Archive for ‘Translation’

Saturday, 17 February 2018

An Elegiac Poem Complaining About Grief by Desiderius Erasmus

Although gray hair has not yet begun to
whiten the top of my head and fallen hair has
not left me with a shining forehead, although
advanced age has not dimmed my eyesight
and no blackened tooth has fallen from a
rotten mouth and stiff bristles have not yet
made my arms prickly and my skin does not
hang loose on a withered body – in short,
although I see in myself none of the signs of
old age, the lot assigned me by God is
contrived to make me miserable, I know not
how. He has decided to make me bear the
afflictions of old age during my tender years,
and he wants me to be already old, and yet he
does not allow me to grow old. Care and
sorrow, which would sprinkle my temples with
sad gray hair, have come before their time.

From: Erasmus, Desiderius, Miller, Clarence H. (transl.) and Vredeveld, Harry (ed.), Collected Works of Erasmus: Poems, 1993, University of Toronto Press: Toronto/Buffalo/London, p. 235.
(https://books.google.com.au/books?id=PoCY-z-mhTcC)

Date: ?1487 (original in Latin); 1993 (translation in English)

By: Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536)

Translated by: Clarence H. Miller (c1930- )

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Friday, 16 February 2018

Granada by Ibn Zamrak

Stay awhile here on the terrace of the Sabīka and look about you.
This city is a wife, whose husband is the hill:
Girt she is by water and by flowers,
Which glisten at her throat,
Ringed with streams; and behold the groves of trees which are
the wedding guests, whose thirst is being assuaged by
the water-channels.
The Sabīka hill sits like a garland on Granada’s brow,
In which the stars would be entwined,
And the Alhambra (God preserve it)
Is the ruby set above that garland.
Granada is a bride whose headdress is the Sabīka, and whose
jewels and adornments are its flowers.

From: Harvey, L.P., Islamic Spain 1250 to 1500, 2014, The University of Chicago Press: Chicago and London, p. 219.
(https://books.google.com.au/books?id=nWyXAwAAQBAJ)

Date: c1350 (original in Arabic); 1990 (translation in English)

By: Ibn Zamrak (1333-1393)

Translated by: Leonard Patrick Harvey (1929- )

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Oh Stormy Winds, Bring Up the Clouds by Henjō (Yoshimine no Munesada)

Oh stormy winds, bring up the clouds,
And paint the heavens grey;
Lest these fair maids of form divine
Should angel wings display,
And fly far far away.

From: Porter, William N. (transl.), A Hundred Verses from Old Japan, being a translation of the Hyaku-nin-isshiu, 1909, Clarendon Press: London, p. 12.
(http://www.sacred-texts.com/shi/hvj/hvj013.htm)

Date: c850 (original in Japanese); 1909 (translation in English)

By: Henjō (Yoshimine no Munesada) (816-890)

Translated by: William N. Porter (1849-1929)

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Three Dirges: 2 by Tao Yuanming (Tao Qian)

In former days I wanted wine to drink;
The wine this morning fills the cup in vain.
I see the spring mead with its floating foam,
And wonder when to taste of it again.
The feast before me lavishly is spread,
My relatives and friends beside me cry.
I wish to speak but lips can shape no voice,
I wish to see but light has left my eye.
I slept of old within the lofty hall,
Amidst wild weeds to rest I now descend.
When once I pass beyond the city gate
I shall return to darkness without end.

From: Minford, John and Lau, Joseph, M. S. (eds.), Classical Chinese Literature: An Anthology of Translations. Volume I: From Antiquity to the Tang Dynasty, 2000, Columbia University Press: New York and The Chinese University Press: Hong Kong, p. 514.
(https://books.google.com.au/books?id=GV8BltnoGGMC)

Date: 427 (original); 1993 (translation)

By: Tao Yuanming (Tao Qian) (365-427)

Translated by: Gladys Yang (1919-1999) and Yang Xianyi (1915-2009)

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Pandora: Lines 102-175 from “Works and Days” by Hesiod

Thus spake and laugh’d of Gods and Men the Sire,
And straight enjoin’d the famous God of Fire
To mingle, instantly, with water earth;
The voice and vigour of a human birth
Imposing in it, and so fair a face
As match’d th’ Immortal Goddesses in grace,
Her form presenting a most lovely maid.
Then on Minerva his command he laid
To make her work, and wield the witty loom.
And, for her beauty, such as might become
The golden Venus, he commanded her
Upon her brows and countenance to confer
Her own bewitchings; stuffing all her breast
With wild desires incapable of rest,
And cares that feed to all satiety
All human lineaments. The crafty Spy
And Messenger of Godheads, Mercury,
He charg’d t’ inform her with a dogged mind,
And thievish manners. All as he design’d
Was put in act. A creature straight had frame
Like to a virgin, mild and full of shame;
Which Jove’s suggestion made the Both-foot-lame
Form so deceitfully, and all of earth
To forge the living matter of her birth.
Grey-eyed Minerva put her girdle on,
And show’d how loose parts, well composed, shone.
The deified Graces, and the Dame that sets
Sweet words in chief form, golden carquenets
Embrac’d her neck withal. The fair-hair’d Hours
Her gracious temples crown’ d with fresh spring-flowers.
But of all these, employ’ d in several place,
Pallas gave order the impulsive grace.
Her bosom Hermes, the great God of spies,
With subtle fashions fill’d, fair words, and lies;
Jove prompting still. But all the voice she us’d
The vocal herald of the Gods infus’d,
And call’d her name Pandora, since on her
The Gods did all their several gifts confer;
Who made her such, in every moving strain,
To he the bane of curious-minded men.

Her harmful and inevitable frame
At all parts perfect, Jove dismiss’d the Dame
To Epimetheus, in his herald’s guide,
With all the Gods’ plagues in a box beside.
Nor Epimetheus kept one word in store
Of what Prometheus had advised before,
Which was: That Jove should fasten on his hand
No gift at all, but he his wile withstand,
And back return it, lest with instant ill
To mortal men he all the world did fill.
But he first took the gift, and after griev’d.
For first the families of mortals:
Without and free from ill: harsh labour then,
Nor sickness, hasting timeless age on men,
Their hard and wretched tasks impos’d on them
For manv years; but now a violent stream
Of all afflictions in an instant came,
And quench’d life’s light that shin’d before in flame.
For when the woman the unwieldy lid
Had once discover’d, all the miseries hid
In that curs’d cabinet dispers’d and flew
About the world; joys pined, and sorrows grew.
Hope only rested in the box’s brim,
And took not wing from thence. Jove prompted him
That ow’d the cabinet to clap it close
Before she parted; but unnumber’d woes
Besides encount’red men in all their ways;
Full were all shores of them, and full all seas.
Diseases, day and night, with natural wings
And silent entries stole on men their stings;
The great in counsels, Jove, their voices reft,
That not the truest might avoid their theft,
Nor any ‘scape the ill, in any kind,
Resolv’d at first in his almighty mind.

From: Chapman, George (transl.) and Hooper, Richard (ed.), Homer’s Batrachomyomachia, Hymns and Epigrams. Hesiod’s Works and Days. Musæus’ Hero and Leander. Juvenal’s Fifth Satire, 1858, John Russell Smith: London, pp. 153-157.
(https://archive.org/details/homersbatrachomy00chap

Date: c700 BCE (original in Greek); 1618 (translation in English)

By: Hesiod (c750 BCE-c650 BCE)

Translated by: George Chapman (c1559-1634)

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

War and Wine by Jean Le Houx

I am as brave as Caesar in this war
Armed to the very teeth with jug and glass;
Better a charge of wine that leaves no scar
Than bullets spilling life that soon must pass.

Give me the bottles for the battle’s clash,
Barrels and casks of rich vermilion wine
For my artillery with which to smash
This thirst that I invest and undermine.

As far as I can see the man’s a clown
Who would not rather get his broken head
By drinking than by fighting for renown;
What use will his renown be when he’s dead?

The head brought down by drinking can recover;
When the wind buffets if you feel some pain,
Then after a short sleep the trouble’s over;
On battlefields all remedy is vain.

Better to hide your nose in a tall glass
Than in a casque-of-war, more safe, I think,
Than following horn and ensign, just to pass
Beneath the yew and ivy to a drink.

Better beside the fire drinking muscatel,
Here inside the tavern and never in default,
Than outside on the ramparts playing sentinel
Or following a captain to the breach, to the assault!

But I dislike and do not seek excess.
Good drinker, not born drunkard, is my due.
Good wine, that makes for laughter and friendliness,
I’ve promised more than I can keep to you.

From: Currey, R.N., Collected Poems, 2001, David Philip & James Currey: Oxford & Cape Town, pp. 222-223.
(https://books.google.com.au/books?id=vkivkL-OohwC)

Date: 1610 (original in French); 1938 (translation in English)

By: Jean Le Houx (1551-1616)

Translated by: Ralph Nixon Currey (1907-2001)

Monday, 29 January 2018

I See and Hear by Oswald von Wolkenstein

I see and hear
that many a person laments about the disappearance of his property;
I, on the other hand, only lament about the disappearance of my youth,
the disappearance of my carefree attitude
and of that what I used to do at that time
without any consciousness about it because the earth provided me with support.
Now, being hampered by bodily failure,
my head, back, legs, hands, and feet alert me to the approaching old age.
Whatever sins I might have committed without any need,
you, sir body, make me pay for this recklessness
with paleness, red eyes,
wrinkles, grey hair: I can no longer do big jumps.
My heart, my brain, my tongue, and my strides have become hard to move,
I am walking bent over,
my trembling weakens all my limbs.
When I sing I only intonate “O dear!”
I sing nothing else day in and day out;
my tenor has become rather rough.

My wavy blond hair
that once covered my head with curls,
now displays its beauty in grey and black,
bald spots form a round shield,
my red lips are turning blue,
which makes me look disgusting to the beloved.
My teeth have become
loose and ugly and do no longer serve for chewing.
Even if all material in this world belonged to me,
I would not be able to get the teeth renewed,
nor to purchase a carefree attitude.
This would be possible only in a dream.
My abilities to fight, to jump, and to run rapidly
have turned into limping.
Instead of singing,
I do nothing but utter coughing sounds.
My breathing has become heavy.
The cold earth would be the best for me
because I have lost my strength and am not worth much.

Oh, young man,
recognize this: do not rely on your physical beauty,
or on your upright growth or your strength. Turn upwards
[to heaven] with spiritual songs.
As you are now, I have been before.
Once you will be like me, you will not regret to have acted properly.
There is nothing better for me now
but to strive toward living according to God’s will
with fasting, praying, and attending church service,
to kneel down to pray.
But I am not strong enough to do any of this
because my body is no longer strong enough to sustain itself because of old age.
Constantly I see everything fourfold instead of in its real shape
and hear everything muted by a thick rock.
The children are mocking at me,
and so the young ladies.
My lack of reason brought this upon me.
Young men and women, do not forget God’s grace.

From: von Wolkenstein, Oswald and Classen, Albrecht (ed. and transl.), The Poems of Oswald von Wolkenstein: An English Translation of the Complete Works (1376/77-1445), 2008, Palgrave MacMillan: New York, pp. 51-52.
(https://books.google.com.au/books?id=UcPIAAAAQBAJ)

Date: c1430 (original in Middle High German); 2008 (translation in English)

By: Oswald von Wolkenstein (1376/77-1445)

Translated by: Albrecht Classen (1956- )

Sunday, 28 January 2018

To a Little Man with a Very Large Beard by Isaac ben Khalif

How can thy chin that burden bear?
Is it all gravity to shock?
Is it to make the people stare?
And be thyself a laughing stock?

When I behold thy little feet
After thy beard obsequious run,
I always fancy that I meet
Some father followed by his son.

A man like thee scarce e’er appear’d –
A beard like thine – where shall we find it?
Surely thou cherishest thy beard
In hopes to hide thyself behind it.

From: Carlyle, J.D., Specimens of Arabian Poetry, From the Earliest Times to the Extinction of the Khaliphat, with Some Accounts of the Authors, 1796, John Burges: Cambridge, p. 148.
(https://books.google.com.au/books?id=BXg_AQAAMAAJ)

Date: ?11th century (original in Persian); 1796 (translation in English)

By: Isaac ben Khalif (?11th century)

Translated by: Joseph Dacre Carlyle (1758-1804)

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Excerpt from “Lamiyat al-Ajam (The L-Poem of the Foreigner)” by Abu Esmail Moayed-o-din Hosein-ebn-e-ali Esfahani Togharayi

No kind supporting hand I meet,
But Fortitude shall stay my feet;
No borrowed splendours round me shine,
But Virtue’s lustre all is mine:
A fame unsullied still I boast,
Obscured, concealed, but never lost —
The same bright orb that led the day
Pours from the west his mellowed ray.

Zaura, farewell! No more I see
Within thy walls a home for me;
Deserted, spurned, aside I’m tossed,
As an old sword whose scabbard’s lost:
Around thy walls I seek in vain,
Some bosom that will soothe my pain —
No friend is near to breathe relief,
Or brother to partake my grief.

For many a melancholy day
Through desert vales I’ve wound my way;
The faithful beast whose back I press
In groans laments her lord’s distress;
In every quivering of my spear
A sympathetic sigh I hear;
The camel, bending with his load,
And struggling through the thorny road,
Midst the fatigues that bear him down,
In Hassan’s woes forgets his own; —
Yet cruel friends my wanderings chide,
My sufferings slight, my toils deride.

Once wealth, I own, engrossed each thought;
There was a moment when I sought
The glittering stores Ambition claims
To feed the wants his fancy frames;
But now ’tis past: the changing day
Has snatched my high-built hopes away,
And bade this wish my labours close, —
Give me not riches, but repose.

From: Clouston, W.A., Arabian Poetry for English Readers, 1881, Privately Printed: Glasgow, pp. 153-154.
(https://archive.org/details/arabianpoetryfo00clougoog)

Date: 11th century (original in Persian); 1796 (translation in English)

By: Abu Esmail Moayed-o-din Hosein-ebn-e-ali Esfahani Togharayi (1045-1105)

Translated by: Joseph Dacre Carlyle (1758-1804)

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

The Flight of the Earls* by Aindrais MacMarcuis

This night sees Eire desolate,
Her chiefs are cast out of their state;
Her men, her maidens weep to see
Her desolate that should peopled be.

How desolate is Connla’s plain,
Though aliens swarm in her domain;
Her rich bright soil had joy in these
That now are scattered overseas.

Man after man, day after day
Her noblest princes pass away
And leave to all the rabble rest
A land dispeopled of her best.

O’Donnell goes. In that stern strait
Sore-stricken Ulster mourns her fate,
And all the northern shore makes moan
To hear that Aodh of Annagh’s gone.

Men smile at childhood’s play no more
Music and song, their day is o’er;
At wine, at Mass the kingdom’s heirs
Are seen no more; changed hearts are theirs.

They feast no more, they gamble not,
All goodly pastime is forgot,
They barter not, they race no steeds,
They take no joy in stirring deeds.

No praise in builded song expressed
They hear, no tales before they rest;
None care for books and none take glee
To hear the long-traced pedigree.

The packs are silent, there’s no sound
Of the old strain on Bregian ground.
A foreign flood holds all the shore,
And the great wolf-dog barks no more.

Woe to the Gael in this sore plight!
Hence forth they shall not know delight.
No tidings now their woe relieves,
Too close the gnawing sorrow cleaves.

These the examples of their woe:
Israel in Egypt long ago,
Troy that the Greek hosts set on flame,
And Babylon that to ruin came.

Sundered from hope, what friendly hand
Can save the sea-surrounded land?
The clan of Conn no Moses see
To lead them from captivity.

Her chiefs are gone. There’s none to bear
Her cross or lift her from despair;
The grieving lords take ship. With these
Our very souls pass overseas.

*Note: The Flight of the Earls occurred in 1607 when the Earl of Tyrone and the Earl of Tyrconnell left Ireland following the end of the Nine Years’ War and the English victory under King James I. It is considered the end of Gaelic Ireland.

From: Green, David H. (ed.), An Anthology of Irish Literature, Volume I, 1985, New York University Press: New York, pp.197-199.
(https://books.google.com.au/books?id=tWsVCgAAQBAJ)

Date: 1608 (original in Gaelic); 1947 (translation in English)

By: Aindrais MacMarcuis (fl. 1608)

Translated by: Robin Ernest William Flower (1881-1946)