Orientis Partibus (Song of the Ass)

Orientis partibus

In eastern lands,

adventavit asinus

the ass arrived,

pulcher et fortissimus

pretty and so strong,

sarcinis aptissimus

fit for burden.

   

Hez, sire asne, Hez

Get up, Sir Ass, get up

   

Saltu vincit hinnulos

In his leaps he conquers the mules,

damas et capreolos

the fallow deer and roebucks,

super dromedarios

and surpasses the fast

velox madianeos

camels of the Medes.

   

Hic in collibus Sychen

Here in the hills of Sychen,

iam nutritus sub Ruben

already suckled below the Ruben,

transiit per Jordanem

he crosses the Jordan;

saliit in Bethlehem

he enters Bethlehem.

   

Dum trahit vehicula

While he pulls carts,

multa cum sarcinula

many with heavy loads,

illius mandibula

his jaws

dura terit pabula

grind tough fodder.

   

Cum aristis, hordeum

He eats barley, beards and all,

comedit et carduum

and spiny thistles.

triticum ex palea

He separates the wheat from the chaff

segregat in area

on the threshing floor.

   

Amen dicas, asine

You say "amen", ass,

Iam satur ex gramine

all filled with grass,

amen, amen itera

"amen", "amen" once again,

aspernare vetera

spurning the past.

English translation © 1998 by Curtis Clark. Licensed for personal use only; all other rights reserved, including right of republication in any form.


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