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A Pygmalion-esque Elegy

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A Pygmalion-esque Elegy

Postby Sebastian Swift » Sun May 15, 2005 4:09 am

This is my very first attempt at composing Latin poetry, which previously I'd thought too daring a task as I can't even compose prose properly. Anyway, I spent about an hour composing this elegy. I'm not very confident in the validity of the poem's grammar, diction, and meter: hence, I'm posting it for criticism.

Suffocatae herbosorum fumo puellae
oppidi expelluntque oraque tusses pudor;
tam cupidus sum ego ut oppidum relinquam
et quae faciant honore puellas petam.

If the poem translates as intended, you'll understand what it has to do with Pygmalion.
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Sebastian Swift
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Postby whiteoctave » Sun May 15, 2005 1:12 pm

ignoring the sense i could extract, the problems with metre are as follows:

the first line is lacking a short syllable after fumo, and is rather spondaic indeed.
the second syllable of oppidi is short, and thus with the elision of the word the line begins with a cretic (-u-), which is impossible. elision over between each hemiepes is to be avoided (here of -que); -que is generally avoided after short final a (although this is one of the more abstruse rules); tusses scans as a spondee before pudor, where a trochee is needed.
the third line is missing a couple of feet or so. sum and ego elide, giving the scansion -uu/-uu/-u/-u/--. the fifth foot dactyl is not satisfied here either, though it is necessary for the typical hexameter line. elision of a monosyllable, like sum, is to be avoided in general.
the last line is, i presume, a pentameter. it scans, however, as --/uu/-//u-uu/--/uu. the main problems are a syllable lacking in the first half of the line (aka the former hemiepes) after et/quae. honore scans as an amphibrach (u-u) and would thus be better before petam, for puellas scans as a bacchius (u--), which is impossible in any place in the pentameter.

as a first attempt, you show signs of knowing the basic metre, but as with Aurelia points of scansion are causing some important problems. there is a link on the page of this Composition board to rules for composing Latin elegy that may be of some use, but for simple matters of scansion one will need to look elsewhere.

~D
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Postby Sebastian Swift » Sun May 15, 2005 8:05 pm

Thanks so much, whiteoctave. It was so fun composing just those four butchered lines; I will be sure to persist until I can compose a poem without having you drain yourself of every last drop of wisdom in order to point out my mistakes.
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