a digital library of Latin literature
   
CSL Home



Keyword Search
  
     advanced search

Browse by:
          Author
          Title
          Genre
          Date

Full Corpus:
   All available texts
      (single page)



Help
Secondary Texts

What's New
Copyright
Credits
Contact Us

Alcuin
Verse about the Cuckoo
translated from Latin to English by Elin Andersson (2003)


Oh, cuckoo who used to sing for us
what fateful hour has stolen you from your friends?
Oh, cuckoo, cuckoo, in what region did I leave you?
That day was most unfortunate to me.
All mankind mourns the cuckoo everywhere,

     5

the cuckoo has perished, alas! My friend has perished.
The cuckoo shall not perish, he shall come in springtime,
and when he comes he shall sing happy songs for us.
Who knows, if he comes? I fear he is sunken in waves,
stolen and killed by whirling waters.

     10

Woe is me, if Bacchus has drowned him in the waves,
he, who steals young people with his dreadful whirl.
If he lives, he shall return, he shall come again to the dear nests,
and the raven shall not cut him in pieces with his ferocious claw.
Oh, cuckoo, who steals you from your father's nest?

     15

Oh, he stole you, he stole you, I do not know if he comes again.
If you care for songs, cuckoo, come hither quickly,
yes, come hither, I pray, come hither quickly.
Do not be tardy, I pray, cuckoo, as long as you are able to hurry,
young Daphnis, your friend, longs to be with you.

     20

Springtime is here cuckoo, now break the slumber,
Old father Menalcas longs for you too.
Our bullocks are pasturing on free meadows,
only the cuckoo is not here, who, I ask, is feeding him?
Oh, Bacchus is feeding him badly, I think, that wicked man,

     25

who wishes to turn all hearts into bad ones under his whirl.
Weep for the cuckoo, everyone, weep now for the cuckoo!
He left us rejoicing, but I think he shall return in tears.
But I hope we shall have him weeping back with us,
and so we will mourn together with the cuckoo.

     30

You, illustrious boy, mourn tearfully your misfortune,
and all flesh will mourn your misfortunes.
If not a hard stone has begotten you, mourn, I pray,
perhaps you can mourn as you remember yourself.
The love of a dear son compels the father to cry,

     35

as he suddenly is stolen from his arms,
and while the brother loses his dear brother
what else but the same thing does he, as he himself weeps constantly.
Once there were three of us, one spirit bound us together,
now we are but two, that third one has fled.

     40

Alas! He fled, he fled, and bitter tears are all that is left us now,
the dear cuckoo has gone.
Let us send songs after him, sorrowful songs,
these songs will maybe, I think, bring the cuckoo back.
May you always be happy, wherever you go,

     45

and may you remember us also. For ever and everywhere, farewell.



FORUM ROMANUM