Ode in obitum Ioannis Walasii Scoto-Belgae (1603)

This elegiac poem originally appeared In obitum Ioannis Wallasii Scoto-Belgae, lachrymae Academiae Andreanae in Scotia (Leiden, 1603). This was one of two volumes published to commemorate the death of Johannes Wallasius, who had been a divinity student at Leiden in 1595 and then at St Mary's College, St Andrews in 1600, where he died some time before 1603. The second volume is entitled In obitum Ioannis Wallasii Scoto-Belgae, lachrymae Zelandicae, memoriae iuvenis pii atque dotissimi consecratae (Leiden, 1603). The latter exists in a number of locations, but the only known copy of the former is at St Andrews University Library. It includes poems from a range of Scottish intellectuals including John Johnston, Henry Danskin, William Wedderburn, and John Echlin. Metre: second Asclepiadean, which Horace uses in his Odes twelve times in total: I.3; 13; 19; 36. III.9; 15; 19; 24; 25; 28. IV.1; 3.

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Ode in obitum Ioannis Wallasii Scoto-Belgae

1Cum te de facie tua 1
primum nosse mihi contigit, aureum
fulsit luminibus jubar,
Phœbeae aura velut lampadis aurea.

Cum de voce tua mihi
primum nosse datum est te, roseis recens
fluxit Suada labellulis,
ceu Ganges fluvio pulcher it aureo. 2

9Cum de pectore te mihi
tandem nosse datum est, pectoris e specu
manavit scatebris novis 3
iugis caelivagae fons Sapientiae.

13Cum de mente animi fuit
te fas nosse mihi, flammeus entheo
arsit corde virens amor
virtutis, liquidi flaminis aemulus.

17Oris, Iane, tui jubar,
suadae vena tuae, et fons sophiae tuae et
castis ignis amoribus
me addunt luce, sono, mente, animo tibi.

21Quanquam pervigil, anxia 4
urgens immodicis cura laboribus
ad rectum studia improba, 5
maturat juveni cum senio necem,

25maturans propere, heu, nimis
marcorem, et maciem et tabidulos toros
tabentesque genas, super
strictos magnanimo in pectore spiritus.

29At nec sic vigor arduis
absistit studiis languidus: at sacrum
urges propositum, et nova
perstans mole refers praemia publica.

33Sic quondam, unde genus trahis,
Wallas, pro patria non timidus mori 6
heros, invidiam et trucis
fraudem hostis subiit spiritum ad ultimum.

37Nunc stat cuique dies sua, est
Link to an image of this page  [p105] aevi summa fugax irrevocabilis.
Vixit sat sibi, sat diu 7
40exul, quem patrius duxit amor domum.

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Ode on the death of the Scoto-Belgian John Wallasius

1When first it came to pass for me to get to know you by sight, a golden radiance shone through your eyes, just like the golden light of Phoebus' lamp.

5When first it was given to me to know you by your voice, from your thin red lips the fresh-faced goddess Persuasion flowed forth, just as the beautiful Ganges a proceeds in golden stream.

9When it was finally granted me to know you by your character, from the recesses of your heart an eternal fountain of heavenly wisdom poured forth from your fresh springs.

13When it was deemed right for me to know you by your cast of mind, a fiery love of virtue flourishing in a divinely inspired heart blazed forth, seeking out its liquid breeze.

17The brilliance of your face, John, the strength of your persuasive powers, and both the fountainhead of your wisdom and your passion for virtuous love join me to you in light, in sound, in mind, and soul.

21Although restless, anxious care inspires immoderate feats and relentless study drive us towards virtue, for the young man it hastens death with old age,

25 hastening, alas, with excessive speed bodily decline, both in skeletal appearance and wasted muscles and gaunt face, and moreover the wasted spirits of a great-hearted soul.

29But not thus does a faint-hearted force abstain from arduous pursuits: but you drive on your sacred purpose, and continuing with fresh power you bring back public rewards.

33Thus formerly, from where you trace your heritage, Wallasius, you were a hero, not afraid to die for your country, and you endured the ill-will and deceit of the vicious enemy to your last breath.

37Now the day is here for him, Link to an image of this page  [p105] it is the final fleeting day of unchangeable time. He has lived long enough for himself, an exile too long, whom now a fatherly love has led home.



1: The opening line and subsequent structure of this poem follows the first line of Odes I.13.

2: Virgil, Georgics II.137

3: Horace, Odes II.3.337

4: Statius, Silvae III.5.2

5: This and the previous line: Virgil, Georgics I.145-6.

6: Horace, Odes III.19.2

7: Vulgate, Romans XIV.7-8


a: Ganges: Largest river in India.