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Bella, Horida Bella

by TheRebel2007

Latin Version 

Bella, horida bella
Flagellum terrae et stella';
Bella - matribus detesta,
Urbes facta sepulchra stricta;
Quid carpe diem usus -
Cum domum est mortuus?

Habitas in concordia,
Cum libertas et laetita!
Vivas in pacem et fortuna',
Vidis gloria non pugna,
Et valorem bellae est nulla,
O Bella, horida bella.

English Version

Wars, horrid wars,
The scourge of the Earth and the stars;
Wars - the fear of mothers,
Which leads cities to clustered graves;
What use is it to seize the day
When your home is dead?

Live in harmony,
With liberty and prosperity!
Live in peace and fortune -
The glory of no warfare,
See the futility of all wars,
O wars, horrid wars.

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542 Reviews

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Fri Feb 11, 2022 10:19 am
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Liminality wrote a review...

Hiya! Lim here with a short review.

Subject, Themes and Interpretation

So it seems that this poem condemns war from the angle of lamenting its human toll. Both stanzas discuss ‘human’ elements like peace vs fear, prosperity vs the “dead” home. The only exception to that was the phrase “the Earth and the stars”, which stood out to me because we usually do think of war as a human thing, and I was wondering how human war would be a “scourge” in outer space.

I also kind of like the idea that this could be a specific critique of the war-like culture in the Roman Empire? I’m no history buff, but I got the impression from that nice play on the “carpe diem” idiom that is often quoted, that this poem sort of criticizes the Roman emphasis on military victory and glory. Which is why the line “The glory of no warfare” also appeals to me, because it subverts the Roman expectation that war = glory without ‘disposing’ of the idea of glory itself. Detaching the glory from its cultural association with violence, in a way.

Rhythm and Sound

I don’t speak Latin, but I used Google Translate’s audio just to get an idea of how this would sound like when read out in Latin, and I thought it sounded really good. The rhymes with the ‘a’ sounds come across very clearly. Overall the poem’s sounds seem to carry this solemn, heavy tone, appropriate for the subject matter I think, and in particular the repetition of “Bella, horida bella” at the end hit pretty hard.

Even in the English version, I appreciated the repetition of sounds here and there in lieu of the ‘-a’ rhymes from the Latin version. For example, startling the last three lines of the first stanza with which/what/when, and also in the next two lines rhyming harmony with liberty and prosperity.


In the first stanza, the image of “clustered graves” (sepulchra stricta?) stood out to me. It really emphasizes the sense of absolute destruction and highlights the numerical cost of war by making the reader imagine just tons and tons of graves all piled up into a once lively city. I appreciate how this unique image is paired with a rather nondescript word “city”, as that highlights the contrast even more.

The second stanza felt a bit more abstract. The poem doesn’t return to the image of the specific “city”, but instead lists down all of these good but abstract things like “harmony”, “liberty” and “fortune”. It kind of leaves me wondering what those things look, smell, sound or feel like. What is a ‘harmonious city’ in physical, sensory terms?


The two-stanza structure of the poem seems to invite a two-way contrast between ideas (war vs peace), and could possibly be better supported by having concrete imagery suggesting peace in the second stanza to match the concrete image of the cities in the first stanza. Otherwise, I think it’s a valid poetic choice to include abstractions, especially in a poem that (in the Latin version) is short and has a lot of sound devices/ rhyme. Concrete imagery like the “clustered graves” really does shine to me as gripping the reader’s attention, though, which is good for the ‘turn’ or the climax of the piece.

Hope some of this is helpful. Keep writing!


TheRebel2007 says...

Thanks for the review, Lim! :p

And yes, that abstraction of peace in the second stanza is intentional, it makes the reader think of the concrete values of peace themselves, which compels the reader to get peace. Thanks again :p

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Mon Jan 31, 2022 5:43 am
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Ilium417 wrote a review...

Hiya, Ilium here for a review!!
First off, I LOVE Latin (if my username couldn't tell you). Its probably my favorite language because English is just so crappy. It's like five different languages had a love child with an extra chromosome.
That being said, I think its remarkable how you were able to make a poem that sounds good in two languages! That's super impressive and I commend you for it :) the vocabulary translates wonderfully in both languages, using a rhyme scheme in Latin and more of a unrhymed poetic feel in English. You used powerful words in English like "horrid, scourge, futility" and very powerful words in Latin as well ^^
The only thing I think you could improve on a little bit is just fancy and doesnt really did anything for the poems content in English. But in Latin the meter is different than in English (it also exclusively follows a ling short pattern, while there are many different patterns for Latin), and it would have been awesome to have seen that here too. Also Latins word order is flexible so you could have made the order a bit more symbolic, moving it around (kinda like how Vergil does in the Aeneid).
Overall, this is excellent! A super awesome poem and I loved to read it! I cant wait for more like this in the future!!! Bye for now and Peace and Tacos be with you!

TheRebel2007 says...

Thanks for the review! :p And yes, I could have moved the words around a bit, but I was afraid that my grammar will go haywire, so I didn't. Thanks again! :p

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Sun Jan 30, 2022 6:09 pm
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vampricone6783 wrote a review...

This was fun to read.It’s so detailed and has lovely imagery.In a few short lines,you described the effect wars have on people.And often,we’d ask ourselves:”What is the point of winning a war if you lose what is most dear?” Yet,we still must fight.It’s what happens.I hope you have a good and wonderful day and night!

TheRebel2007 says...

Thanks for the review! :p

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Sat Jan 29, 2022 10:00 pm
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WeepingWisteria wrote a review...

Hello! Lorde here with a short review of your work.

My Latin's a little rusty, seeing as the Romans fell in 395 AD, and you forget a few things when you live for millennia, so I can't comment on the Latin version. However, I can tell you that the English version is fantastic.

It seems silly, but I have to applaud you for using the word scourge. It's such a strong word, making the line much more powerful.

Your line length is consistent throughout, so no line feelings out of place. I'm a sucker for circle endings, so the fact that the poem ends with the same line it began with earns you a few extra points in my book.

My favorite line is "What use is it to seize the day/When your home is dead," it paints quite a vivid image. The taste of victory being washed out by the reality of massacre. Wonderful job.

Thank you for posting this poem. Happy writing!

TheRebel2007 says...

Thank you for the review, Lorde! :p

WeepingWisteria says...

Of course!

Sometimes poetry is inspired by the conversation entered into by reading other poems.
— John Barton