Poematia Moderna: Modern Latin Poetry.
Poematia Moderna presents over 300 Latin poems by 69 poets from 17 nations, most from the preceding century but some from this one as well. Many of these writers, as we might expect, are not household names, but some, like Giovani Pascoli, are well-known poets in their own right and a couple, like Wolfgang Schadewaldt and Michael von Albrecht, are renowned classicists whose verse compositions will come as a surprise to those who know only their traditional scholarship. The most common meters are elegiac couplets, Sapphic and Alcaic stanzas, and dactylic hexameters. Poets like Fidel Radle use rhyme successfully, Ton Smerdl writes in a kind of free verse, and on p. 94 we even find Latin haiku. The themes, in the end, are not much different from poems written in any language, at any time--love, friendship, nature, mortality, God, and family--but there are peculiarly modern takes, including the Big Bang, bikinis, cell phones, heart transplants, and skateboards, things that initially, at least, sound odd in Latin.
The best way to sing the merits of this collection, I believe, is to let it speak for itself, through a range of examples. Some of the poems, like "In patris obitum" of Orazio Bologna, could have been written two thousand years ago:
Te Deus, alme pater, iustis soletur in aevum Muneribus. Lumen luceat ipse tibi. Terra levis solamen adhuc tibi praebeat almum, Collacrimante, pater, coniuge, prole tua.
Others, like "Quaeris cur" by Eric Johnson, are just as serious, but are clearly the products of our time:
Puer vidi fratres slavos Et Judaeos condemnatos Capitis Germanice; Deinde Mortem exaudivi Voce saeva et servili Eloqui Slavonice; Posthoc ipse cum Vandalis Militans Americanis Deliravi Anglice. Quaeris cur Latina canam, Cur hac lingua versus pangam. Quod non olet sanguine.
Not everything has to be serious, although for soccer fans like Pietro Bruno, the tirade against the hated Roman squad Lazio mixes humor with venom in "In quondam arbitrum certaminis harpasti dirae":
O barbe arbiter ac inique iudex Tu quid saepe aciei nihil merenti Mendosae Latiae favere es ausus, Quae in rete ingerere impotens habetur Follem (nam manibus vetatur uti): Quaenam convicia probrosiora Pro tuo crimine, ultor haud benignus, In tuum facinus vomam pudendum? Rebus qui Latiis studet misellis Profari nequit intumente bile, Quod indigna satis putatur certe Quam Victoria das ei repente, O trifucifer arbiter spuende!
Others, like the two little poems entitled "Telephonum mobile," incline still further toward the dulce, although there is just enough utile to make them worth a moment's thought:
Machina parva tibi, quamvis sit noxia, prodest: Dum delet cerebrum, nuntia multa tenet. Effigies passim rapide transmittere possum: Ne tunicam ponas, casta puella, cave!
Enough said, I think. Just order the book, and enjoy! (Craig Kallenrf, Texas A&M University)
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|Title Annotation:||NEO-LATIN NEWS|
|Article Type:||Book review|
|Date:||Mar 22, 2016|
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