As is my wine, so are my words

My free rendering of a stanza from poem 4 of the 12th cent. Archpoet‘s works.


As is my wine, so are my words

Nothing can I produce, not unless I’ve already eaten.

Worth nothing at all are those poems I write on an empty belly,

but after a deep glass I will outrun Ovid in song


Tales versus facio, quale vinum bibo,

nihil possum facere, nisi sumpto cibo.

Nihil valent penitus, quae ieiunus scribo,

Nasonem post calicem carmine preibo.


The Archpoet is best (~only) known for the “Meum est propositum in taberna mori” (My purpose is to die in a tavern) stanza of the poem generally called his ‘Confession’, but there are a good few similarly playful bits scattered through the rest of his work.

He tends to be very difficult to translate with any satisfaction given the structural parallelisms he everywhere deploys.  Here alone we find:

line-end rhymes (bibo … cibo … scribo … preibo)

line-internal corresponding clauses (Tales … quale)

line-start vocab repetition (Nihil… / Nihil…)

line-start sound repetition (Nihil… / Nihil… / Nasonem..)



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