Friday, July 16, 2010

Lux Aurumque

Edward Esch's most famous poem -- and, indeed, as far as I can tell, his only extant poem at all -- is the following:

Light of Gold

warm and heavy as pure gold
and the angels sing softly
to the new-born baby.

It is most famous, however, not in its original English but in its translation into Latin by Charles Anthony Silvestri:

Lux Aurumque

calida gravisque pura velut aurum
Et canunt angeli molliter
modo natum.

The reason is that the composer Eric Whitacre liked Esch's poem, and wanted to set it to music, but thought it would sound better in Latin. And that eventually led to this project:

Which isn't too bad a fate for a minor poem of no clear provenance.

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