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Rate my elegiac couplet!

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Rate my elegiac couplet!

Postby Discipulus Tristis » Sat Apr 10, 2010 2:20 am

Hello,

I've been attempting to write an elegiac couplet, and I'd really like to get some constructive feedback on what I've come up with. The sentiment in this epigram was inspired by Morrissey's hilariously malicious song "We Hate It when Our Friends Become Successful":

Dē invidiā

Nullum mī peius est quam fortūnātus amīcus:
Tollitur in caelum, dum miser hīc maneō.


Thanks in advance, and if anyone else has attempted to use this verse form, please share!

DT
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Re: Rate my elegiac couplet!

Postby Damoetas » Mon Apr 12, 2010 4:42 am

That looks good to me; no technical problems with the meter, it's grammatically correct, natural, and makes sense!

I've often thought about writing elegiac couplets (or any kind of Greek and Latin verse), but whenever I try it, I discover that it's a lot harder than it looks :(
Dic mihi, Damoeta, 'cuium pecus' anne Latinum?
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Re: Rate my elegiac couplet!

Postby Didymus » Mon Apr 12, 2010 12:53 pm

Few things can draw me out of the library these days, but verse composition is one of them. A few notes:

Ending a pentameter with a trisyllable is perhaps a matter of taste, and so I shall say only de gustibus. The sentiment and pointed antithesis are very Latin-elegiac, as is of course the phrase tollere in caelum in its various forms. The hexameter, however, labors under a few difficulties. De rebus metricis: peius is trochaic here, so the line won't scan. Fix that and I think some other things will take care of themselves. Some word notes: nullum = nihil is unusual, and I would avoid mi = mihi unless you have specifically chosen Catullus to imitate. A rhetorical question would work well in the hexameter.

A little revision and I think it will turn out very well indeed.
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Re: Rate my elegiac couplet!

Postby Discipulus Tristis » Mon Apr 12, 2010 11:41 pm

Thanks you both for the comments, and thank you Didymus for the very helpful suggestions.

I corrected the grammatical and metrical mistakes (I think), and I decided to try finishing the pentameter with a disyllable:

Est mihi pēius nihil quam fortūnātus amīcus.
Tollitur in caelum, dum moror acris ego.

Does that seem better? Thank goodness for Whitaker's Gradus ad Parnassum! Writing this was a serious challenge (at least 2-3 hours of work, probably more) but it was very rewarding. Hopefully it will get easier as I get more comfortable with what works and what doesn't.

DT
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Re: Rate my elegiac couplet!

Postby Didymus » Tue Apr 13, 2010 12:43 am

A few quick thoughts. First, peius has here become a spondee, so metrical problems again ensue. It's getting better though. In the pentameter, only write acris if you are female (or perhaps following Ennius). What sense of the adjective are you looking for here? Ego at the end is a bit of a cop-out, unless it were contrasting with something like ille in the first half of the pentameter. What could you form a contrast with? Well, if the one you love to hate is being extolled in caelum, perhaps you are in turn stuck "on the ground": humi. The antithesis would give slightly more punch to the ending.

For the few who persevere, this definitely gets easier with practice, and you've made an excellent start.
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Re: Rate my elegiac couplet!

Postby Discipulus Tristis » Tue Apr 13, 2010 6:03 pm

Darn! Writing a couplet like this is almost like doing sudoku: you think you've finally figured it out, and then you notice some glaring error. Nevertheless, I think this one makes sense metrically and grammatically. I really like the contrast that humi sets up, so thank you for that! I also decided to include the adjective aeger, which I think strengthens the associations between jealousy, death, and sickness in the pentameter.

Est nihilum pēius quam fortūnātus amicus.
Tollitur in caelum, dum moror aeger humi.

Hopefully that's correct. Thanks again for the help!
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Re: Rate my elegiac couplet!

Postby Didymus » Tue Apr 13, 2010 9:44 pm

Yes, what you've got is now metrical. I'm a little skeptical about nihilum (at any rate in elegiacs, and probably in general in the nominative), and I think you've lost something by no longer having mihi. Nevertheless, how much you want to continue to tinker is up to you. It doesn't make sense to obsess over it too much. If you do want to keep playing with it, don't feel tied to what you've already got: for example, a moment's thought will call to mind that an alternative to quam in comparisons is the simple ablative. Amicus is obviously integral to the line, and amico will want to stand only at the end, as you've placed it. What can come before it? Again, to keep one of your words, peius will do nicely. A bit of polyptoton might be fun, and so we might think of malum, which is a fine iamb to stand after a trochaic caesura (you must place an iamb there!). You could then follow it with mihi, and the second half of your line is complete. You still want something expressing the notion of "fortunate" in the first half; a word for rejoicing might do, and a present participle can end with the short that you need before the trochaic caesura: try gaudente, which will create the expected strong caesura in the second foot to support the trochaic in the third. Now you just need something to introduce the line: I liked the idea of a rhetorical question, so how about esse potest? Altogether then: esse potest gaudente malum mihi peius amico?

I don't put that forward as "the" solution but rather as one of many possible lines; you can probably come up with far better ones. I've explained how I got there only because I wish when I was just starting out I would have had someone explain his thought process to me!
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Re: Rate my elegiac couplet!

Postby NYGfreak10 » Thu May 06, 2010 7:46 pm

Hey i was wondering if i have permission to use your elegiac couplet for my latin project? it would be nice if you can get back to me as soon as possible.
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Re: Rate my elegiac couplet!

Postby NYGfreak10 » Fri May 07, 2010 11:00 am

Hello,
I was wondering if i have permission to use you poem as a elegiac coulet for my latin project?
Thanks
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