Carmen Possum

edited by Ellen Brundige


Note: There are a number variants and editions of this anonymous poem stretching back to the late 1800s. I've restored a few lines from older editions and corrected a few mistakes in recent versions.
The nox was lit by lux of Luna,
And 'twas a nox most opportuna
To catch a possum or a coona;
For nix was scattered o'er this mundus,
A shallow nix, et non profundus.
On sic a nox with canis unus
Two boys went out to hunt for coonus.
The corpus of this bonus canis
Was full as long as octo span is,
But brevior legs had canis never
Quam canis hic bonus et clever.
Some used to say, in stultum jocum,
Quod a field was too small locum
For sic a dog to make a turnus
Circum self from stem ad sternus.
Unus canis, duo puer,
Nunquam braver, nunquam truer,
Quam hoc trio unquam fuit.
(If there was I never knew it.)
This bonus dog had one bad habit:
Amabat much to tree a rabbit,
Amabat plus to chase a rattus,
Amabat bene tree a cattus.
But on this nixy moonlight night
This old canis did just right.
Nunquam treed a starving rattus,
Nunquam chased a starving cattus,
But cucurrit on, intentus
On the track and on the scentus,
Till he trees a possum strongum,
In a hollow trunkum longum.
Loud he barked in horrid bellum,
On terra seemed venisse hellum.
Quickly ran the duo puer
Mors of possum to secure.
Cum venerit, one began
To chop away like quisque man.
Soon the axe went through the trunkum
Soon he hit it per kerchunkum;
Combat deepens, on ye braves!
Canis, pueri et staves.
As his powers non longius tarry,
Possum potest non pugnare.
On the nix his corpus lieth;
Down to Hades spirit flieth.
Joyful puers, canis bonus,
Think him dead as any stonus.
"Aint his corpus like a jelly?"
Quid plus proof ought hunter velle?
Now they seek their pater's domo,
Feeling proud as any homo,
Knowing certe they will blossom
Into heroes, when with possum
They arrive, narrabunt story,
Plenus blood et plenior glory.
Pompey, David, Samson, Caesar,
Cyrus, Black Hawk, Shalmanezer,
Tell me where est now the gloria,
Where the honors of victoria?
Nunc a domum narrent story,
Plenus sanguine, tragic, gory.
Pater praiseth, likewise mater,
Wonders greatly younger frater.
Possum leave they on the mundus,
Go themselves to sleep profundus.
Somniunt possums slain in battle,
Strong as ursae, large as cattle.
When nox gives way to lux of morning,
Albam terram much adorning,
Up they jump to see the varmin,
Of the which hoc est the carmen.
Lo! possum est resurrectum!
Ecce pueri dejectum,
Possum linquit track behind him,
Sed the puers never find him.
Cruel possum! bestia vilest!
How the puers tu beguilest!
Puers think non plus of Caesar,
Go ad Orcum, Shalmanezer,
Take your laurels, cum the honor,
Since iste possum is a goner!