ubi sunt

ubi sunt

[oo-bee soont]
noun
a poetic motif emphasizing the transitory nature of youth, life, and beauty, found especially in medieval Latin poems.

Origin:
1910–15; < Medieval Latin Ubi sunt (quī ante nōs fuērunt?) Where are (those who were before us?)

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ubi sunt

a verse form in which the poem or its stanzas begin with the Latin words ubi sunt ("where are ") or their equivalent in another language and which has as a principal theme the transitory nature of all things. A well-known example is Francois Villon's "Ballade des dames du temps jadis" ("Ballade of the Ladies of Bygone Times"), with its refrain "Mais ou sont les neiges d'antan?'' ("But where are the snows of yesteryear?").

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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