May flights of angels sing thee to thy rest

By weasel, in 'English to Latin Translation', Oct 8, 2011.

  1. weasel New Member

    I would like help translating this line from Shakespeare's Hamlet to use on my mother's grave please.
    Thank you very much.
  2. Matthaeus Vemortuicida strenuus

    • Civis Illustris
    why not keep it in the original?
  3. Manus Correctrix QVAE CORRIGIT

    • Civis Illustris
    Indeed. Is the original not already poetic and otherly enough?


    Alatus chorus angelorum dulcedine sui concentus te adducat ad requiem.
  4. Aurifex Aedilis

    • Aedilis
    I would stick with the original English, or invent a sentence of your own and get that translated instead.
  5. weasel New Member

    I must say, I am a bit puzzled about the reluctance to translate this – is the phrase just one that does not lend itself well to interpretation ?

    I agree that the English version is quite beautiful, and recognize that using it is a most excellent option. However, there is a cogent and personal reason that I wanted the Latin.

    Many thanks to Cursor Nictans for his (or her) contribution. I am most grateful for that rendering !
  6. Matthaeus Vemortuicida strenuus

    • Civis Illustris
    Why Latin? It was originally written in English, so that's the best language for it.
  7. Aurifex Aedilis

    • Aedilis
    I do understand your wish to use Latin to memorialize your mother, and Cursor Nictans has given you a perfectly serviceable translation.

    But to understand our general reluctance to provide a translation, please look at things this way:

    Would a modern-day Greek person who had carefully chosen some words of Homer to put on a family memorial have any good reason, or even the motivation, to put Homer's words into Latin rather than retain the original Greek? Since English presumably is your first language, and Shakespeare is the greatest poet in that language (arguably in any language), do you really think it would be fitting to have his words rendered into Latin on your mother's memorial?
    My advice would be to leave Shakespeare's words untranslated and to supplement the quote with another sentence in Latin.
  8. Aurifex Aedilis

    • Aedilis
  9. Cinefactus Censor

    • Censor
    litore aureo
    Only if they are paying ;)
  10. Manus Correctrix QVAE CORRIGIT

    • Civis Illustris
    I see that MatthaeusLatinus (probably our Matthaeus) went for a more literal translation, and non-Latin-speaking Weasel declared it to be the best (presumably because it’s short).

    The problem is that ‘sing’ is normally used with the song as its direct object and the person sung to as its indirect object. Here, the direct object is the person led to a location (and sung to). We can thus see that the verb is being used to mean ‘lead’, with singing being a background activity. English takes such liberties with its verbs frequently, but most other languages do not seem to. I can’t find any examples of cano being used to mean ‘lead’, so I thought it best to paraphrase.
  11. weasel New Member

    To Cursor Nictans: Many thanks for the additional comments on cano, etc. You are right about the virtue of brevity aspect – the plaque we are using is quite small.

    To Aurifex: Thank you for taking the time to reply. Actually, my question was prompted more by an idea that perhaps the word “flights” might be difficult to translate.

    While I appreciate your point about the great poets (as I acknowledged - the English phrase “is a most excellent option”), and did try and “look at things” your way, I’m afraid I don’t quite agree because :

    a) Yes, a contemporary Greek might very well have a “good reason or motivation” for putting the words into Latin - just as I have (even though I don’t care to share it with the public). And,

    b) One assumes that at least 90% of ALL the phrases which you translate for your “customers” were originally in their first language of English.

    Please don’t think that I took umbrage at your reluctance to help me. As soon as I recognized that the Internet Translators were giving out rubbish, I submitted my request to two or three of the other fora at the same time that I submitted to LL – before I got any answers from you gentlemen.

    Realizing that there would be several different ways to translate this, I was hoping to get the most professional advise, in as timely a manner as possible to help me with just one of the many duties for which I find my self responsible as a consequence of my mother’s death.

    As I said, I am grateful for CN’s contribution – it’s a little long for the small plaque we are using – but I am thankful to have his examples of words and syntax, which are most elucidating and clever.

    I am sure that between suggestions from the other sources and the Latin Grammars/Dictionaries which I can check out of the local library, eventually I will be able to tweak things perfectly to my needs. It has been half a century since I have done any Latin translation, but with a little elbow grease, I should be able to do it ~~ hopefully soon enough that I don’t have to postpone the funeral.
  12. Manus Correctrix QVAE CORRIGIT

    • Civis Illustris
    You’re free to use it in English or Latin; we just want to give our advice on that, which you can take or leave. Posting on several fora was a good plan.

    I would like to insist that the verb cano (‘sing’) not be used to mean ‘lead by singing’ unless we find a Classical example of it being thus used.

    If the text needs to be short, there are things we can cut out. I included dulcedine sui concentus (‘with the sweetness of their singing’). We can omit that because by calling them a ‘choir of angels’, we’ve already established that they are singing. Adducat can be shortened to ducat with no loss of meaning.

    Since the group was called a ‘choir’ instead of a ‘flight’ (which means a group of flying creatures, and has no Latin equivalent that I’m aware of), I compensated by describing the angels as ‘winged’. This too might be considered superfluous.

    So, we could reduce it to just:
    Chorus angelorum te ducat ad requiem.

    If you definitely want several flights and not just one, then:
    Chori angelorum te ducant ad requiem.

    Ad needs to be before requiem, but otherwise you can rearrange the words in virtually any order.
  13. Alacritas Member

    Serdica, Bulgaria
    This translation not only seems to be accurate but to preserve the music and rhythm of the original English.
  14. weasel New Member

    Thank you so much, Cursor Nictans.
    This is exactly the one we will use.
    You have saved me a lot of time and grief !!
    Your Latin scholarship is most impressive, and I do appreciate the valuable instruction which you have so generously shared.
  15. Laeva Luce New Member

    I'd like to add my thanks to both weasel and Cursor Nictans, and the other commenters above. gratias maximas ago vobis!
    I googled the phrase to find out where it was from and to find a Latin version for an inscription for a friend who died very young and recently. It won't go anywhere public but as a classicist I thought why not include some Latin in my will. As a singer I know the text of the Requiem mass in Latin well enough, so I wanted to add the Hamlet quotation.

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