Goliard Poetry

Goliard Poetry
O let us now be happy
Whilst we are still so young.
After our happy youthful days,
After our bitter older age,
Down to the earth we come.
Where are they?  Where did they go
those who lived before us?
Either to hell down below,
or to heaven you must go,
if you want to see them.
Long live the University
And long live the teachers:
Long live the fraternity
docents and doctors, live!
Forever may you flourish!
Our life is but a breath
And shortly we’ll be done.
Quick comes the shadow of death
and takes us with its evil stealth.
You should suffer for no one!
Out with all grim sadness
and he who loves assaulting;
perish the devil in his badness,
false brothers in their madness,
and he who loves insulting.
Long live all young women
enchanting and beautiful.
Long live all good women,
tender, loving women
hardworking and dutiful.
Long live the Republic
and those who rule it too.
Long live our city state
and the charity of donors
whose gifts protect us too.
Long live our company,
May all students live long!
May truth proudly advance,
May brotherhood flourish,
And the country get rich and strong.


Goliard poetry flourished in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, at the same time that Provençal troubador poetry was flourishing.  It is a simple kind of verse, written in Latin with a heavy dependence on rhyme and a simple measuring of syllables in the line.  It is very much associated with groups of students due to the predominance of themes relating to student life and loves, although there are also satirical poems that castigate vice and the failings of the church.

With the rise of universities wandering priests and scholars went from city to city and this proud, free life provides the undercurrent of goliard poetry, which seems to take its name from a derivation of the Latin word “gula”, with all that this suggests of consumption at the table, in the bars and in love.  I am drawn to the Goliard poets after reading Iglesia Alvariño because he wrote a biographical sketch of Noriega Varela, comparing the poet directly to Goldmund in Herman Hesse’s Narcissus and Goldmund.  Goldmund is a wandering youth who seems to be modelled on a goliard.

It is also appropriate to me at this time of year because I am on the Camino de Santiago, that great melting pot of wandering nations where the scholar, the devout and the vagabond all go together.  I am going to put up several examples of Goliard poetry over the week.  This one sets the tone.

Here it is in Latin:

Gaudeamus igitur,
iuvenes dum sumus.
Post iucundam iuventutem,
post molestam senectutem
nos habebit humus.
Ubi sunt qui ante nos
in mundo fuere?
Adeas ad inferos,
transeas ad superos,
hos si vis videre.
Vivat Accademia,
vivant professores,
vivat membrum quodlibet,
vivant membra quaelibet,
sempre sint in flore.
Vita nostra brevis est,
brevi finietur;
venit more velocitur,
rapit nos atrociter,
nemini parcetur.
Pereat tristitia,
pereant osores;
pereat diabolus,
quivis antiburschius
atque irrisores.
Vivant omnes virgines,
graciles, formosae!
Vivant et mulieres
tenerae, amabiles,
bonae, laboriosae!
Vivat et Respublica
et qui illam regit!
Vivat nostra Civitas,
Maecenatum charitas,
quae nos hic protegit!
Vivat nostra societas,
vivant studiosi.
Crescat una veritas,
floreat fraternitas,
patriae prosperitas.

About Jason Preater

Working on Projects
This entry was posted in Trobadores and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s