Now I've heard this piece plenty of times, but it wasn't until then that I first learned of the song's poetic value.
Turns out that 'Carmina Burana' is a name that Orff borrowed from an early medieval manuscript that consisted of roughly 254 poems and satirical stories. The name itself means "Songs from Benediktbeuern".
The collection of poems, almost all of which were written in Medieval Latin, was discovered in a Benedictine monastery in 1803 and was dated back to as early as the 11th century.
It was from this collection that Orff selected 24 poems that would eventually come to constitute his Carmina Burana.
Among these poems is the one I mentioned hearing two days ago, In Trutina. Here's the Latin version followed by an English transliteration. Short but gorgeous.
In trutina mentis dubia
lascivus amor et pudicitia.
Sed eligo quod video,
collum iugo prebeo:
ad iugum tamen suave transeo.
I am suspended
but I choose
what is before me
and take upon myself the sweet yoke.
Of the Poem (More Ambiguity)
Some say it's a poem about a young girl's decision to fall in love rather than to become a nun. She says she's trapped between love and chastity; that is, between marriage and sisterhood.
That she chose marriage is said to be clear from the last line where she apparently refers to it as "the sweet yoke". I contend that this isn't necessarily the case ... "the sweet yoke" could just as easily refer to her commitment as a nun and a lover of God alone (Matthew 11:30).
Funny. Seems the key to interpreting the poem adequately rests on a single word found in line 5: "what". If we knew "what" was there before her we'd know "what" it was she chose.
And so here we are, forced by the presence of ambiguity to arbitrarily choose what the poem means to us subjectively.
Truth be told ... I like that kind of freedom.
If you’d like to hear the song (in Latin) click here … it’s only a few minutes long, and I promise you’ll enjoy it. Notice the different rendering of it in English.
Also, I've come across a slightly different Latin spelling for Trutina- Truitina. Just thought I'd have you know.