Boniface Prologue


Date: Mon 26 Jul 2021
Original text:
Incipiunt aenigmata Bonifatii Episcopi quae misit sorori suae
Aurea nam decem transmisi poma sorori,
Quae in ligno vitae crescebant floribus almis,
Illius sacris pendebant dulcia ramis,
Cum lignum vitae pendebat in arbore mortis.
5  Cum quibus et ludens comprendas gaudia vitae,
Et tibi venturae conplearis dulcedine vitae,
Manducans multo inspireris nectaris haustu.
Spirantes replet nardi fragrantia nares,
Cum quibus et malis compares regna futura,
10  Dulcia sic quondam celebrabis gaudia caeli.
Sunt alia alterius ligni acerbissima mala,
Pestifero vernant quae in ligno mortis amarae,
Quae Adam manducans dira est cum morte peremptus,
Antiqui infecta et flatu et felleque draconis,
15  Viperea ut dudum saeve perlita veneno.
Nitatur palmis haec nunquam tangere virgo,
Mandere quae nefas est et gustare profanum,
Ne dentes strideant fuscati peste maligna,
Talibus aut malis frangantur foedera sancta,
20  Vel superi incassum perdantur praemia regni.
Here begin the riddles of Bishop Boniface, which he sent to his sister.
I gave ten golden apples to my sister;
they were growing from nourishing blossoms on the tree of life,
and hanging sweet from its sacred branches
when the tree of life was hanging on the tree of death.
5  And, playing with these, you may grasp the joys of life
and fill yourself with the sweetness of the life to come,
and, eating, breathe out many a mouthful of nectar.
Fill up your breathing nostrils with the perfumes of nard,
and obtain the kingdom to come with these apples,
10  and so you will celebrate the sweet joys of heaven someday.
There are other, very sour apples from another tree,
which grow on the tree of bitter death,
and Adam, eating these, was slain in terrible death;
they were infected by the poison and the breath of the ancient serpent,
15  since they had previously been cruelly smeared with a snake’s venom.
Let no virgin try to handle these:
it is forbidden to eat them and it is wicked to taste them.
Let teeth not grind, darkened by malignant plague,
nor sacred covenants be broken by such apples,
20  nor the rewards of the heavenly kingdom be vainly squandered.
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This edition is based on Ernst Dümmler, (ed.). Poetae Latini aevi Carolini, Volume 1. Berlin, MGH/Weidmann, 1881. Pages 1-15. Available online here.