CVS Poetry (Part 2)

Following on from “Daffodils“, here’s another lovingly crafted example of CVS checkin comment poetry – “Dulce Et Decorum Est“. It’s taken almost exactly a year to do. I chose that poem because it’s a childhood favourite, and a timely reminder of the lies behind gung-ho encouragements to war.

For those who don’t read Latin, “Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori” means “It is good and right to die for your country”.

And I so nearly got it perfectly right, too… spot the deliberate mistake.

7 thoughts on “CVS Poetry (Part 2)

  1. Well done you! “It is sweet and proper to die for one’s country”, it’s been a long time since my latin learning days.

  2. Man, I am sooooooo lost. I must not be as geekie as I thought I was? Or my USA public school education has failed me again!! Darn that Mrs. Crabapple.

  3. Owen: You are right; it does mean sweet, not good.

    Although, thinking about it, the idiomatic translation of “dulce et decorum est” would probably be “it is right and proper”.

  4. It’s a quote from the latin poet Horace, and it seems that, in this context, decorum means honorable.

    By the way, in France (and in other countries, I think), this quote is written on some war memorials: “Dulce et decorum (est) pro patria mori” (in latin the verb can be omitted when it is such obvious). I could look in my old latin dictionary, but it is a latin-french one, so I’ll need to translate in english again.
    It is always difficult to translate all the meanings contained in such few words in latin, for it is a very concise language.

    Another prase to be meditated: “Felix qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas”, Virgil (Georgics II, 489).

  5. As I promised, I looked in my old ‘Gaffiot’ (name of the latin/french dictionary) for the meanings of ‘dulce’ and ‘decorum’. Excuse me if it is not very clear, I have the translation in french and must translate back in english:

    dulce: sweet but also nice, pleasant and cherished
    decorum est + inf (mori is the infinitive verb): It is advisable to + inf

    So it could be translated: “It is advisable and must be cherished to die for one’s country”. It is well known that the romans (particularly the stoicians) were often willing to die for something valuable and in an honorable way. What more honorable way than giving his life for his country?

    Of course, dulce means also sweet, but who could say death is sweet? Even a stoician would not (if it were sweet, it probably would not be honorable).

    Another meaning of this verse could be (but I’m pretty sure it is not): “And it is advisable to die for one’s beloved country” (given that the order of the words in latin – moreover in poetry – has no importance and that the logical anlysis says it is grammatically correct).

    That’s amazing how one can torture a verse and find different meanings.

    Thanks a lot, Gerv’… It was a long time since I did this ;)

  6. By no means it’s honorable. No mater what word they used to use for that. Anyway how can it be sweet to die for one’s country?