At the back of the hill

Warning: May contain traces of soy, wheat, lecithin and tree nuts. That you are here
strongly suggests that you are either omnivorous, or a glutton.
And that you might like cheese-doodles.
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Thursday, October 19, 2006

BROTHERS, LET US SING!

It was customary that those who graduated from Hertog Jan College in Valkenswaard host a party, at which fellow students would celebrate the miracle of one of their number actually passing the exams (oh frabjous day).


This usually meant that politics could be passionately argued until the sun rose, and many of those present had killed the braincells that held all the Latin and Greek so carefully jammed into them for six long years, plus much of everything else besides.


Time enough, over the summer, to Frankenstein-like revive some cells, so that the zombie-brain to which they belonged could then in autumn stumble into lectures at whichever university north of the rivers the exiled scholar infested.

[Sometimes there is little difference between academic youth and a golem. ]


I remember several fellow students trekking back into the wilds of Brabant for feast-days, and temporary relief from putting up with 'Ollanders. By the second or third day home they would be ready to relieve some pent-up tension (not something one can easily do in the bosom of the family).


BEER!

Imagine, if you will, a harshly lit space, with a delightful perfume of stale beer, sour coffee, and strong tobacco.

Some half a dozen ink-stained wretches, wearing academic robes, because what they have on underneath is utterly uncivilized (and smooty black most marvelously hides traces of past depravities), slouch in chairs at a long table. They are the only ones there.

Several two-pint pots (such a thing is known as a 'student' - only students order beer in such volume), coarse bread, garlic sausage. And many cheap cigars from a factory which specializes in cheroots that stink of clay, crap, and fermentation.


The beer is Dommelsch Oud Bruin - the barkeep wants to be finally rid of the vat (it being far less popular than Trappistyner). It is cheap. And therefore good.

The song below may precede the 'Internationale'. Or not. Both will be sung this night. And regretted the next morning.


Gaudeamus igitur,
Juvenus dum sumus.
Post jucundum juventutem,
Post molestam senectutem,
Nos habebit humus.


Let us by joyous,
While we are youthful.
After a cheery youth,
After a harrowing senescence,
The earth will hold us.

Ubi sunt qui ante nos,
In mundo fuere?
Vadite ad superos,
Transite in inferos,
Hos si vis videre.


Where are those who went ahead
In the world before us?
You could travel to the heavens,
Or go to the flames,
If them you wish to see them.


Vita nostra brevis est ,
Brevi finietur.
Venit mors velociter,
Rapit nos atrociter,
Nemini parcetur.


Our life is brief,
It soon will be finished.
Death comes rapidly,
Horrificly it seizes us,
No person is overlooked.



Vivat academia,
Vivant professores.
Vivat membrum quodlibet,
Vivat membra quaelibet,

Semper sint in flores.

Long live the academy,
Long live the teachers!
Long live each boy student,
Long live each girl student,
Let them ever flourish!



Vivant omnes virgines,
Faciles, formosae.
Vivant et mulieres,
Tenerae amabiles,
Bonae laboriosae.


Long live all the virgins,
Easy, and gorgeous.
And long live mature women,
Tender and charming,
Who strive (!) admirably.



Vivant et republica,
et qui illam regit.
Vivat nostra civitas,
Maecenatum caritas,
Quae nos hic protegit.

Long live the republic.
And he who rules it.
Long live our city,
And the benevolence of the charitable,
Who sponsor us here.



Pereat tristitia,
Pereant osores.
Pereat diabolus,
Quivis antiburschius,
Atque irrisores.


Let sadness vanish,
Let haters die.
Let the devil decease,
As whoever is against our college,
And whoever sneers at it too.



There were other songs. The Duke John song (Duke John I of Brabant, 1252 - 1294) , celebrating a triumph over Limburg (battle of Woeringen) seven and half centuries ago. The song about Bergen Op Zoom, besieged by the degenerate Spanish pig-wolf leech hordes. An utterly unprintable song about Saint John, involving perversions beyond measure (same tune as the Star Spangled Banner - I still have to fiercely pinch myself to keep from chortling inappropriately).
And several lopsided versions of other popular chants.


One song, which is taught to little kinderlech, is in a dense version of mediaeval Dutch.
[It was written by the same Duke John mentioned above.]

Eens meien morgens vroege,
Was ic upghestaan;
In een scoen boemgerdekine,
Soudic spelen gaen.
Daar vant ic drie joncfrouwen staen,
Si waren so wael ghedaen,
Dene sanc voor, dander sanc na,
Harba lorifa, harba harba lorifa, harba lorifa!

Doe ic versach dat scone cruut,
In den boemgardekijn;
Ende ic verhoorde dat sute gheluut,
Van den magheden fijn;
Doe verblide dat herte mijn,
Dat ic moeste singhen na,
Harba lorifa, harba harba lorifa, harba lorifa!

Doe groette ic die alre-scoenste,
Die daer onder stont.
Ic liet mine arme al omme gaen,
Doe ter selver stont;
Ic woudse cussen an haren mont,
Si sprac 'Laet staen, laet staen, laet staen!'
Harba lorifa, harba harba lorifa, harba lorifa!


It is good that it is dense and mediaeval.

Were it otherwise, the children and their parents would understand that it is about the courtly seduction of three fair damsels in an orchard.
Hardly fit for the young, no matter how precious a literary inheritance from the past.


Now, let us bang our fists on the table, and sing of the passions of youth.

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3 Comments:

  • At 7:13 AM, Blogger Lipman said…

    Vivant omnes virgines,
    Faciles, formosae.

    Long live all the virgins,
    Easy, and gorgeous.


    Nicely translates 19th century European students' licentiousness into today's US fraternity cultureā€¦

     
  • At 12:50 PM, Blogger The back of the hill said…

    Note that it is customary to leave off several of the verses of Gaudeamus, singing only the first, fourth, and sixth stanza.

    Thus:

    Gaudeamus igitur,
    Juvenus dum sumus.
    Gaudeamus igitur,
    Juvenus dum sumus.
    Post jucundum juventutem,
    Post molestam senectutem,
    Nos habebit humus.
    Nos habebit humus.


    Vivat academia,
    Vivant professores.
    Vivat academia,
    Vivant professores.
    Vivat membrum quodlibet,
    Vivat membra quaelibet,
    Semper sint in flores.
    Semper sint in flores.


    Vivant et republica,
    et qui illam regit.
    Vivant et republica,
    et qui illam regit.
    Vivat nostra civitas,
    Maecenatum caritas,
    Quae nos hic protegit.
    Quae nos hic protegit.

     
  • At 12:57 PM, Blogger The back of the hill said…

    For a long version, accompanied by overmuch beer, sing all stanzas twice, then repeat the entire thing because you may have forgotten where you started.

    And once more for good measure, in a different tempo.

    Repeat.

    It drives barkeeps mad.

     

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