Friday, December 16, 2011

Echo et Speculum

Here is today's distich by John Owen, with an English translation by Thomas Harvey, 2.215. Owen wrote separate poems dedicated to the phenomena of echoes (Echo) and mirrors (Speculum), and here he combines them in an elegant paradox: the echo speaks but lacks a body to move with, while the mirror moves but lacks a voice to speak with!

Echo et SpeculumNil in se, praeter vocem, vitale habet echo.
Ut vivat, speculum non nisi voce caret.

Nothing of Life hath th’ Echo, but to squeake:
The Glass would seem to live, if it could speak.

The vocabulary is keyed to the DCC Latin Vocabulary list. There are only three words in this poem that are not on the DCC list:

ēcho, ēchūs f. - echo
speculum, speculī n. - looking-glass, mirror
vītālis, -e; vītālis - life (adj.), vital

careō -ēre -uī: lack (+ abl.)
et: and
habeō habēre habuī habitum: have, hold
in: in, on (+ abl.); into, onto (+ acc)
nihil, nīl: nothing; not at all
nisi/nī: if not, unless
nōn: not
praeter: by, along, past; besides, except (+ acc.)
sui, sibi, sē: him- her- itself
ut, uti: as (+ indic.); so that, with the result that (+ subj.)
vīvō vīvere vīxī victum: live
vōx vōcis f.: voice, utterance

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