Distenditur

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This is part 2 of 3. Part 1 is here. Part 3 is here.

At cum longa decem tulerint fastidia menses,
perfectoque gravis fetu distenditur alvus,
semina quae patris fuerant, haec pondera matri
infligunt duros utero turgente dolores.
nam cum luctato solvuntur viscera partu,
una luit, tanto carnis discrimine pendens,
quod coiere duo. spes palpat forte dolentem,
editus in lucem si vivat filius; atqui
contingit plerumque, gemens ut mortua fundat.
saepe etiam soboli nec mortis tempore natae
dant geminum matris commortua membra sepulcrum.
illud iam levius quotiens intervenit, ipsa
ut pereat tum sola parens, ac pondere fuso
emittat cum prole animam? quid forte levatum
nutritumque diu rapitur si funere pignus,
unica quod crebro spes respicit, et perit omne
quod sibi conceptis spondebant gaudia votis?
(Avitus of Vienne, De Virginitate 173-189)

When ten months have brought continuous sickness
And her stomach is heavy, swollen with the fully-formed foetus,
The seeds which came from the father become a burden to the mother
Inflicting unbearable pains as the uterus swells.
For when, in the struggle of giving birth, the womb contracts,
The woman alone pays the price, with such great physical danger,
For what the two of them created together; perhaps hope alleviates the pain,
If the son that is born lives; and yet it very often happens
That with her groans she brings forth a dead child.
Often the mother also dies at the same time, providing a double tomb
For the child that was not even born at the time of its death.
How often does this slightly less terrible event occur,
That the mother alone dies in childbirth? As she brings forth her burden
When the child leaves her, so does her soul. What if the child
Raised and fed for a long time is snatched away by death,
The child viewed as the sole hope, and she loses everything
That her joy promised, all that she was looking forward to?
(tr. Carolinne White)

2 thoughts on “Distenditur”

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