Monday, March 5, 2012

Possum, Volo, Nolo

308     -     309     -     310

Possum, Volo, Nolo
Quod volo non possum, quod possum nolo vicissim.
   Tota hominis vita est nil nisi nolo, volo.

I will, but cannot, what I can, I nill.
Mans totale Life is only Nill, and will.

Source: John Owen (c.1564-c.1628), Epigrammata, 5.34, with an English translation by Thomas Harvey. Meter: Elegiac.

I can't do (non possum) what I want to do (non volo); in turn (vicissim) what I can do (quod possum), I don't want to do (nolo). The whole life of man (tota vita homini) is not thing other than (est nil nisi) wanting and not wanting (nolo volo).

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

vicissim - in turn

homo hominis m.: human being
nihil, nīl: nothing; not at all
nisi/nī: if not, unless
nōlō nōlle nōluī: be unwilling
nōn: not
possum posse potuī: be able
qui quae quod: who, which, what / quis quid: who? what? which?
sum, esse, fuī: be, exist
tōtus -a -um: whole, entire
vīta -ae f.: life
volō velle voluī: wish, be willing