The piece I woke up with? You won't believe this. I mean, it's a total stretch. Here are the lines: "What is this that roareth thus/Can it be a motor bus?/Yes, that smell and hideous hum/Indicant motorem bum..." I mean, what on earth could have provoked the memory of these lines, learned more than sixty years ago and forgotten since that time? Google provided the answer--not to that question, unfortunately, but to my brain's desperate hunt for the rest of the lines. For your enjoyment:
- What is this that roareth thus?
- Can it be a Motor Bus?
- Yes, the smell and hideous hum
- Indicant Motorem Bum!
- Implet in the Corn and High
- Terror me Motoris Bi:
- Bo Motori clamitabo
- Ne Motore caedar a Bo---
- Dative be or Ablative
- So thou only let us live:---
- Whither shall thy victims flee?
- Spare us, spare us, Motor Be!
- Thus I sang; and still anigh
- Came in hordes Motores Bi,
- Et complebat omne forum
- Copia Motorum Borum.
- How shall wretches live like us
- Cincti Bis Motoribus?
- Domine, defende nos
- Contra hos Motores Bos!
Make what you will of it. You need to try reading it aloud, I think, and even a non-Latin scholar can latch on to some of the humor. Or maybe not. The poem is a humorous poke, of course, at the arrival of the motor bus on the streets of Oxford in the 1910s, clearly a topic of vital interest to us today, particularly the reference to emissions. It's also a play on the declensions of Latin nouns--nominative, accusative, genitive, dative, ablative--which those of us who are old enough to have been compelled to study such things will surely have gratefully forgotten! I like particularly the last two lines, which I am still able to translate: Lord, defend us from those motor buses!
Where do such things come from? I'm struggling with what I need to learn from this memory, aside from the fact that my brain performs extraordinary feats when I'm not asking to; and too often fails miserably when I ask it to recall a simple memory from yesterday.