Thursday, April 28, 2016


"Omnia sol temperat," I remarked on Facebook on the first warm day of last year after a long, cold and snowy winter. I added in parentheses, "It's about time" -- to the bewilderment of at least one Facebook Friend, who tried to make "It's about time" into a translation of the Latin phrase.

Omnia sol temperat means "the sun warms everything." I thought that would be reasonably obvious to the audience in my head to which I direct such things (that would be my son and a couple of friends). It's the title of one of the songs in Carmina Burana, a 1935/1936 choral setting by Carl Orff of 11th-13th century poems written by students traveling between universities (admissions processes were a lot looser in the Middle Ages than at present); unfrocked clergy; and other more or less educated young men with, as a much later song has it, no particular place to go. Many of the Carmina Burana poems deal with the immemorial preoccupations of that demographic group -- drinking, gambling, and fornication -- but a good number, including Omnia Sol Temperat, celebrate the coming of spring.

In Italy, Spain, Greece, and locales with similarly benign climates, spring gets a poetic nod from time to time but isn't hailed with quite the joy it inspires farther north. These wandering scholars -- who sometimes lived by begging and/or thieving and didn't reliably know where their next night's lodging was coming from -- must have wandered through latitudes where spring would have been more than welcome.

I generally take the weather as it comes; but last year I was almost as glad as a Medieval ne'er-do-well to find the sun warming the world at last.

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