Saturday, January 21, 2012

Mors Vitae Initium

Here is today's emblem and distich by Gabriel Rollenhagen, Book 1.21, with an English rendering by George Wither. You can see the ears of grain growing out of the skull, along with an hourglass, too, a symbolic element not mentioned in the poem. Meanwhile, you can see two contrasting human scenes in the background: on the left, a coffin is being carried in a funeral procession, while on the right, crops are being harvested from the field. (Luckily, no allusions to Soylent Green are implied or intended!)

Mors Vitae Initium
Grana velut putrefacta novas meditantur aristas;
Sic vitae mors est haec quoque principium.

Death is no Losse, but rather, Gaine;
For wee by Dying, Life attaine.

Here is the vocabulary:

mors - death
vita - life
initium - start
granum - grain, kernel
velut - just as
putrefactus - rotten, decayed
novus - new
meditor - ponder, plan, devise
arista - beard of grain, crop
sic - thus
sum - be, exist
hic - this, this one
quoque - also, likewise
principium - beginning

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