Urna loquor: cinis est infans, infantula mecum est,
vernula nata domi, nata gemella patri.
hanc mater mihi commendat post funera et inquit:
“ipsa tibi hanc peperi, nata futura tua est.”
hanc alui in tenebris; nutrix nox; ubera suxit
noctis, et infanti lac fuit ipse sopor.
nec fatur; verum somno testata perenni,
quam nasci satius vos docet esse mori.
hanc nullae torquent curae, non matris in ore est,
non lana in digitis comminuenda datur;
continuas ducit noctes; lux nulla, nec ulli
sunt vitae sensus, munera nulla premunt.
dumque haec ipsa loquor, secura infantula dormit;
illam perpetuo somnus ab imbre rigat.
nomen erat quod fecit herus Massila; Camoenae
ornarunt domini pro pietate locum.
hic dormit Massila; sopor lac, ubera praebet
nox ipsa, at cunas et tenebrae et loculi.
(Giovanni Pontano, De Tumulis 1.39)

I, urn of cremation, speak. The ash is a baby. A slave-girl lies in me, born in her home, her father’s twin child. After she died, her mother entrusted her to me, and told me “I bore her myself for you, your daughter to be.” Her in the dark I nourished. Night was her nurse. At the breasts of night she sucked. The breastmilk was sleep itself. She does not speak. Yet bearing witness in sleep everlasting she teaches us how birth is worse than death. Not one whirled care now wracks her, she’s not on the lips of her mother. No wool is put in her fingers to pull apart. She leads an eternal dead of night, without light, without living feeling. Life’s obsequies can’t oppress her now. And while I speak myself, this little baby keeps sleeping untroubled. Slumber bathes her in constant rain. Massila was the name her master gave her. The Muses adorned this place through duteous love of her lord. Here rests Massila. Sleep is the milk she sucks from the breasts of night. But dark and the coffin are her cradles. (tr. Alex Z. Foreman)



Naenia decima. Mater blanditur catellae ac somnum invitat.

Ne latra, ne pelle bonum, bona Luscula, somnum;
et tibi iam somnus, Luscula, gratus erit.
ingredere, o bone somne; nihil bona Luscula latrat;
Luscula Luciolo, Luscula blanda tibi est;
innuit ipsa oculis tibi Luscula, Lucius ipse
innuit, et dicunt: ‘somnule lenis, ades.’
Luscula iam dormit, stertit quoque bella catella,
et sua Luciolo lumina fessa cadunt.
dormi, Luciole, Luci dilecte, quiesce;
en canit ad cunas garrula Lisa tibi.
‘mulcet languidulos, saturat quoque somnus ocellos;
somnus alit venas, corpora somnus alit
et sedat curas requiemque laboribus affert,
odit tristitiam, gaudia semper amat.
somne bone o cunctis, assis mihi, candide somne,
somne bone et pueris, somne bone et senibus,
ipse mihi tumidas satura, bone somne, mamillas,
ubera Luciolo quo mea plena fluant.’
sentit Luciolus dormitque et ridet et optat
et mammas digitis prensitat usque suis.
euge, puer, sitibunde puer, cape, lassule, somnos;
mox tibi iam vigili lacteus amnis erit.
(Giovanni Pontano, De amore coniugali 2.17)

Tenth lullaby. The mother soothes the pup and invites sleep.

Don’t bark, good Luscula, do not drive away good sleep.
To you too sleep will be a welcome thing.
Come, good sleep; good Luscula does not bark at all.
Luscula’s sweet to Lucio, sweet to you.
Luscula makes a sign for you with her eyes; with his,
Lucio makes a sign. They say: “Mild Sleep,
be here.” Now Luscula sleeps; the fine pup’s snoring too;
Lucietto’s tired eyes flutter closed. Sleep, rest,
Lucietto, darling Lucio; see, Lisa sings,
murmuring to you by your cradle’s side.
“Sleep is caressing, filling up little drooping eyes.
Sleep nourishes the body and its veins,
it pacifies anxieties, brings rest to toils;
hates melancholy, always loves delights.
O Sleep, come to my aid, Sleep good for all, fair Sleep,
Sleep good for boys, and Sleep good for old men;
fill up my swelling breasts, good Sleep, so they may flow
abundantly with milk for Lucio.”
Lucietto senses it in his sleep, he smiles and yearns for them,
his fingers constantly try to seize the breasts.
Bravo! my ever-thirsty, my sleepy boy; sleep now;
soon, when you wake, you will have streams of milk.
(tr. Luke Roman)