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Carmina Burana selections

Page history last edited by nathan rein 10 years, 4 months ago

Carmina Burana selections

The Carmina Burana ("Songs of Beuren") is a collection of troubadour songs dating to the mid-thirteenth century or possibly as early as the tenth. They are believed to have been composed and sung by wandering bands of renegade monks and priests, homeless scholars, troublemakers and revelers. They are particularly notable for their praise of alcohol and sex and for their rejection -- possibly serious, possibly tongue-in-cheek -- of Christian piety and ethics.



O Fortune,

like the moon

you are changeable,

ever waxing

and waning;

hateful life

first oppresses

and then soothes

as fancy takes it;


and power

it melts them like ice.


Fate - monstrous

and empty,

you whirling wheel,

you are malevolent,

well-being is vain

and always fades to nothing,


and veiled

you plague me too;

now through the game

I bring my bare back

to your villainy.


Fate is against me

in health

and virtue,

driven on

and weighted down,

always enslaved.

So at this hour

without delay

pluck the vibrating strings;

since Fate

strikes down the string man,

everyone weep with me!



I bemoan the wounds of Fortune

with weeping eyes,

for the gifts she made me

she perversely takes away.

It is written in truth,

that she has a fine head of hair,

but, when it comes to seizing an opportunity

she is bald.


On Fortune's throne

I used to sit raised up,

crowned with

the many-coloured flowers of prosperity;

though I may have flourished

happy and blessed,

now I fall from the peak,deprived of glory.


The wheel of Fortune turns;

I go down, demeaned;

another is raised up;

far too high up

sits the king at the summit -

let him fear ruin!

for under the axis is written

Queen Hecuba.



I am the abbot of Cockaigne

and my assembly is one of drinkers,

and I wish to be in the order of Decius,

and whoever searches me out at the tavern in the morning,

after Vespers he will leave naked,

and thus stripped of his clothes he will call out:

Wafna, wafna! [Woe! Woe!]

what have you done, vilest Fate?

the joys of my life

you have taken all away!



When we are in the tavern,

we do not think how we will go to dust,

but we hurry to gamble,

which always makes us sweat.

What happens in the tavern,

where money is host,

you may well ask,

and hear what I say.


Some gamble, some drink,

some behave loosely.

But of those who gamble,

some are stripped bare,

some win their clothes here,

some are dressed in sacks.

Here no-one fears death,

but they throw the dice in the name of Bacchus.


First of all it is to the wine-merchant

the the libertines drink,

one for the prisoners,

three for the living,

four for all Christians,

five for the faithful dead,

six for the loose sisters,

seven for the footpads in the wood,


Eight for the errant brethren,

nine for the dispersed monks,

ten for the seamen,

eleven for the squabblers,

twelve for the penitent,

thirteen for the wayfarers.

To the Pope as to the king

they all drink without restraint.


The mistress drinks, the master drinks,

the soldier drinks, the priest drinks,

the man drinks, the woman drinks,

the servant drinks with the maid,

the swift man drinks, the lazy man drinks,

the white man drinks, the black man drinks,

the settled man drinks, the wanderer drinks,

the stupid man drinks, the wise man drinks,


The poor man drinks, the sick man drinks,

the exile drinks, and the stranger,

the boy drinks, the old man drinks,

the bishop drinks, and the deacon,

the sister drinks, the brother drinks,

the old lady drinks, the mother drinks,

this man drinks, that man drinks,

a hundred drink, a thousand drink.


Six hundred pennies would hardly

suffice, if everyone

drinks immoderately and immeasurably.

However much they cheerfully drink

we are the ones whom everyone scolds,

and thus we are destitute.

May those who slander us be cursed

and may their names not be written in the book of the righteous.



A girl stood

in a red tunic;

if anyone touched it,

the tunic rustled.



A girl stood

like a little rose:

her face was radiant

and her mouth in bloom.



A girl stood

in a red tunic;

if anyone touched it,

the tunic rustled.



A girl stood

like a little rose:

her face was radiant

and her mouth in bloom.




If a boy with a girl

tarries in a little room,

happy is their coupling.

Love rises up,

and between them

prudery is driven away,

an ineffable game begins

in their limbs, arms and lips.



In the wavering balance of my feelings

set against each other

lascivious love and modesty.

But I choose what I see,

and submit my neck to the yoke;

I yield to the sweet yoke.

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