Carmen Possum

Carmen Possum

"Carmen Possum" is a popular 80-line macaronic poem written in a mix of Latin and English. Its author is unknown, but given its theme and language it can be surmised that he or she was from the United States, and either a teacher or a student of Latin.

The poem takes off from a play of words in the title: "possum" means "I can" in Latin, and "opossum" in colloquial English. Thus, while "carmen possum" sounds like valid Latin, it only makes sense when translated as "The Opossum's Song".

The poem can be used as a pedagogical device for elementary Latin teaching. The language mix includes vocabulary, morphology ("turnus") and grammar ("trunkum longum").

"Carmen Possum" is also a musical piece by Normand Lockwood.

The poem

:THE NOX was lit by lux of Luna,:And 'twas a nox most opportuna:To catch a possum or a coona;:For nix was scattered o'er this mundus,:A shallow nix, et non profundus.:On sic a nox with canis unus,:Two boys went out to hunt for coonus.:The corpus of this bonus canis:Was full as long as octo span is,:But brevior legs had canis never:Quam had hic dog; et bonus clever.:Some used to say, in stultum jocum:Quod a field was too small locum:For sic a dog to make a turnus:Circum self from stem to sternus.:Unis canis, duo puer,:Nunquam braver, nunquam truer,:Quam hoc trio nunquam fuit,:If there was I never knew it.:This bonus dog had one bad habit,:Amabat much to tree a rabbit,:Amabat plus to chase a rattus,:Amabat bene tree a cattus.:But on this nixy moonlight night:This old canis did just right.:Nunquam treed a starving rattus,:Nunquam chased a starving cattus,:But sucurrit on, intentus:On the track and on the scentus,:Till he trees a possum strongum,:In a hollow trunkum longum.:Loud he barked in horrid bellum,:Seemed on terra vehit pellum.:Quickly ran the duo puer:Mors of possum to secure.:Quam venerit, one began:To chop away like quisque man.:Soon the axe went through the truncum:Soon he hit it all kerchunkum;:Combat deepens, on ye braves!:Canis, pueri et staves:As his powers non longius carry,:Possum potest non pugnare.:On the nix his corpus lieth.:Down to Hades spirit flieth,:Joyful pueri, canis bonus,:Think him dead as any stonus.:Now they seek their pater's domo,:Feeling proud as any homo,:Knowing, certe, they will blossom:Into heroes, when with possum:They arrive, narrabunt story,:Plenus blood et plenior glory.:Pompey, David, Samson, Caesar,:Cyrus, Black Hawk, Shalmanezer!:Tell me where est now the gloria,:Where the honors of victoria?:Nunc a domum narrent story,:Plenus sanguine, tragic, gory.:Pater praiseth, likewise mater,:Wonders greatly younger frater.:Possum leave they on the mundus,:Go themselves to sleep profundus,:Somniunt possums slain in battle,:Strong as ursae, large as cattle.:When nox gives way to lux of morning,:Albam terram much adorning,:Up they jump to see the varmin,:Of the which this is the carmen.:Lo! possum est resurrectum!:Ecce pueri dejectum,:Ne relinquit back behind him,:Et the pueri never find him.:Cruel possum! bestia vilest,:How the pueros thou beguilest!:Pueri think non plus of Caesar,:Go ad Orcum, Shalmanezer,:Take your laurels, cum the honor,:Since ista possum is a goner!

External links

* [ text of poem] (with typos).
* [ Guide to Normand Lockwood collection at AMRC, UCB] .
* [ The Talents] , play 24 from the "Towneley Plays" at U. Michigan.

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