Archive for ‘Translation’

Sunday, 22 July 2018

I Had Hoped to Keep Secret by Mibu no Tadami

I had hoped to keep secret
feelings that had begun to stir
within my heart,
but already rumours are rife
that I am in love with you.

From: MacMillan, Peter (ed. and transl.), One Hundred Poets, One Poem Each: A Treasury of Classical Japanese Verse, 2018, Penguin: London , p. 41.
(https://books.google.com.au/books?id=UDdmDQAAQBAJ

Date: 10th century (original in Japanese); 2008 (translation in English)

By: Mibu no Tadami (10th century)

Translated by: Peter MacMillan (19??- )

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Saturday, 21 July 2018

Hill-Dwelling Cuckoo by Mibu no Tadamine

Hill-dwelling cuckoo
pouring forth his ceaseless song:
perhaps he thinks them
too short — summer nights ending
the moment they have begun.

From: McCullough, Helen Craig (ed. and transl.), Kokin Wakashū: The First Imperial Anthology of Japanese Poetry, 1985, Stanford University Press: Stanford, California, p. 44.
(https://books.google.com.au/books?id=h8PjRkVxrrgC)

Date: c895 (original in Japanese); 1985 (translation in English)

By: Mibu no Tadamine (fl. 898-920)

Translated by: Helen Craig McCullough (1918-1998)

Friday, 20 July 2018

The Wife’s Thoughts by Xu Gan

Clouds that drift so far and free
I’d ask to bear my message,
but their whirling shapes accept no charge;
wandering, halting, I long in vain.
Those who part all meet once more;
you alone send no word of return.
Since you went away,
my shining mirror darkens with neglect.
Thoughts of you are like the flowing river—
when will they ever end?

From: Minford, John and Lau, Joseph S. M. (eds.), Classical Chinese Literature: An Anthology of Translations. Volume I: From Antiquity to the Tang Dynasty, 2002, Columbia University Press: New York and The Chinese University Press: Hong Kong, pp. 421-422.
(https://books.google.com.au/books?id=GV8BltnoGGMC)

Date: c200 (original); 1984 (translation)

By: Xu Gan (171-217)

Translated by: Burton Dewitt Watson (1925-2017)

Thursday, 19 July 2018

Soothsayers by Quintus Ennius

For no Marsian augur (whom fools view with awe),
Nor diviner nor star-gazer, care I a straw;
The Egyptian quack, an expounder of dreams,
Is neither in science nor art what he seems;
Superstitious and shameless, they prowl through our streets,
Some hungry, some crazy, but all of them cheats.
Impostors who vaunt that to others they’ll show
A path, which themselves neither travel nor know.
Since they promise us wealth, if we pay for their pains,
Let them take from that wealth, and bestow what remains.

From: Dunlop, John, History of Roman Literature, From Its Earliest Period to the Augustan Age. In two volumes. Second Edition, Volume I, 1824, Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, Brown, and Green: London, p. 96.
(https://books.google.com.au/books?id=NtFaAAAAcAAJ)

Date: 2nd century BCE (original in Latin); 1828 (translation in English)

By: Quintus Ennius (c239 BCE-c169 BCE)

Translated by: John Colin Dunlop (1785-1842)

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Military Elegy: Courage by Tyrtæus

Ne’er would I praise that man, nor deign to sing,
First in the race, or strongest at the ring,
Not though he boast a ponderous Cyclop’s force,
Or rival Boreas in his rapid course;
Not tho’ Aurora might his name adore,
Tho’ eastern riches swell his countless store,
Tho’ power and splendour to his name belong,
And soft persuasion dwell upon his tongue,
Tho’ all but god-like valour, were his own:

My muse is sacred to the brave alone;
Who can look carnage in the face, and go
Against the foremost warriors of the foe.

By heaven high courage to mankind was lent,
Best attribute of youth, best ornament.
The man whom blood and danger fail to daunt,
Fearless who fights, and ever in the front,
Who bids his comrades barter useless breath
For a proud triumph, or a prouder death,
He is my theme — He only, who can brave
With single force the battle’s rolling wave,
Can turn his enemies to Might, and fall
Beloved, lamented, deified by all.
His household gods, his own parental land
High in renown, by him exalted stand;
Alike the heirs and founders of his name
Share his deserts and borrow from his fame
He, pierced in front with many a gaping wound,
Lies, great and glorious, on the bloody ground,
From every eye he draws one general tear,
And a whole nation follows to his bier;
Illustrious youths sigh o’er his early doom,
And late posterity reveres his tomb.
Ne’er shall his memorable virtue die,
Tho’ cold in earth, immortal as the sky;
He for his country fought, for her expired:
Oh would all imitate whom all admired!
But if he sleep not with the mighty dead,
And living laurels wreathe his honour’d head,
By old, by young, adored, he gently goes
Down a smooth pathway to his long repose,
Unaltering friends still love his hairs of snow,
And rising elders in his presence bow.
Would ye, like him, the wond’ring world engage,
Draw the keen blade, and let the battle rage!

From: Peter, William (ed.), Specimens of the Poets and Poetry of Greece and Rome by Various Translators, 1848, Carey and Hart: Philadelphia, p. 27.
(https://archive.org/details/spe00cimensofpoetspeterich

Date: 7th century BCE (original in Greek); 1848 (translation in English)

By: Tyrtæus (7th century BCE)

Translated by: Francis Hodgson (1781-1852)

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Paris by Night by Tristan Corbière

It’s not a city, it’s a world

—  It’s the sea: — dead calm — The Spring tide has felt bound,
With a distant rumbling, to withdraw its sway.
Its waves will return, rolling themselves in their sound —
—  Can you hear the crabs of night scratching away…

—  It’s the dried-up Styx: Rag ’n bone Diogenes,
Lantern in hand, wanders down it; he never squirms
But it’s the black gutter where depraved poets please
To cast their lines, their hollow skulls the cans for worms.

—  It’s the wheat-field: Hideous harpies swirl and swoop
On what’s impure, gleaning shreds of lint caked in pus.
The alley cat, on the watch for rats, flees the troop
Of Shit-creek’s sons, harvesters of night’s detritus.

—  It’s death: Here lieth the police — And love, upstairs,
Taking a siesta, sucks a heavy arm’s meat
Where an old love-bite’s left its blotch — Love is for pairs —
The hour is solitary — Listen: … dreams drag their feet…

—  It’s life: Listen: the spring water is up for air,
Singing its everlasting song, that seems to slide
Over a sea-god’s slimy head, and his stretched bare
Green limbs on the bed of the Morgue… Eyes open wide!

From: https://universitypress.whiterose.ac.uk/site/alt-publishing/

Date: 1873 (original in French); 2017 (translation in English)

By: Tristan Corbière (1845-1875)

Translated by: Christopher Pilling (1936- )

Friday, 13 July 2018

For the Book of Love by Jules Laforgue

I may be dead tomorrow, uncaressed.
My lips have never touched a woman’s, none
Has given me in a look her soul, not one
Has ever held me swooning at her breast.

I have but suffered, for all nature, trees
Whipped by the winds, wan flowers, the ashen sky,
Suffered with all my nerves, minutely, I
Have suffered for my soul’s impurities.

And I have spat on love, and, mad with pride,
Slaughtered my flesh, and life’s revenge I brave,
And, while the whole world else was Instinct’s slave,
With bitter laughter Instinct I defied.

In drawing-rooms, the theatre, the church,
Before cold men, the greatest, most refined,
And women with eyes jealous, proud, or kind,
Whose tender souls no lust would seem to smirch.

I thought: This is the end for which they work.
Beasts coupling with the groaning beasts they capture.
And all this dirt for just three minutes’ rapture!
Men, be correct! And women, purr and smirk!

From: http://www.blackcatpoems.com/l/for_the_book_of_love.html

Date: 1885 (original in French); 1912 (translation in English)

By: Jules Laforgue (1860-1887)

Translated by: Jethro Bithell (1878-1962)

Monday, 9 July 2018

In Memoriam Myself by Jan Jacob Slauerhoff

By enemies hemmed in,
With ‘friends in need’ who’ve fled
Rank meat that stinks like sin,
I laugh, toss back my head,
Though torn to shreds within,
My body all but dead.

Each day my life was crossed
By new adversity.
Good reaped iniquity;
I paid a heavy cost,
But now the battle’s lost
I fight on doggedly.

Snow, ice envelop me,
The bodies are piled high
Of those who crazily
Pursued my inner ‘I’,
Once bright as ‘gay Paree’,
Now polar, frozen, dry.

I leave no last bequest,
Smash life’s work at a stroke;
No mercy I request,
Curse past and future folk;
Stand tall where they now rest,
And treat death as a joke.

I look fate in the eye,
Have said not one goodbye,
But want men when I die
To say just this of me:
‘He did good very ill,
Served bad with honest will,
Succumbed while battling still,
Undaunted, lived his fill,
Intolerant and free.’

From: http://www.dbnl.org/tekst/_low001199901_01/_low001199901_01_0020.php

Date: 1936 (original in Dutch); 1999 (translation in English)

By: Jan Jacob Slauerhoff (1898-1936)

Translated by: Paul Vincent (1942- )

Saturday, 7 July 2018

Dapper Street by Jakobus Cornelis (Jacques) Bloem

Nature is for the satisfied or hollow.
And what does it add up to in this land?
A patch of wood, some ripples in the sand,
A modest hill where modest villas follow.

Give me the city streets, the urban grey,
Quays and canals that keep the water tamed,
The clouds that never look finer than when, framed
By attic windows, they go their windswept way.

The least expectant have most to marvel at.
Life keeps its wonders under lock and key
Until it springs them on us, rich, complete.

One dreary morning all this dawned on me,
When, soaking wet in drizzly Dapper Street,
I suddenly felt happy, just like that.

From: Broer, Dick; Möhlmann, Thomas; den Ouden, Barbara; Schiferli, Victor; Steinz, Pieter; Valken, Maarten; and Vogt, Agnes (eds.), Dutch Classics: Poetry, 2012, Letterenfonds/Dutch Foundation for Literature: Amsterdam, p. 42.
(www.letterenfonds.nl/download.php?file=Dutch-Classics-2012-poetry.pdf)

Date: 1945 (original in Dutch); 2008 (translation in English)

By: Jakobus Cornelis (Jacques) Bloem (1887-1966)

Translated by: Judith Wilkinson (1959- )

Monday, 2 July 2018

When Days Grow Long in May by Jaufre Rudel

When days grow long in May
I rejoice in songs of birds from afar,
For now that I have traveled far
I think of a love from far away.
So bent and bowed with desire I go
That neither song nor hawthorn flower
Pleases me more than winter’s snow.

No love will ever make me glad
Unless I rejoice in this love from afar;
I know no lady as fair or good
Anywhere, near or far.
She is so true, so pure
That over there, in Saracen lands,
I’d gladly be captured for her.

Sad but rejoicing, I’d take my leave
If I could see this love from afar;
But I do not know when we’ll meet,
For our lands lie far apart.
The passes and roads are so abundant
That I cannot see what lies ahead,
But let all be as it pleases God.

Surely joy will come to me, come from far
When for love of God, I seek my lodging there.
And if it pleases her, I shall reside
Close by her though I come from afar.
Then we shall speak truly, one to another,
When I come so near, a faraway lover,
That her gracious words will bring me joy.

Indeed I’ll know the lord is true
Who lets me see this love from afar,
But for every blessing that comes my way
I feel two blows, she’s so far away.
I wish I could go as a pilgrim
And see my staff and cloak
Reflected in her lovely eyes!

May God, who made what comes or goes
And created this love from afar,
Give me power, for I have the desire
Soon to see this love from afar
Truly, in places so pleasant
That chamber and garden
Will always seem a palace to me.

He speaks the truth who says I yearn
And lust for love from afar,
For no other joy so pleases me
As the pleasure of love from afar.
But the woman I want despises me,
Since my godfather doomed me
To love but never to be loved.

But the woman I want despises me;
A curse on the godfather
Who doomed me never to be loved!

From: Paden, William D. and Paden, Frances Freeman (transl. and eds.), Troubadour Poems from the South of France, 2007, D. S. Brewer: Cambridge, pp. 34-35.
(https://the-eye.eu/public/Books/Poetry/Troubadour%20Poems%20from%20the%20South%20of%20France.pdf)

Date: 12th century (original in Occitan); 2007 (translation in English)

By: Jaufre Rudel (1113-1147)

Translated by: William Doremus Paden (1941- ) and Frances Freeman Paden (1942- )