Latin Poetry Slam

Ian Hua, Copy Editor

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MacDuffie has recently been celebrating National Poetry Month in many ways— performance art, Poem in Your Pocket Day, blackout poetry, a movie, and after school trips— allowing anyone with a love of poetry to indulge themselves in many ways.

But a small group of students from MacDuffie and The Williston Northampton School recently took a different route, celebrating both poetry and the classics at a poetry slam featuring the golden age of Latin literature with poets such as Ovid, Horace, Vergil, and Catullus, as well as poems from other ages and places like France and China. The event was hosted by the Williston Classics Club at their school to celebrate Ancient Rome’s 2,772nd birthday on April 12.

Each student brought a poem that was particularly striking to them and read it aloud while their fellow classical enthusiasts munched on rice krispy treats and brownies. They ranged from Catullus’s romance to Horace’s wit, from Vergil’s imagery to Caesar’s geographical explanation of Gallic territory.

Most poems were further discussed after they were read, allowing those participating to fully appreciate the linguistic magicians these poets were and the powerful motives driving their creative endeavor. Though the poetry and following dialogue may have quickly lost those who may not understand the classics, it was a wonderful occasion and charming celebration for those in attendance.

 

Here is one of the poems read at the event and a translation. Happy National Poetry Month!

 

Horace, Ode 3.13: Fons Bandusiae

 

O fons Bandusiae splendidior vitro,

dulci digne mero non sine floribus,

    cras donaberis haedo,

    cui frons turgida cornibus

 

primis et venerem et proelia destinat.               

Frustra: nam gelidos inficiet tibi

    rubro sanguine rivos

    lascivi suboles gregis.

 

Te flagrantis atrox hora Caniculae

nescit tangere, tu frigus amabile               

    fessis vomere tauris

    praebes et pecori vago.

 

Fies nobilium tu quoque fontium

me dicente cavis impositam ilicem

    saxis, unde loquaces               

    lymphae desiliunt tuae.

 

 

Oh fountain of Bandusia, more splendid than glass,

appropriate for sweet wine not without flowers,

tomorrow you will be presented with a kid,

whose forehead growing with first horns

 

is destined for love and battles.

In vain: for the offspring of the playful herd

will stain your cold streams

with red blood.

 

The fierce season of flaming Canicula

does not know to touch you, you offer

pleasant cold to the bulls tired from

the plow and the wandering herd.

 

Even you will become the most famous of fountains,

with me singing of the wood established on hollow

stones, from which your talkative

waters jump down.

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Latin Poetry Slam