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Hail and Farewell! Posted by on May 31, 2011 in Uncategorized

In the U.S. yesterday was Memorial Day, which was a day to honor the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. For the U.S. Army and Navy, there is a special celebration called a “Hail and Farewell”. The “Hail and Farewell” is a formal dining celebration where old commanders are honored and new commanders are welcomed in the unit. Although the “Hail and Farewell” isn’t always necessarily celebrated on Memorial Day, the phrase “Hail and Farewell” reminded me of one of Catallus’s mourning poems. It was a poem about his brother who died before him. Since Memorial Day is a day of mourning those who died, I think Catallus’s poem is appropriate in this situation. There’s a band called Dargaard. They are a classical and rock band rolled in one. They have a song titled “Ave Atque Vale”, which means “Hail and Farewell” in Latin. The lyrics come straight from Catallus’s poem “Ave Atque Vale”

Multās per gentēs et multa per aequora vectus

(Carried through many nations and over many seas,)

Adveniō hās miserās, frāter, ad īnferiās,

(I arrive, brother, for these miserable funeral rites,)

Ut tē postrēmō dōnārem mūnere mortis

(so that I might finally bestow the service of the dead)

Et mūtam nēquīquam alloquerer cinerem,

(And salute in vain to your silent ashes,)

Quandoquidem fortūna mihī tētē abstulit ipsum.

(Since Fortune has deprived me of you in the flesh.)

Heu miser indignē frāter adēmpte mihi,

(Ah, poor brother, undeservedly lost to me,)

Nunc tamen intereā haec, prīscō quae mōre parentum

(Now at least for the meantime, these things which in the time-honored way of our parents)

Trādita sunt trīstī mūnere ad īnferiās,

(Are handed down in mournful service to the rites)

Accipe frāternō multum mānantia flētū,

(Receive, utterly sodden by a brother’s tears)

Atque in perpetuum, frāter, avē atque valē.

(And for eternity, brother, a tribute and farewell.)


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  1. Karen:

    I am smiling at seeing this lovely poem again. It is the poem I memorized as a class assignment in my college course on Catullus many (30+) years ago. I still remember most of the poem (along with the poetry rules of meter, accent, pronunciation, and elision), after all these years. I will use this opportunity to re-memorize the parts that have become a bit foggy in my memory!

  2. Ellis:

    This is a lovely piece. I’ve been looking for poems and songs sung in Latin. They are so hard for me to find. Thank you for posting this wonderful song. I’m only beginning Latin myself and I wish to teach it someday. Modern twists on old work. I think that’s great.