Saturday, February 25, 2012

Qui Me Alit, Me Extinguit

Here is today's emblem and distich by Gabriel Rollenhagen, Book 1.56, with an English rendering by George Wither. Here is more of Wither's poem:
The little Sparkes which rak'd in Embers lie,
Are kindly kindled by a gentle blast:
And, brands in which the fire begins to die
Revive by blowing; and, flame out at last.
The selfe same wind, becomming over strong,
Quite bloweth out againe that very flame;
Or, else, consumes away (ere it be long)
That wasting substance, which maintain'd the same.
As you can see, the idea is that the movement of air can both stir the flame into life, but a blast of air can also put the flame out. So too, love, which fosters and stirs us, can also lay us low, even though we might not see it coming.

Qui Me Alit, Me Extinguit
Qui me alit, extinguit; qui me fovet et movet, ille,
Cum minime credo, me necat, hostis amor.

From that, by which I somewhat am
The Cause of my Destruction came.

If you look closely, you can see Cupid causing trouble in the background:

Here is the vocabulary:

qui - who, which, that
ego - I, me
alo - feed, nourish, support
extinguo - extinguish, kill, destroy
foveo - keep warm, maintain, foster
et - and
moveo - move
ille - that, that one
cum - when
minime - least of all, not at all
credo - believe, trust, suppose
neco - slay, kill
hostis - enemy
amor - love