Fleur Adcock’s lively translation of this selection of medieval Latin lyrics was first published in 1983, revealing many poetic treasures hidden in for centuries in scholarly obscurity. The poems are about birds – particularly the nightingale – and young women. Most are by monks or clerics, and most are rather rude.
Several are by Peter of Blois, a scholar and diplomat who turned to religion in his later years and disclaimed the brilliant erotic verses of his youth. The middle section of the book presents a selection of poems by this highly accomplished and entertaining writer - who was political secretary to Henry II and later to his widow Eleanor of Aquitaine.
Many of the poems were rhymed, unlike classical Latin poetry, and wherever possible Fleur Adcock has attempted to reproduce the form and rhyme-scheme of the original. In these ratty and lively translations Fleur Adcock combines classical scholarship with her own poetic flair and technical skill. The Latin poems are printed alongside her verse translations.
'Buoyantly accurate and great fun to read, especially the randier pieces by Peter of Blois and those from the Carmina Burana' – Peter Porter.
'Lively, rude and eminently readable' – Adrian Henri.
'A very high achievement' – Gavin Ewart.