It is said that the blues cannot truly be defined. It seems right, then, that the full beauty and force of one of the first great phrases so quintessentially and timelessly of the blues—“sunt lacrimae rerum,” from the first book of Virgil’s Aeneid—has through the ages been a mystery as well as a majesty of expressiveness. Sunt lacrimae rerum. [There] are tears [for] things. [There] are tears [of] things. [There] are tears [from] things. Bare bones that cannot be rendered. Every attempt at faithful translation, literal or through wildly grasping poetic liberty, has failed. Rerum has been posited as “trials,” the oddly singular “misfortune,” and all manner of other—what else to call them?—things that the word never remotely denoted in Latin. The poet John Dryden’s famous translation of 1697 avoids the problem entirely: it is as if the phrase never existed. A modern scholar of language comes vaguely close in explicating lacrimae rerum as “the sense of tears in mortal things,” but this cannot serve as translation, for the verb sunt is plural and “the sense of tears in mortal things” is a nominal phrase that is inescapably singular. Lacrimae rerum. The ambiguity of the unstated genitive preposition is immense. The ambiguity of the all-encompassing “things” is insurmountable; and real or imagined echoes of “natura rerum,” by which Cicero expressed the sum and magnitude of the human universe, and of Lucretius’s “rerumnatura,” taken to mean “the nature of things,” cannot but be heard in Virgil’s words, for through such echoes his words may have been cast not only to signify the tears caused by and shed for things, but to evoke as well a world in which all was sorrow, a world in which the nature of all things was sadness. This is the natural and numinous world that is glimpsed throughout the Aerteid, as when echoes of mourning. the amber- weeping pines, and their sea-like billowing (“arbore fluctum” X, 207) are brought together by the poet’s magic of black and gold. Fluctum. Fluxus. Flow. Everything flows, as Hericletus said. Every thing.Lacrimae rerum. A phrase of illimitable nuances of meaning, illimitable nuances of feeling; a phrase of illimitable possibilities, blue and vast as the sky itself. Lacrimae rerum. The sky is crying.