Latin Jabberwocky! – For Keats’ Sake

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[CJ Hinke comments: Meredith Wise is the mystery editor of Dappled Things, a quirky online Catholic literary journal. She’s also a California to North Carolina back to California, middle-school Latin teacher at Live Oak Academy which caters to Christian homeschoolers. She loves poetry, and Latin.]

http://forkeatssake.blogspot.com/2008/05/latin-jabberwocky.html

jabberwocky

This amazing bit of neo-Latin was composed by Lewis Carroll’s uncle:

Gaberbocchus by Hassard H. Dodgson

Hora aderat briligi. Nunc et Slythia Tova

Plurima gyrabant gymbolitare vabo;

Et Borogovorum mimzebant undique formae,

Momiferique omnes exgrabuere Rathi.

“Cave, Gaberbocchum moneo tibi, nate, cavendum!

(Unguibus ille rapit. Dentibus ille necat.)

Et fuge Jubbubum, quo non infestior ales,

Et Bandersnatcham, quae fremit usque, cave.”

Ille autem gladium vorpalem cepit, et hostem

Manxonium longa sedulitate petit;

Tum sub tumtummi requiescens arboris umbra

Stabat tranquillus, multa animo meditans.

Dum requiescebat meditans uffishia, monstrum

Praesens ecce! oculis cui fera flamma micat,

Ipse Gaberbocchus dumeta per horrida sifflans

Ibat, et horrendum burbuliabat iens!

Ter, quater, atque iterum cito vorpalissimus ensis

Snicsnaccans penitus viscera dissecuit.

Exanimum corpus linquens caput abstulit heros

Quocum galumphat multa, domumque redit.

“Tune Gaberbocchum potuisti, nate, necare?

Bemiscens puer! ad brachia nostra veni.

Oh! frabiusce dies! iterumque caloque calaque

Laetus eo” ut chortlet chortla superba senex.

Hora aderat briligi. Nunc et Slythia Tova

Plurima gyrabant gymbolitare vabo;

Et Borogovorum mimzebant undique formae,

Momiferique omnes exgrabuere Rathi.

It’s in elegiacs, and I’m pretty sure that it riffs on Ovid’s version of the fight between Hercules and Cacus:

occupat Alcides, adductaque clava trinodis

ter quater adverso sedit in ore viri.

Notice the little touches like “Tum sub tumtummi,” where the Latin lends its own sort of absurdity to the nonsense words. And the mock-epic phrases: “Et fuge Jubbubum, quo non infestior ales” – literally, “And flee the Jubjub, than which no bird is more hostile.” And “vorpalissimus” and “snicsnaccans”… what can I say? They make me feel all warm and fuzzy.

There are actually three Latin translations of “Jabberwocky” on the internet. Obviously this was a popular way of wasting time in the nineteenth century.

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