Bestia curvafia pulices (Orlando di Lasso)

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  • (Posted 2018-10-02)  CPDL #51415:       
Editor: Willem Verkaik (submitted 2018-10-02).   Score information: Letter, 3 pages, 224 kB   Copyright: CPDL
Edition notes:

General Information

Title: Bestia curvafia pulices
Composer: Orlando di Lasso

Number of voices: 5vv   Voicing: SSATB
Genre: SecularMotet

Language: Latin
Instruments: A cappella

First published: 1576 in Les meslanges, tant en vers latins qu’en ryme francoyse, no.  
    2nd published: 1577 in Vingtuniesme livre de chansons (Le Roy & Ballard), no. 13

External websites:

Original text and translations

Latin.png Latin text

Bestia curvafia pulices, proch, Posoniensis
Progenies pungunt. Bestia curvafia!
Persimiles peditum passum proterva pedicli
Prefocanda pigra. Bestia curvafia!
Perlustrat pectus, poplites, pellesque politas
Propugnat passim. Bestia curvafia!
Pellantur pulices pelagus perdatque pediclos
Profundum pastos. Bestia curvafia!


English.png English translation

Whoreson beast! The fleas - alas for the race of Pozsony! -
sting. Whoreson beast!
Very similar to infantrymen, the wanton, lazy (beast)
ought to be choked everywhere by little feet. Whoreson beast!
It ranges over the breast, the knee-joints, and everywhere
defends the dressed skins. Whoreson beast!
Let fleas be driven away, and may the deep sea destroy the lice
after they have fed. Whoreson beast!

“Curvafia” or kurvafia (in modern day spelling) in Hungarian means ‘son of a bitch,’ or ‘whoreson’ to use the Shakespearean equivalent. Vera Lampert; Lasso’s Fleas: A Hungarian Connection for a European Topos. Studia Musicologica Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae 41/1-3, 2000, pp57-75