Text and Translation of the Latin Oration Delivered at Princeton

Princeton Classics major Veronica Shi delivered the traditional Latin oration at commencement ceremonies on May 31. Here is the text and translation of her Carmen Salutationis:

Salutatio

Habita in Comitiis Academicis Princetoniae
In Nova Caesarea prid. Kal. Iun.
Anno Salutis MMXI
Anno Academiae CCLXIV

Carmen Salutationis

quibus modis, quîs principiis, amans
Mater, salutem progeniem tuam?
    favete opus, Musae, novis ne
       nunc titubem pedibus rubescens!
nobis aratrix splendida messium
felixque dux, te, praesidium bonum,
    primam saluto, namque florent
       omnia lumine sub tuo; nec
vos nunc silebo, qui sapientia
tuentur Almam semper et omnibus
    Matrem; professoresque laudo
        filia grata scientiamque
eorum cano, quae discipulos alit
virtute, curis et patientia
    benignius: vobis pietas
        magna, amor altus et eruditus.
et vos, parentes: mane scholasticos
nos creditis, quos canticulo meo
   gaudere nunc vidistis: ecce
        spes modo perficimus decoras.

nunc paululo modis minoribus,
sodales, libere vos alloquor;
ignoscite inflatis prioribus
verbis: eram iussa ut modo gravi
cantarem.  nunc autem imprudentias
varias, Musae procaces, pandite (Ha!):
quae lectiones desertae, prius
quae vel licentiae convivia
bacchantis vel longae turpissimi
amoris noctes, et quot et quibus-
cum – quid nunc? vos irascimini mihi?
noli sanctos simulare aut integros;
et cur metuistis? non ullo modo
vestri parentes haec intelligunt.
horum atque si fecisti umquam nihil,
hercle! “Miser!” tantum dicam tibi.
laeti memores este et licentiae
aeque et victoriae, carissimi
(numquam triumphi parca scilicet):
omnia sciens ignoscit omnibus
Mater; non semper vita vera ita est.
nostram vitam tigridis quam splendidam!
sed cuique, sodales, nostrum hic parcius
tempus datum, vae, fatis invidis.

huc redibunt aestiferi dies, sub
limpido caelo foliis vigebit
flammeis Autumnus, et alba mox et
     frigida bruma
vere solvetur vice. nos tamen non
huc redimus; nos, abituri amici,
ex pylis late gerimus, calentes
     cordibus altis,
signa doctrinae: variis alumnis
Mater auget mundum iterum suis. sic
saecula excedunt.  semel, ergo, amici
     progredientes
ac simul cantamus, “Io, Triumphe!”
gestientes, et bis, “Io, Triumphe!”
dicimus caeloque feremus alto
     nobile nomen
Princetoniensis, memores sodalum
atque honesti.  nunc ego “Ave,” beati,
non “Vale” dicam, atque “Fidelitate
     semper amate.”

Salutation

Given in the Academic Assembly of Princeton
In New Jersey on the 31st of May
In the year 2011
In the 264th Academic Year

Salutatory Poem

With what measures, what beginnings, loving
Mother, should I greet your progeny?
    Bless this endeavor, Muses, so that I
        don’t stumble blushing over untried feet!
Glorious tiller of harvests for us
and prosperous leader: you, good
    guardian, I first salute, for all things
        flourish under your guiding light; nor
Will I pass by in silence all of you who
wisely protect our kindly mother, always
   and for all.  Our professors too I praise
        as a grateful daughter, and I sing
Of their scholarship, which nurtures their students
with special kindness, excellently, attentively,
    patiently: your devotion to us
        is great, your attachment deep and learned.
And you, our parents: this morning you believe
that we are scholars, since you have seen us
    take pleasure in my little song: behold,
        now we fulfill your honorable hopes.

Now, in rather humbler meters
I address you candidly, friends:
forgive me for being highfalutin just now –
I was told to sing in a serious manner.
But now, naughty Muses, reveal far and wide
all the various indiscretions of this class (Ha!):
the lectures we’ve ditched, the parties
of raging, Bacchic licentiousness we’ve thrown,
the long nights of shameful love, and how many
and with whom we spent them –
What now?  Getting annoyed with me?
Don’t pretend you’re a bunch of saints or innocents –
and why fear?  There’s no way at all
your parents can understand what I’m saying.
And if you’ve really never done any of these –
Great Hercules!  I say only this to you: “Miserable wretch!”
Cherish the memory of your foibles
as well as your success, o friends
(not that our Mother was ever grudging with success):
She knows all, but forgives: Real Life isn’t always like that.
What joy it has been to be a young tiger!
But the jealous Fates, friends, have given
each of us, alas, only a short time here.

Here the heat-bearing days will return;
beneath a crisp sky, Autumn will flourish
in its fiery foliage, and then soon hoary,
     freezing Winter
will be dissolved by Spring’s changes.  But we
do not return here; we, friends, will depart
from these gates, bearing far and wide, aflame
     with lofty hearts,
the standards of our learning: with her diverse progeny
our Mother again enriches the world.  So
the generations advance onward.  Marching once
    and only once, then, friends,
and all together, we sing, “Hurrah, Victory!”
exulting, and twice again say, “Hurrah, Victory!”
and will lift to heaven’s lofty arch
     the noble name
of Princeton, keeping each other close to our hearts,
ever forthright.  Blessed friends, I shall say “Hail,” not
“Farewell,” and this too: “With undying loyalty,
     love each other always.”

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