Archive for ‘Translation’

Thursday, 17 January 2019

From “Contr’Amours (Counter Loves)” by Étienne Jodelle

O you who have the head of Jove
For father and mother, who as you please
Can wage a war or keep the peace,
If I be yours and praise you alone

And if I distress for you the goddess
Who bore false Love, he whose arrows
Of peace and war, charms and sorrows,
Are plunging your poet into madnes,

Then come, come help avenge your suitor.
Bring me the writhing locks of the Gorgons,
Squeeze the filthy paunch of your dragons,

Get me so drunk on Stygian water
That I puke such ordure on the lady
As she hoards in her soul and body.


Date: c1570 (original in French); 2000 (translation in English)

By: Étienne Jodelle (1532-1573)

Translated by: Geoffrey Brock (1964- )

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

A.N. to Niccolò de Facina of Vicenza, who suspected that she had not composed the poem she sent to him, but had borrowed it from elsewhere by Angela Nogarola

It does not please me to place others’ clothes
On my limbs and to circle my arms with another’s
Light feathers: I know the story of the painted crow.
Nor do I care to mount the praises for virtue
and to ascribe the laurels of the ancient poets to myself.
I have modesty and love of virtue and decorum of thought.
But no wonder moves my mind, that (the lines)
are not thought by anyone (?) to have been forged by my bellows
and are denied to have been made in my ancestral…
For the cohorts of women begin their practice,
because in modern times it is said no women has tasted
the Gorgons’ waters and heard the learned sisters,
But Nature, creator of all with equal reason,
you are said to form the male and female soul equally
and are accustomed to infuse them with equal minds.
Therefore, you do not need, O woman, to call on the ancient poets.
Nature’s gift has endowed both sexes.

From: Parker, Holt N., “Angela Nogarola (ca. 1400) and Isotta Nogarola (1418-1466): Thieves of Language” in Churchill, Laurie J., Brown, Phyllis R. and Jeffrey, Jane E., Women Writing Latin: From Roman Antiquity to Early Modern Europe, Volume 3, Early Modern Women Writing Latin, 2002, Routledge: New York, p. 25.

Date: c1400 (original in Latin); 2002 (translation in English)

By: Angela Nogarola (1380-1436)

Translated by: Holt N. Parker (1956- )

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

In My Garden by Ōtomo no Tabito

In my garden
plum blossoms fall—
or is not rain
but snow, cast down
from the sky?

From: Addiss, Stephen, The Art of Haiku: Its History Through Poems and Paintings by Japanese Masters, 2012, Shambhala Publications: Boston, p. 17.

Date: c8th century (original in Japanese); 1995 (translation in English)

By: Ōtomo no Tabito (665-731)

Translated by: Edwin Augustus Cranston (1932- )

Monday, 14 January 2019

To My Wife by Qin Jian

Mindful that I had soon to leave on service,
Farther and farther away from you every day,
I sent a carriage to bring you back;
But it went empty, and empty it returned.
I read your letter with feelings of distress;
At meals I cannot eat;
And I sit alone in this desolate chamber.
Who is there to solace and encourage me?
Through the long nights I cannot sleep,
And solitary I lie prostrate on my pillow, tossing and turning.
Sorrow comes as in a circle
And cannot be rolled up like a mat.


Date: 1st century (original); 1962 (translation)

By: Qin Jia (1st century)

Translated by: Albert Richard Davis (1924-1983)

Sunday, 13 January 2019

Your Humble Wife is Unwell by Xu Shu

Your humble wife is unwell,
Sickness prevents her from returning.
Lingering disease keeps her indoors,
Her health situation is not stable.
Imperial attendance is not worthy,
Respect goes to the wrong people.
You are on an official mission,
Going afar to the capital.
You will depart for long,
But we cannot meet.
Expectation and longing is intense,
Waiting only makes one restless.
I am missing my husband,
Your looks appear in dreams.

From: Peterson, Barbara Bennett (ed.), Notable Women of China: Shang Dynasty to the Early Twentieth Century, 2000, Routledge: Oxon, pp. [unnumbered].

Date: 1st century (original); 2000 (translation)

By: Xu Shu (1st century)

Translated by: Zhu Zhongliang (19??- )

Sunday, 6 January 2019

Print Thine Image, Pure and Holy by Thomas Hansen Kingo

Print thine image, pure and holy,
On my heart, O Lord of Grace;
So that nothing, high or lowly,
Thy blest likeness can efface.
Let the clear inscription be:
Jesus, crucified for me,
And the Lord of all creation,
Be my refuge and salvation.


Date: 1689 (original in Danish); 1945 (translation in English)

By: Thomas Hansen Kingo (1634-1703)

Translated by: Jens Christian Aaberg (1877-1970)

Saturday, 5 January 2019

Listen, People of This House by Iseabail Ní Mheic Cailéin

Listen, people of this house,
to the tale of the powerful penis
which has made my heart greedy.
I will write some of the tale.

Although many beautiful tree-like penises
have been in the time before,
this man of the religious order
has a penis so big and rigid.

The penis of my household priest,
although it is so long and firm,
the thickness of his manhood
has not been heard of for a long time.

That thick drill of his,
and it is no word of a lie,
never has its thickness been heard of
or a larger penis.


Date: 1500 (original in Gaelic); 2002 (translation in English)

By: Iseabail Ní Mheic Cailéin (fl. 1500)

Translated by: Malcolm Maclean (19??- ) and Theo Dorgan (1953- )

Friday, 4 January 2019

Prologue from “Life of St. Anne” by Osbern Bokenham with rough translation into almost modern English by flusteredduck

If I hadde cunnyng and eloquens
My conceytes craftely to dilate,
Als whilom hadde the fyrsh rethoryens
Gowere, Chauncere, and now Lytgate,
I wolde me besyn to translate
Seynt Anne Lyf into oure langage.
But sekyr I fere to gynne so late,
Lest men wolde ascryven it to dotage.
For wel I know that fer in age
I am runne, and my lyves date
Aprochith faste, and the fers rage
Of cruel Deth – so wyl my fate
Inevytable – hath at my gate
Set hys carte to carye me hens;
And I ne may ne can, thau I hym hate,
Ageyn hys fors make resistens.

Wherfore me thinkyth, and sothe it ys,
Best were for me to leve makynge
Of Englysh, and suche as ys amys
To reformyn in my lyvynge.
For that ys a ryght sovereyn cunnynge:
A man to knowen hys trespasce,
Wyth ful purpos of amendynge,
As ferforth as God wyl grawnte hym grace.
For whil a man hath leysere and space
Here in this wordlys abydynge,
Or than that Deth his brest enbrace,
To ransake his lyf in alle thynge
And wyth his conscience to make rekenynge
And ryhtyn ageyn al that wronge is,
He may not fayle, at his partynge
Owt of his lyf, to gon to blys.

If I had cunning and eloquence
My craftly conceits to dilate,
As in former days had the first rhetoricians
Gower, Chaucer, and now Lydgate,
I would me attempt to translate
Saint Anne’s life into our language.
But truly I fear to begin so late,
Lest men should ascribe it to dotage.
For well I know that far in age
I am run, and my life’s date
Approaches fast, and the fears rage
Of cruel Death – so will my fate
Inevitable – have at my gate
Set his cart to carry me hence;
And I may not nor can, though I him hate,
Against his force make resistance.

Wherefore me thinks, and truly it is,
Best were for me to leave making
Of English, and such as is amiss
To reform in my living.
For that is a right sovereign cunning;
A man to know his trespasses,
With full purpose of amending,
As insofar as God will grant him grace.
For while a man has leisure and space
Here in this world’s abiding,
Before that Death his breast release,
To ransack his life in all things
And with his conscience to make reckoning
And right again all that wrong is,
He may not fail, at his parting
Out of his life, to go on to bliss.


Date: c1447

By: Osbern Bokenham (?1393-?1494)

Monday, 17 December 2018

The House-Goblin (Tomten) by Abraham Viktor Rydberg

Cold is the night, and still, and strange,
Stars they glitter and shimmer.
All are asleep in the lonely grange
Under the midnight’s glimmer.
On glides the moon in gulfs profound;
Snow on the firs and pines around,
Snow on the roofs is gleaming.
All but the goblin are dreaming.

Gray he stands at the barnyard door,
Gray by the drifts of white there,
Looks, as oft he has looked before,
Up at the moon so bright there;
Looks at the woods, where the fir-trees tall
Shut the grange in with their dusky wall;
Ponders — some problem vexes,
Some strange riddle perplexes —

Passes his hand o’er beard and hair,
Shaking his head and cap then:
“Nay, that riddle’s too hard, I swear,
I’ll ne’er guess it mayhap then.”
But, as his wont is, he soon drives out
All such thoughts of disturbing doubt.
Frees his old head of dizziness.
And turns him at once to business.

First he tries if the locks are tight,
Safe against every danger.
Each cow dreams in the pale moonlight
Summer dreams by her manger.
Dobbin, forgetful of bits that gall,
Dreams like the cows in his well-filled stall,
Leaning his neck far over
Armfuls of fragrant clover.

Then through the bars he sees the sheep,
Watches how well they slumber.
Eyes the cock on his perch asleep,
Round him hens without number.
Carlo wakes at the goblin’s tread,
Wags then his tail and lifts his head;
Well acquainted the two are,
Friends that both tried and true are.

Last the goblin slips in to see
How all the folk are faring.
Long have they known how faithfully
He for their weal is caring.
Treading lightly on stealthy toes,
Into the children’s room he goes,
Looks at each tiny treasure:
That is his greatest pleasure.

So has he seen them, sire and son,
Year by year in that room there
Sleep first as children every one.
Ah, but whence did they come there?
This generation to that was heir,
Blossomed, grew old, and was gone — but where?
That is the hopeless, burning
Riddle ever returning.

Back to the barn he goes to rest,
Where he has fixed his dwelling
Up in the loft near the swallow’s nest,
Sweet there the hay is smelling.
Empty the swallow’s nest is now,
Back though he’ll come when the grass and bough
Bud in the warm spring weather,
He and his mate together.

Always they twitter away about
Places through which they’ve travelled,
Caring naught for the goblin’s doubt,
Though it were ne’er unravelled.
Through a chink in one of the walls
Moonlight on the old goblin falls,
White o’er his beard it wanders;
Still he puzzles and ponders.

Forest and field are silent all,
Frost their whole life congealing,
Save that the roar of the waterfall
Faintly from far is stealing.
Then the goblin, half in a dream,
Thinks it is Time’s unpausing stream,
Wonders whither ‘t is going,
And from what spring ‘t is flowing.

Cold is the night, and still, and strange,
Stars they glitter and shimmer.
All yet sleep in the lonely grange
Soundly till morn shall glimmer.
Now sinks the moon in night profound;
Snow on the firs and pines around,
Snow on the roofs is gleaming.
All but the goblin are dreaming.

From: Stork, Charles Wharton (ed. and transl.), Anthology of Swedish Lyrics From 1750 to 1915, 1917, The American-Scandinavian Society: New York, pp. 114-117.

Date: 1881 (original in Swedish); 1917 (translation in English)

By: Abraham Viktor Rydberg (1828-1895)

Translated by: Charles Wharton Stork (1881-1971)

Thursday, 13 December 2018

Searching for Light by Yao Feng (Yao Jingming)

The light retires to the lamp
and suddenly all is dark again
who out there has caught the night-moth
and instructs it in shadow?

After countless drills
the torn-winged moth
no longer knows how to fly
and trails through the twilight
crawling snail-slow
toward the light.


Date: 2018

By: Yao Feng (Yao Jingming) (1958- )

Translated by: Julia Sanches (19??- )