK Said at Horatian Society dinner There was an Old Man of the Wrekin Whose shoes made a horrible creaking; But they said ‘Tell us whether Your shoes are of leather, Or of what, you Old Man of the Wrekin?’ NONCHALANT There was a Young lady of Norway Who sat herself down in a doorway. When the door squashed her flat, She exclaimed ‘What of that?’ This courageous Young lady of Norway. TOO LONG BY HALF There was an old man of Coblenz, The length of whose legs was immense ; He went with one prance, from Turkey to France, That surprising old man of Coblenz. EASTERN PROMISE There was a young lady of Tyre, Who swept the loud chords of a lyre ; At the sound of each sweep, she enraptured the deep, And enchanted the city of Tyre. UNHEEDED There was an Old Man who said, "Well! Will nobody answer this bell? I have pulled day and night, till my hair has grown white, But nobody answers this bell!" DIRGE OF A SHREW There was an old person of Tartary Who divided his jugular artery. But he screeched to his wife, and she said »Oh, my life! Your death will be felt by all Tartary. » VULCAN’S STITHY published in CA News There was an Old Person of Gretna, Who rushed down the crater of Etna; When they said, ‘Is it hot?’ he replied, ‘No, it’s not!’ That mendacious Old Person of Gretna. ATHLETE’S FEAT There was a Young Girl of Majorca, Whose Aunt was a very fast walker; She walked seventy miles, and leaped fifteen stiles, Which astonished that Girl of Majorca. STRICT REGIMEN published in CA News There was an Old Person of Sparta Who had twenty-five sons and one daughter; He fed them on snails, and weighed them in scales, That wonderful person of Sparta. MAD COW There was an Old Man of Aôsta, Who possessed a large Cow, but he lost her; But they said, 'Don't you see, she has rushed up a tree? You invidious Old Man of Aôsta HONG KONG There was an old man of Hong Kong Who never did anything wrong. He lay on his back With his head in a sack, That innocuous old man of Hong Kong. DOOM WITH A VIEW There was an Old Person of Florence, Who held mutton chops in abhorrence; He purchased a Bustard, and fried ihm in Mustard, Which choked that Old Person of Florence, DISCOMBOBULATED CA News and Horatian Society There was an Old Person of Diss, Who said, ‘It is this! It is this!’ When they said, ‘What?’ or ‘Which?’ – He jumped into a ditch, Which absorbed that Old Person of Diss.
Lyra Limerica
* barbatus hospes nidificantium: ‘fit quod timebam! strix, trochilus, canens gallina cum bubone, alaudae quattuor, inseruere nidos.’ * lasciviores Inarimae, senex, misces choreas; innumerabiles mandis, Pithecusæe, ficus; fersque pedem numeris marinis. * ‘heus, nonne no? no! nat mea trabs,’ ait vir lintre vectus; praetereuntium cui turba: ‘tu non nas.’ recessit deficiens miserandum in alveum. * non Lusitanae mente cadunt maris naves; ut aequor spectet, in arborem conscendit. inde effata: ‘nunquam te, Tage, teque, Duri, relinquam.’ * raucis cothurnis improbe Cornovi, crepide crocis. ‘ num corio crepis? quonamve?’ sic horrent canoras carbatinas Viroconienses. * Septentrionum nubilis incola incauta portae sedit in ostio. elisa, ‘quidnam tum?’ vigore clamat Hyperboreos feroci. * immensa saltans ex Asia gradu imponit uno crura Parisiis, quem Rhenus eduxit Mosella compare sesquipedaliorem. * Phoenissa chordas raucisonas lyrae cum nympha magnis verreret ictibus, immane delectabat aequor et Tyriam recreabat urbem. * ‘longum sonanti num quis adest seni? canescit, inquam, caesaries mihi: pernoxque tinnitu vocavi perque diem: neque oboedit ullus.’ * qui Chersonesi se iugulaverat dat soricinas gutture nenias. cui sponsa: ‘vexabuntur omnes morte tua, mea vita, Tauri.’ * ex Hadriani moenibus advena cratera in Aetnae desilit irruens. ‘ardetne?’ ‘nequaquam.’ fefellit Scoticus Empedocles Sicanos. * tu dena vadis milia septies, ter quinque sepes tu superevolas, matertera, admiranda nepti: quin Baliaris hians stupescit. * o pasta proles fotaque cochleis! examinasti tu, pater, unicam post quinque vigintique natos, mire Lacon, trutina puellam. * Praetorianus possidet haud levem perditque vaccam. ‘nonne vides?’ ait vicinus, ‘ascendit comantes, invidiose, oneratque ramos.’ * urbs, a Britannis reddita Seribus! vir, purus omnis criminis improbi, velavit in sacco supinus innocuum caput, et recumbit. * non Arniensem lanigeri caro delectat agni. comparat otidem, quae fricta cum flavo sinapi fauce premit perimitque Tuscum. * Icenus, annis nempe senilibus marcens, ‘id hoc est’, inquit, ‘et hoc id est’. cum ‘quid? quod?’ aut ‘quod? quid?’ rogarent, desilit excipiturque fossa.

Translation: Copyright © Timothy Adès

Hibernia nostra

Let Erin Remember

My Latin
Let Erin Remember
Let Erin remember the days of old, Ere her faithless sons betray'd her; When Malachi wore the collar of gold, Which he won from her proud invader, When her kings, with standard of green unfurl'd, Led the Red-Branch Knights to danger! Ere the emerald gem of the western world Was set in the crown of a stranger. On Lough Neagh's bank as the fisherman strays, When the clear cold eve's declining, He sees the round towers of other days In the wave beneath him shining: Thus shall memory often, in dreams sublime, Catch a glimpse of the days that are over; Thus, sighing, look through the waves of time, For the long-faded glories they cover.
Hibernia nostra
tempora lapsa diu memorentur, Hibernia nostra, queis te tradiderat nondum tua perfida proles. supremum regem signaverat aurea torques, invasore truci victorem in lite superbo: tempore quo viridi regum vexilla colore audendis equites rutilos duxere periclis, Hesperiae necdum Smaragditia gemma iacebat capta per externos, aliena inserta corona. est lacus insignis: ripa piscator in alta, solis ad occasum deerrans per frigus et umbram, viderit antiquas torres praestare rotundas, surgere fulgentes et aqua lucere profunda. sic etiam referent sublimia somnia menti grandia tempora, lapsorum simulacra dierum: vanescunt refugis aevis moribunda per undas, in queis iamdudum se pristina gloria condit.
Sung by Michael O’Duffy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vtPsezf6qn0

Translation: Copyright © Timothy Adès

DO RE MI

DO RE MI

English by Oscar Hammerstein II from 'The Sound of Music'. Latin by me.
DO RE MI
Let's start at the very beginning A very good place to start When you read, you begin with A-B-C When you sing, you begin with Do-Re-Mi Do, a deer, a female deer Re, a drop of golden sun Mi, a name, I call myself Fa, a long, long way to run So, a needle pulling thread La, a note to follow So Ti, a drink with jam and bread That will bring us back to Do. When you know the notes to sing You can sing most anything.
DO RE MI
incipiamus in incepto: valet optima origo. ~~alpha et beta legis, mox quoque gamma notas. imus cerva gradus, muliebris bestia, chordis; ~~aureolo sequitur guttula sole, iubar. tum mihi me nomen, quo me revocante vocabor; ~~currere fas longe, cui via longa, procul. dein sutoris acus, trahitur cum sutile filum; ~~excipiens caecus proximus instat acum. dein thea adest, pani coctis cum fructibus apta; ~~cerva iterum inventa conficiemus iter. tempore quo disces septem discrimina vocum, ~~omnia quam sollers carmina paene canes!
in pratis: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=drnBMAEA3AM in stratis: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pLm07s8fnzM

Translation: Copyright © Timothy Adès

The hard-boiled egg

El huevo duro

Victor Manuel Mendiola (1954)

El huevo duro
De la cestilla tomo el frágil huevo. Sobre la mano pesa su redondo blanco sin peso - tan callado y hondo, tan oro y ogro como un medioevo. Con la cuchara hasta el perol lo llevo y el tiempo mido; en el hervor lo escondo y miro cómo el miedo baja al fondo; ser viejo y duro es un febril renuevo. Todo es la blanca forma del espanto. Atrapada la nunca picadura y el gallo a la mazmorra reducido, es el huevo la nota de otro canto y oro sin ogro guarda la armadura; mi cena, el duro huevo envejecido.
The hard-boiled egg
I take the frail egg from the woven wicker. Its weight is on my hand, its base is round, it’s white and weightless, taciturn, profound, it’s medieval, it is gold and ogre. It’s in the spoon – the pan is on the cooker; I plunge it in the fury and the sound, the timer’s on; timidity is drowned; it’s old and hard with new and febrile vigour. The whole thing has the pure white form of terror. The puncturing’s trapped in the never-never, the cockerel is humbled in the slammer: the egg’s not in his song, it’s in some other. The gold is tough enough without the ogre; the egg, now old and hardened, is my supper.
Published in Shearsman magazine.

Translation: Copyright © Timothy Adès

More poems by Victor Manuel Mendiola...

‘What spot do you aim at?’ by Wystan Hugh

Oh where are you going

W.H. Auden (1907-73)

Oh where are you going
"O where are you going?" said reader to rider, "That valley is fatal where furnaces burn, Yonder's the midden whose odours will madden, That gap is the grave where the tall return." "O do you imagine," said fearer to farer, "That dusk will delay on your path to the pass, Your diligent looking discover the lacking, Your footsteps feel from granite to grass?" "O what was that bird," said horror to hearer, "Did you see that shape in the twisted trees? Behind you swiftly the figure comes softly, The spot on your skin is a shocking disease." "Out of this house"---said rider to reader, "Yours never will"---said farer to fearer "They're looking for you"---said hearer to horror, As he left them there, as he left them there.
‘What spot do you aim at?’ by Wystan Hugh
‘What spot do you aim at?’ said bookworm to backload: That low strip is fatal as kilns hotly burn, It’s got a big dunghill, its odour’s a lungful, That gap is a tomb from which lofty folk turn.’ ‘O is it your notion’ said pallid to payload, ‘That dusk will hold back on your path to yon pass, Your small-tooth-comb looking track down what is lacking, Your footfall go groping from gabbro to grass?’ ‘O what was that bird’ said to auditor awful, ‘Did you spot that form amid twigs twisting thick? At your back swiftly that thing’s coming softly, That spot on your skin dubs you horribly sick.’ ‘Out of this building’ said backload to bookworm, ‘Yours will not do it’ said payload to pallid, ‘You got you a manhunt,’ said auditor, 'awful.' Your man didn’t stay, your man didn’t stay.

Translation: Copyright © Timothy Adès

More poems by W.H. Auden...

Auden ipse scripsi

Oh where are you going

W.H. Auden (1907-73)

Oh where are you going
"O where are you going?" said reader to rider, "That valley is fatal where furnaces burn, Yonder's the midden whose odours will madden, That gap is the grave where the tall return." "O do you imagine," said fearer to farer, "That dusk will delay on your path to the pass, Your diligent looking discover the lacking, Your footsteps feel from granite to grass?" "O what was that bird," said horror to hearer, "Did you see that shape in the twisted trees? Behind you swiftly the figure comes softly, The spot on your skin is a shocking disease." "Out of this house"---said rider to reader, "Yours never will"---said farer to fearer "They're looking for you"---said hearer to horror, As he left them there, as he left them there.
Auden ipse scripsi
sic equiti loquitur lector: ‘quo vadere velles? ~~vallis enim vivis ignibus illa necat. est fimus, infesti qua te furiabit odores; ~~in spatio tumulus, qua redit altus, hiat.’ sic pavidus: ‘peregrine’ inquit ‘cito faucibus instans! ~~num tentant tenebrae mox moderare moras? num vigil invenies vacui vestigia visu? ~~num, si stant lapides, mulserit herba pedes?’ ‘qualis avis fuit, auditor?’ modo dixerat horror: ~~‘arboribus tortis nonne patebat avis? te sequitur pede pernici furtiva figura; ~~in cute gutta tua desidet, atra lues.’ lectori sed eques: ‘proficiscere, tecta relinquas.’ ~~‘nec tibi pes...’ pavido sic peregrinus ait. auditor: ‘peteris!’ petiturque, ut dixerat, horror. ~~ille ibi liquit eos, ille ibi liquit eos.
Auden’s voice: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iFQjnqV_byA Ned Rorem’s music: https://www.newworldrecords.org/products/ned-rorem-evidence-of-things-not-seen See also my lipogram.

Translation: Copyright © Timothy Adès

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Sonnet of the Sweet Complaint

Soneto de la dulce queja

Federico García Lorca (1898-1936)

Soneto de la dulce queja
Tengo miedo a perder la maravilla de tus ojos de estatua y el acento que de noche me pone en la mejilla la solitaria rosa de tu aliento. Tengo pena de ser en esta orilla tronco sin ramas; y lo que más siento es no tener la flor, pulpa o arcilla, para el gusano de mi sufrimiento. Si tú eres el tesoro oculto mío, si eres mi cruz y mi dolor mojado, si soy el perro de tu señorío, no me dejes perder lo que he ganado y decora las aguas de tu río con hojas de mi otoño enajenado.
Sonnet of the Sweet Complaint
Let me not lose your wondrous eyes of marble, nor your voice that blows your breath, a solitary rose, between my teeth at pale moonrise. A stranded trunk without a shoot, dreading and greatly sorrowing, I have not clay nor flower nor fruit to feed my worm of suffering. Are you my secret treasury, my tears of pain, my cross? Am I the lapdog of your mastery? Let me not lose what I have gained: And let your river flow adorned with my sere leaves that fall estranged.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ybZYsUIRuSE https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LAzF9seSQVk - 3'40"

Translation: Copyright © Timothy Adès

More poems by Federico García Lorca...

Ode on the Death of Tolstoy

Oda en la muerte de Tolstoi

Alfonso Reyes (1889-1959)

His father, a General and former Minister of the Interior, had 'got himself killed' (se hizo matar) in the Revolution, in the 10 days of 1911.
Oda en la muerte de Tolstoi
Alta encina y oráculo, milagro de la tierra, que hablaba estremecida del viento de la mar: hoy, en el corazón antiguo de la sierra, la mano se ha secado que la pudo plantar: la que estallaba en rojos rayos de profecías y echaba por las tribus bendiciones de pan; la que, en la sal del llanto que llora Jeremías, amasaba las ásperas harinas de su pan. (Porque, desde la noche primera de los días, los hijos de los hombres no se redimirán.) Inmensidad de cielo y mar, alta virtud de consolar, de alimentar, de perdonar – oh Satanás – y de matar. Alegría funesta, consuelos enemigos, piedad sañuda y flora turbia de bien y mal: limosna de la muerte, que alarga a los mendigos en ademán de dádiva la hoja del puñal. La cruz de aquel profeta, larga como un gemido, subía hasta las nubes en pos de tempestad: por ella descendía el dragón encendido a devorar el fruto de la posteridad. (Porque la humanidad es perenne gemido, y es mejor no nacer para la humanidad.) Desolación, desolación. Es nuevo Herodes la razón; sea, en el ara del perdón, la humana mies, degollación. Con la sabiduría clásica del Sileno, avanza por los campos de hielo el redentor; el carro de su voz rodaba como un trueno, su frente era promesa, sus ojos estupor. Venerable como un tronco vestido de heno, el redentor tenía la cara de Moisés. Bajo el cabello, lívido reverberar de plata, cogiosa barba llueve como una catarata. Lleva alas de relámpago prendidas a los pies. Cuando deja salir la voz a predicar, es como si gritara súbitamente el mar. Desolación, desolación. Maldita está la Creación, y es una larga convulsión el palpitar del corazón. Y el coro de los pueblos hierve como la espuma – oh asalto de las olas –, persigue al redentor; el vaho de los hombres forma en el éter bruma, y la tierra se moja de llanto y de sudor. (Flota en la estepa un vívido reverberar de plata que llueve de la tarde como una catarata.) y la terrible boca pronuncia la sentencia, y ardiente espada surge de la terrible boca; consúmese a lo lejos el Árbol de la Ciencia, y el Arca de Noé se parte en una roca: “Hermanos, replegaos al útero materno. Abrid tumbas, la vida es vergüenza y error. La carne de los hombres es pasto del Infierno. La Creación es mancha del manto del Señor.” Inmensidad de cielo y mar, alta virtud de consolar, de alimentar, de perdonar – oh Satanás – y de matar.
Ode on the Death of Tolstoy
Great oak and oracle, and earthly miracle, who spoke when shaken by wild winds of sea, to-day in highland’s primeval heartland the hand is parched that had planted thee. Red rays of warning in bursts were streaming! You blessed the tribes with the gift of bread; and in the salt tears that Jeremiah shed you heaped the coarse flour of your grain, for since the first night of the noon-days there’s no redeeming the sons of men. Immensity of sky and sea, grace of consoling lenity, to feed, to take our sins away – O Satan, Satan – and to slay. Joy like a corpse, comforter malignant, raging saint, grime-flower of good and ill: death’s coin of mercy that offers beggars the seeming gift of the blade of daggers! The prophet’s cross, longer than a groaning, ascended cloud-high to vex the storm, down which descending the fiery dragon devoured the fruit of the yet unborn. (For man is one everlasting groaning, the best for man, never to be born.) Desolation, desolation, Herod is reborn as Reason; at the altar-rail of pardon let man’s harvest be beheading. With classic wisdom of old Silenus, through icy plains the redeemer made his way. His voice’s ox-cart rolled on like thunder, his brow spoke promise, his eye a dreamer’s, the face of Moses was this redeemer’s, a stately tree-trunk all hung with hay. Below his hair, livid silver drum-beat, his beard like white-water-shock was raining, with wings of lightning his feet were shining, and when he turned loose his voice to preaching, it seemed a sudden shouting of the sea. Desolation, desolation, accursed is all creation, a drawn-out convulsion the heart’s palpitation. The troop of peoples like sea-froth seething – O surging waves – rounds on the redeemer; the human vapour befogs the ether, the earth is wet with its sweat and weeping. (Across the steppe, vivid silver drum-beat, white water foaming, rains down at evening.) The fearsome mouth speaks the judging word, the fearsome mouth wields the burning sword; the Tree of Knowledge far off is tinder, the rock has split Noah’s Ark asunder: “O brothers, brothers, unseal the tomb, fall back, return to our mother’s womb, for life is shame, life is false accord, men’s flesh is feed for the hosts of hell, and Creation a stain on the raiment of the Lord.” Immensity of sky and sea, grace of consoling lenity, to feed, to take our sins away – O Satan, Satan – and to slay.

Translation: Copyright © Timothy Adès

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I grasped my angel, not letting him go

Ich liess meinen Engel lange nicht los

Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926)

Ich liess meinen Engel lange nicht los
Ich liess meinen Engel lange nicht los, und er verarmte mir in den Armen und wurde klein, und ich wurde groß: und auf einmal war ich das Erbarmen, und er eine zitternde Bitte bloß. Da hab ich ihm seine Himmel gegeben,- und er ließ mir das Nahe, daraus er entschwand; er lernte das Schweben, ich lernte das Leben, und wir haben langsam einander erkannt...
I grasped my angel, not letting him go
I grasped my angel, not letting him go, and in his arms he was holding me and he diminished as I did grow: I was mercy, he was a trembling plea. And there and then I gave him his heaven, - he went from the field, and was suddenly gone; and he learnt flying, and I learnt living: we knew one another as time went on.

Translation: Copyright © Timothy Adès

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The quietest day of the year

(für Clara) Der stillste Tag im Jahr

Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926)

(für Clara) Der stillste Tag im Jahr
Weihnachten ist der stillste Tag im Jahr. Da hörst du alle Herzen gehn und schlagen wie Uhren, welche Abendstunden sagen. Weihnachten ist der stillste Tag im Jahr. Da werden alle Kinderaugen groß, als ob die Dinge wüchsen, die sie schauen und mütterlicher werden alle Frauen und alle Kinderaugen werden groß. Da mußt du draußen gehn im weiten Land willst du die Weihnacht sehn, die unversehrte, als ob dein Sinn der Städte nie begehrte, so mußt du draußen gehn im weiten Land. Dort dämmern große Himmel über dir, die auf entfernten, weißen Wäldern ruhn, die Wege wachsen unter deinen Schuhn, und große Himmel dämmern über dir. Und in den großen Himmeln steht ein Stern, ganz aufgeblüht zu selten großer Helle, die Fernen nähern sich wie eine Welle, und in den großen Himmeln steht ein Stern.
The quietest day of the year
Christmas, the quietest day of the year. Of every heart you can hear the pulse, like the evening hours that a timepiece tells: Christmas, the quietest day of the year. The children stare and their eyes are wide as if things grew by a power supernal, and all the mothers are more maternal: the children stare and their eyes are wide. You must go out in the countryside if you want to see Christmas unimpaired: as if for cities you never have cared, you must go out in the countryside. Great skies are twilit above your head, at peace over white and distant woods: the paths grow wider under your boots. Great skies are twilit above your head. And in the great skies there stands a star, with a rare great brightness it has risen. A wave comes in, it’s the far horizon, and in the great skies there stands a star.  

Translation: Copyright © Timothy Adès

More poems by Rainer Maria Rilke...