Friday, March 23, 2012

Vita Mortalium Vigilia

Here is today's emblem and distich by Gabriel Rollenhagen, Book 1.82, with an English rendering by George Wither. The opening stanza of Wither's poem explains some of the details you can see in the emblem:
When, on this Child-like-figure, thou shalt looke,
Which, with his Light, his Houre-glasse, and his booke,
Sits, in a watching-posture, formed here;
And, when thou hast perus'd that Motto, there,
On which he layes his hand; thy selfe apply
To what it counselleth; and, learne to die,
While that Light burnes, and, that short-houre doth last,
Which, for this Lesson, thou obtained hast.
If you look at the words written on the child's open book, they say: DISCE MORI.

Vita Mortalium Vigilia
Vana velut nil sunt vigilatae insomnia noctis;
Sic spatium est, quod in hoc vivimus orbe, nihil.

Death's one long-Sleepe; and, Life's no more
But one short-Watch, an houre before.

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:

insomnis -e, pl. insomnia n. - sleeplessness, lack of sleep
vigilia f. - keeping watch, wakefulness
vigilō -āre: be awake, be on guard

hic haec hoc: this; hōc: on this account
in: in, on (+ abl.); into, onto (+ acc)
mortālis -e: liable to death, mortal
nihil, nīl: nothing; not at all
nox noctis f.: night
orbis -is m.: circle; orbis terrārum: world
qui quae quod: who, which, what / quis quid: who? what? which?
sīc: in this manner, thus; sīc . . . ut: in the same way as
spatium -iī n.: space
sum, esse, fuī: be, exist
vanus -a -um: empty; false, deceitful
velut: even as, just as
vīta -ae f.: life
vīvō vīvere vīxī victum: live