Wednesday, June 07, 2006


In Tempus Old

The following poem appears in Susan Paxson, A Handbook for Latin Clubs (Boston: D.C. Heath & Company, 1916), with this introductory remark: "The Journal of Education commends this ingenious poem, written in seven languages — English, French, German, Greek, Latin, Spanish, and Italian — as one of the best specimens of Macaronic verse in existence, and worthy of preservation by all collectors."
In tempus old a hero lived,
  Qui loved puellas deux;
He no pouvait pas quite to say
  Which one amabat mieux.
Dit-il lui-meme un beau matin,
  "Non possum both avoir,
Sed si address Amanda Ann,
  Then Kate y yo have war.
Amanda habet argent coin,
  Sed Kate has aureas curls;
Et both sunt very agathae
  Et quite formosae girls."
Enfin the joven anthropos,
  Philoun the duo maids,
Resolved proponere ad Kate
  Devant cet evening's shades,
Procedens then to Kate's domo,
  Il trouve Amanda there,
Kai quite forgot his late resolves,
  Both sunt so goodly fair,
Sed smiling on the new tapis,
  Between puellas twain,
Coepit to tell suo love a Kate
  Dans un poetique strain.
Mais, glancing ever et anon
  At fair Amanda's eyes,
Illae non possunt dicere
  Pro which he meant his sighs.
Each virgo heard the demi-vow,
  Con cheeks as rouge as wine,
Ed offering, each, a milk-white hand,
  Both whispered, "Ich bin dein."
No author is named. Tony Augarde, The Oxford Book of Word Games (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1984; rpt. 1986), pp. 182-183, prints the first four lines and says they were "quoted in W.T. Dobson's Poetical Ingenuities (1882)." Several possible corrections come to mind, but I've left the poem as I found it.

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