Mica, Mica Stellula ("Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" in Latin)

In Medias Res |

An Improved Version of the Best Latin Song for Children

 

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[Editor’s Note — A Latin translation of the lullaby “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” has existed since at least 1894 when one apparently appeared in Mary Mapes Dodge’s poetry collection When Life is Young. The version published by Dodge has become the standard, but it has its problems, starting from the first line where the three-syllable “little star” becomes the awkward parva stella. (At least one other version exists, which is arguably worse.) I substituted stellula, which actually fits the meter, and my wife Catherine picked up from there; we went on to retranslate the whole first stanza. This new version is much closer to the English version, is more satisfying to kids (they actually get the Latin word for “diamond,” for instance) and also maintains a childlike simplicity. In order to extend the song, I also freely translated the generally unknown second verse. When singing, remember to start the second verse back on C, the low note in the song.]

MICA MICA STELLULA (“Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”)

(Jane Taylor, traditional French tune)(tr. Kuhner/Kuhner)[1806]

 

Mica mica stellula

Miror quid sis natura

Super mundum alte stas

Nitens sicut adamas

Mica mica stellula

Miror quid sis natura.

 

[second verse]

Phoebus cum discedit hinc

It et splendet sol illinc

Tuam lucem tunc monstras

Et per noctem tu micas

Mica mica stellula

Miror quid sis natura.

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In Medias Res

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

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