armistice_day: (o fortuna . velut luna)
[personal profile] armistice_day
The Carmina Burana, is a collection of medieval poetry featuring themes that range from the religious to the political, the moral to the erotic, and the Bacchic to the Satirical. Found collected in a monastery, the Songs of Beuren were the work of "goliards", defrocked monks, vagrant students, minor clerics and minstrels. Today, the most famous (read: most abused and and overworked) of these songs is the O Fortuna (Imperatrix Mundi)-- a rail against Lady Luck Herself, set to music by Carl Orff.

Reading the lyric, it's plain that there really is nothing new under the sun. After all, who is there who hasn't felt utterly forsaken from time to time?

...

Fortune,
like the moon you are changeable,
ever waxing and waning;

Hateful,
life first oppresses and then soothes
as fancy takes it;

Poverty and power, it melts them like ice.

Fate--
monstrous and empty, you whirling wheel, you are malevolent,
well-being is in vain and always fades to nothing
shadowed and veiled, you plague me too;

Now, through the game, I bring my bare back to your villainy.

Fate is against me,
in health and virtue driven on and weighed down,
always enslaved.

So at this hour, without delay
pluck the vibrating strings;
since Fate strikes down the strong man
all weep with me!


...

Since this poem was meant to be heard as a song, I feel it's fitting to include a performance in this post. This is a fine one, by the LSO under Richard Hickox.
As hard as it is to divorce this music from its familiar, modern context, try to put the million movie trailers, explosions, and nervous breakdowns aside and take it in. It's well worth the effort.

[It's also a hell of a lot of fun to sing.]

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