Dave Soldier
Lyrics from Chorea Lascivia (1991) recorded on the CD Smut


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Original Latin lyrics and translations of medieval Latin poetry, mostly on homosexual themes featured on the CD of the same name. The text is adapted from homo- and heteroerotic Latin poetry of the Middle Ages. Dedicated to Robert Mapplethorpe and David Wojnarowicz. English translations of II, V, VII, & VIII by the late Thomas Stehling, by permission of his family. Translations of I & IV by Soldier.

I. Dum Caupona Verterem

Dum caupona verterem vino debachtus,
secus templum Veneris eram hospitatus,
solus ibam prospere vestibus ornatus,
plenum ferens loculum ad sinistrum latus.

Venus clementissima, felix creatura,
cerno quod preterita noscis et futura.
Ipse sum miserrimus, res iam peritura,
quem sanare poteris tua leni cura.

"Bene," inquit, "Veneris noster o dilecte
iuvenis, aptissime cedes nostre secte.
Si tu das denarios monete electe,
dabitur consilium salutis perfecte."

"Ecce," dixi, "loculus extat nummis plenus,
totum quippe tribuam tibi, sacra Venus;
si tu das consilium, ut sat sim serenus,
tuum in perpetuum venerabor genus."

Exuit se vestibus genitrix Amoris,
carnes ut ostenderet nivei decoris.
Sternens eam lectulo fere decem horis
mitigavi rabiem febrici doloris.

Tribus reor mensibus secum sum moratus,
plenum ferens loculum, vixi vir ornatus recedens a Venere sum
nunc allevatus
nummis, atque sic sum pauperatus.

Terreat vos, iuvenes, istud quod auditis;
dum sagittam Veneris penes vos sentitis,
mei este memores; quocumque vos itis,
liberi poteritis esse, si velitis.

When I left the tavern

"When I left the tavern drunk on wine,
I visited Venus's temple nearby.
I traveled alone, dressed to kill
with a full wallet on my left hip."

"Venus, most merciful, blessed creature,
I observe you know the past and also the future.
I'm most miserable, about to die,
but you could heal me with your gentle attention."

"We welcome," said Venus, "our fine youth
who choose to join our righteous sect.
If you donate the right quantity of cash
you will be advised about the perfect salvation."

"Look", I said, "my wallet has plenty of cash;
I will assign it completely to you holy Venus.
If you give instruction so that I will be at peace,
I will venerate your high ancestry forever."

The Mother of Love removed her clothes
to show her lovely flesh.
Spreading her out on the couch for some ten hours
I appeased the rage of my fever and pain.

I stayed with her, I think, for three months
and was respected while I had a full wallet.
Yet after leaving Venus I was relieved
of all my money and now I'm a pauper.

Young friends, may what you're hearing strike you with terror.
When the arrow of Venus pierces you
remember me; wherever you go
you can be freed [from torment] if you wish.

- from the Carmina Burana

II. Ad Puerum Anglicum

Ad Puerum AnglicumAve puer speciose, qui non queris precium
qui te dono conparari summum ducis vicium
in quo decor et honestas delegit hospicium
forma cujus sibi capit oculos spectancium.Crinis flavus, os decorum cervixque candidula
sermo blandus et suavis; sed quid laudem singula
Totus pulcher et decorus, nec est in te macula
sed vaccare castitati talis nequid formula.Crede mihi, si redirent prisca Jovis secula
Ganimedes jam non foret ipsius vernacula
sed tu, raptus in supernis, grata luce pocula
gratiora quidem nocte Jovi dares oscula.Puellarum juvenumque votum extas publicum
te suspirant et exoptant quem noverunt unicum.
Errant quidem, inmo peccant qui te vocant Anglicum;
et vocalem interponant, et dicant angelicum.

- Hilary the Englishman (12th century)

The English Boy

Hail handsome boy, you who seek no gain,
Who think that to be purchased by a gift is highest vice,
In whom beauty and integrity choose their dwelling place
Whose appearance captures the eyes of all who see.
Golden hair, beautiful face, and white neck,
Winning and sweet conversation--but why praise these things one by one?
You are completely handsome; there is no flaw in you--
Except this worthless decision to devote yourself to chastity.
Believe me, if the ancient times of Jove were to come again,
Ganymede would no longer be Jove's maid,
But you, ravished in the heavens, would give Jove
Pleasing cups by day, and even more pleasing kisses by night.
You stand out, an object of general devotion for young men and girls.
They sigh and long for you, recognizing you as unique.
Those who call you English truly make a mistake; no, they even sin.
Let them change the vowel and say angel.

Note: Ganymede, the cup bearer for Jupiter, is used in classical and medieval poetry to represent homosexuality.

IV. Miser, Miser

Olim latus colueram, olim pulcher extiteram
dum cignus ego fuream.

(Refr.) Miser, miser!
modo niger et ustus fortiter.

Girat, regirat "furcifer"
propinat me nunc dapifer,
me rogus urit fortiter

Miser, miser!
modo niger et ustus fortiter.

Mallem in aquis vivere
nudo semper sub aere,
quam in hoc mergi pipere:

Miser, miser!
modo niger et ustus fortiter.

Eram nive candidor,
quavis ave formosior,
nodo sum corvo nigrior:

Miser, miser!
modo niger et ustus fortiter.

Nunc in scutella iaceo,
et volitare nequeo,
dentes fredentes video:
Miser, miser!
modo niger et ustus fortiter.

Once I lived on a lake,
once I was beautiful,
when I was a swan.

Misery, misery!Now I'm black and charred
through and through.

Now they turn me on a spit
I feel the searing flame
a mighty funeral pyre.

Misery, misery!Now I'm black and charred
through and through.

I'd rather live on the water
always exposed to the open air
than immersed under this pepper.

Misery, misery! Now I'm black and charred
through and through.

I'll never be snowy white
like a gracefully formed bird
I'll be twisted like a black raven.

Misery, misery!Now I'm black and charred
through and through.

Now I lie in the pan
unable to fly
I can see the gnashing teeth.

Misery, misery!Now I'm black and charred
through and through.

- from the Carmina Burana

V. Graffiti from a ninth-century manuscript

Antidoto cuivis Venus indiscreta choheret,
sed discreta Venus gaudet Ganimede tenello.
Certius hoc certo nichil est, quam quod Venus omnis
expers sit mellis, si Ganimede caret.

Corpore pigmeos, hos inguine crede gigantes,
nam longam caudam quisque pusillus habet.

Sit licet iste brevis, iactura tamen brevitatis
inguine pensatur, quod longum constat habere.

For relief the undiscriminating Venus embraces anything,
But the fussy Venus takes her delight in tender Ganymede.
Nothing is surer than this: Venus would be
Without honey if she were without Ganymede.

As for bodies, they're pigmies, but believe me they're giants in the crotch,
For each of these little men has a long tail.

Though they may be short, the lack of height
Is compensated in the crotch, which certainly has length.

VII. Parisius Paridi

Parisius Paridi.
Felix tua secula vidi,
infelix careo
nunc Ganimede meo.Vulgus mendicum,
nebulones, grex meretricum
turbaque lixarum
te sine leta parum.Cura tue Flore--
marcet sine te, sine flore
hit sitit--ut valeas,
plus tamen ut redeas.Nevolus absque pari
nescit de nocte iocari;
hic ait: "Hispo, redi,
cui mea vota dedi."Te sine mendico;
sed, si te tollis amico
et remeas sero,
publicus hospes ero.

- Serlo of Wilton (c. 1110-1181)

From a Parisian to Paris: happily I watched your life;
Now unhappily I miss my Ganymede.

All the crowds of beggars and bums, the flocks of whores,
And the mobs of camp followers have little joy without you.

Your Flora--drooping without you, thirsting without his flower-
His concern is that you be well, and even more that you return.

Nevolus without his mate can't play at night;
He says, "Hispo, return; I have pledged myself to you."

Without you I beg, but if you tear yourself from your friend
And return, even late, I will be host to the whole world.

VIII. Letter to Ausonius

Ego te per omne quod datum mortalibus
et destinatum saeculum est,
claudente donec continebor corpore,
discernar orbe quamlibet.Nec orbe longe nec remotum lumine
tenebo fibris insitum,
videbo corde, mente conplectar pia
ubique prasentem mihi.Et cum solutus corporali carcere
terraque provolavero,
quo me locarit axe communis pater,
illic quoque animo te geram.Neque finis idem, qui meo me corpore
et amore laxabit tuo;
mens quippe, lapsis quae superstes artubus
de stirpe durat caeliti,Sensus necesse est simul et adfectus suos
teneat aeque ut vitam suam,
et ut mori, sin oblivisci non capit,
perenne vivax et memor.Vale domine illustria.

- Paulinius of Nola (c. 353-431)

You and me: for all time which is given
And destined to mortal men,
For as long as I am held in this confined, limping body,
No matter how far I am separated from you in the world,
You will be neither distant from me or far from my eyes:
I will hold you, intermingled in my very sinews.
I will see you in my heart and with a loving spirit embrace you;
You will be with me everywhere.
And when released from this bodily prison
I fly from earth
To the spot in heaven where our universal Father places me,
There too I will keep you in my spirit;
Nor will the end which frees me from my body
Release me from your love.
For the mind once it has survived loss of limbs,
Continues to grow out of its heavenly root,
And therefore must keep both its understanding and affections
Along with its life.
And just as it experiences no death, it will experience no loss of memory
But remain forever alive, forever mindful.
Farewell noble master.

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