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…of the first of this year’s tree frog cohort leaving the water, a poetry translation break.

senem in lacus

ranunculus saltabat—

sonitus aquae!

I’m being a bit self-referential here, because this is my (rather hasty) Latin translation of a classic haiku, suggested by Wickedday‘s delightful and wistful poem, inspired by my original frog post.

I was hoping to arrange matters such that the haiku would also scan as a hexameter, but that didn’t work. (Anyone who can improve on this, or who has corrections, please chime in!)

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Corrections and suggestions welcome. Many nerd points if you can identify the English passage I have translated here.

iucundus est ripam contortam contemplare, multis cum plantis multorum generum adopertam, avibus in arbusculis canentibus, insectis variis passim pervolantibus, vermibus per terram humidam correpentibus, et meditari formas curiose factas, tam dissimiles, tamque connexas*, a legibus circa agentibus fictas esse. hae leges, sensu latissimo, sunt Auctus cum Procreatione; Hereditas quae paene a procreatione denotatur; Variatio ex actione obliqua rectaque conditionum externalum vitae, et ex usu desuetudineque; Modus Incrementi tam magnus quo certamen vitae, etiam Selectionem Naturalem, efficiat, afferentem** Declinationem Proprietatis et Extinctionem formarum inferiorum. ergo, ex bello naturae, ex fame morteque, exaltissima res quam coniectare possumus, productio enim bestiarum superiorum, recta sequitur. maiestas est in hoc conspectu vitae, viribus diversis, in formas paucas unamve afflatis; et quod***, cum haec planeta ex lege fixa gravitationis circumrotaverit****, tam simplicio ab initio formae infinitae formosissimae mirissimaeque evolutus sunt et evolvuntur.

*connexas: One of several examples in which the Latin as I’ve translated it is much more succinct than the English. That, or I’m completely overlooking the complexity of the idea expressed.

**afferentem: Too many accusatives! This one is modifying selectionem and has declinationem and extinctionem as direct objects.

***quod: used in the sense of “that”/”the fact that”, followed by an indicative. Refers to hoc conspectu vitae; this is not obvious in the English  original. Translating is a good way to untangle all the clauses of a Victorian English sentence!

****circumrotaverit: Unfortunately, my knowledge of Latin verb tenses can’t reproduce the precise meaning of the English “has gone cycling on”.

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