Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (±1525-1594): Veni, dilecte mi

pomegranate blossoms

Come, my beloved; let us go forth
into the fields, let us abide in the villages.
Let us arise and go early to the vineyards,
let us see if the vines flourish,
if the blossom be ready to bring forth fruits,
if the pomegranates are in flower.
There will I give thee my breasts.

The desert love poetry that is the Song of Songs is filled with eroticism and longing. In this the last of the twenty-nine motets based upon the Song of Songs Veni, dilecti me (Come my beloved …) the positively pants with the poet’s desire to be with their beloved. The imagery of fruitfulness and lust combine to unforgettable effect, no wonder the Church authorities of Palestrina’s time refused to let these poems to be set in Italian allowing them only to be set in Latin. Palestrina’s settings of these poems manage to express the poet’s longing in a restrained and elegant style while leaving no doubt about the subject matter. No wonder they went through eleven printings in a very short time. It’s the last in the set of twenty-nine I hope you’ve enjoyed this series and its music. As always, enjoy :-)

mfi

Text & Translation Veni, dilecti me

Veni, dilecte mi, egrediamur in agrum,
commoremur in villis.
Mane surgamus ad vineas,
videamus si floruit vinea,
si flores fructus parturiunt,
si floruerunt mala punica.
Ibi dabo tibi ubera mea.

Come, my beloved; let us go forth
into the fields, let us abide in the villages.
Let us arise and go early to the vineyards,
let us see if the vines flourish,
if the blossom be ready to bring forth fruits,
if the pomegranates are in flower.
There will I give thee my breasts.

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