Forum (Petula Clark's "Downtown" in Latin)

Allegra Forbes |

A 1960s Laudatio Urbis Becomes an Easy-to-sing Crowd Pleaser in Latin

 

                                   Petula Clark, “Downtown”’s original singer, in 1960 (Wikimedia Commons).

Petula Clark, “Downtown”’s original singer, in 1960 (Wikimedia Commons).

[Editor’s Note: The 1964 #1 hit “Downtown” was so popular at its release that it was quickly recorded in other languages, though the absence of suitable words for “downtown” in some tongues caused some very free translations (such as the Italian version: “Ciao ciao”). Luke Henderson’s ingenious Latin version has no such problem: what better word could be used than the original downtown, the Forum? And “eo eas” is a great way to remember the locational use of eo: “you can go there.” As far as singing goes, this is an easy one, though it’s useful to know the original song in order to catch some of the subtleties of the original phrasing, especially in the transition from the bridge to the chorus (you can linger on the “eo eas”). But the song is easy to catch even for people not familiar with it, showing why it’s been recorded time and again since its original release.]

 

DOWNTOWN (Petula Clark) (Tony Hatch) (tr. Henderson) [1964]

E solitudine effugere poteris si eas ad forum.

sollicitatus forsan strepitu adjuvaris iens ad forum.

[pons] frequentiam et audi strepitum vehiculorum,

ac vide pulchritudinem illuc luminum horum.

 

[CHORUS]

eo eas,

quo lumina splendent, et quo nihil tibi curandum, nec causa angend’

i ad forum, re delectaberis,

forum, spe adjuvaberis.

forum tibi placebit valde!

 

Tentationibus obsessus ne maneas; hinc eas ad forum.

curis solutum ibi oblectamentis delectabit te forum.

[pons] et modis bonam musicis illam saltationem,

aptatam jucundissimis suscipe motionem.

 

[CHORUS]

eo eas,

quo lumina splendent, et quo nihil tibi curandum, nec causa angend’

i ad forum, re delectaberis,

forum, spe adjuvaberis.

forum tibi placebit valde!

 

[“forum” repetitur ad finem]

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Allegra Forbes

In Medias Res is the online magazine for lovers of Latin and Greek, published by the Paideia Institute.

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