Carmen prestet Deus celi

Author unknown
Genre Poem
Keywords 14th century, beggar’s song, Latin, macaronic language, Old Czech
Title (in Czech) Carmen prestet Deus celi
Title (in English translation) May the heavenly Lord help us
Editor Andrea Svobodová – Kateřina Voleková
Translator Walter Schamschula
Edited source Brno, Moravská zemská knihovna, Mk 20 (formerly Mikulov II 175), fol. 200r
Introduction Walter Schamschula – Andrea Svobodová
TEI P5 XML Encoding Matěj Čermák – Michal Mocňák – Ondřej Tichý
Summary of content Latin-Czech (macaronic) song containing a satire on student life.
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Introduction to the Text

Carmen prestet Deus celi (‘May the heavenly Lord help us’) is a beggar’s song using macaronic language, i.e. mixing the vernacular language with Latin. Unlike other examples of this type of burlesque poetry, Latin and the vernacular are arranged in a very systematic way: every stanza consists of 6 verses from which the lines 1, 3, 4 and 6 are Latin, lines 2 and 5 Czech. Not only do the Czech verses rhyme with the preceding Latin ones, the particular effect of this poem is based on the fact that these rhymes are in many cases identical, making use of the similarity of certain sound combinations in both languages: e.g. celi (coeli) – celý; radirádi; gravikrávy, etc. The only exception is the last stanza.

The poem is an appeal to the generosity of various ranks of the clergy (O plebani, o prelati – ‘O plebans, O prelates’), to whom it describes the deplorable state of the vagrants using black humor.

Introduction to the Sources

The song has been preserved in two copies, one from the second half of the 15th century (Brno, Moravská zemská knihovna, Mk 20, fol. 200r; available online), the other from the first half of the 15th century (Praha, Národní knihovna České republiky, X E 13, fol. 227r; not available online).

About this Edition

The edition contains a standardized transcription of the sole surviving manuscript (Brno, Moravská zemská knihovna, Mk 20, fol. 200r), taking into account the edition of Walter Schamschula (cf. Schamschula 1991, see Existing editions below).

The present translation has been taken, with the permission of Walter Schamschula, from the text of his edition. No textual changes have been made to the text, and only obvious typographical errors have been removed (cf. Schamschula 1991, see Existing editions below). The English translation of both the Czech and Latin verses may be considered only an aid to the understanding of the original, since it is impossible to reproduce the particular effects of Latin-Czech homonymy and the constant alternation between scholarly (medieval) Latin and the vernacular.

The introductory information, based on Schamschula´s edition, has been supplemented from new contributions on the topic.

Existing Editions

Fejfalik, Julius: Altčechische Leiche, Lieder und Sprüche des XIV. und XV. Jahrhunderts, Sitzungsberichte der Wiener Akademie der Wissenchaften (Philosophisch-Historische Klasse) 39, 1862, pp. 720-722 [semi-diplomatic transcription].

Výbor z české literatury od počátků po dobu Husovu, Bohuslav Havránek a kol. (eds.), Praha 1957, pp. 445-447 [ms. Mk 20; standardized transcription].

Carmen prestet Deus celi/My the heavenly Lord help us, in: An Anthology of Czech Literature. 1st Period: from the Beginnings until 1410, Walter Schamschula (ed.), Frankfurt am Main – Bern – New York – Paris 1991, pp. 79-82 [ms. Mk 20; standardized transcription].

Existing translations

Carmen prestet Deus celi/My the heavenly Lord help us, in: An Anthology of Czech Literature. 1st Period: from the Beginnings until 1410, Walter Schamschula (ed.), Frankfurt am Main – Bern – New York – Paris 1991, pp. 79-82 [ms. Mk 20].

Further Reading

Vilikovský, Jan: Latinská poesie žákovská v Čechách, Bratislava 1932, pp. 61, 70-72.

Černý, Václav: Staročeská milostná lyrika, Praha 1948, pp. 105-132.

Edition


MECZ [online], Carmen prestet Deus celi, ed. unknown, trans. Walter Schamschula. KREAS Faculty of Arts, Charles University, Retrieved 07.12.2022, from https://mecz.kreas.ff.cuni.cz/publication/carmen-prestet-deus-celi/ Bibtex citation

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