The Name of the Rose
The novel, The Name of The Rose by Umberto Eco ends with the phrase:
"stat rosa pristina nomine, nomina nuda tenemus."
Eco explains this himself in Postcript to The Name of the Rose.
Since the publication of The Name of the Rose I have received
a number of letters from readers who want to know the meaning of
the final Latin hexameter, and why this hexameter inspired the
book's title. I answer that the verse is from De contemptu mundi
by Bernard of Morlay, a twelfth-century Benedictine, whose poem is
a variation on the "ubi sunt" theme (most familiar in Villon's
later "Mais ou sont les neiges d'antan"). But to the usual topos
(the great of yesteryear, the once-famous cities, the lovely
princesses: everything disappears into the void), Bernard adds that
all these departed things leave (only, or at least) pure names
behind them. I remember that Abelard used the example of the
sentence "Nulla rosa est" to demonstrate how language can speak of
both the nonexistent and the destroyed. And having said this, I
leave the reader to arrive at his own conclusions.