Archive for ‘Translation’

Wednesday, 28 September 2022

The Answer Quhilk Schir David Lindesay Maid to the Kingis Flyting by David Lyndsay with rough rendering into more modern English and notes by flusteredduck

Redoutit roy, your ragment I have red,
Quhilk dois perturb my dull intendement:
From your flyting, wald God that I wer fred,
Or ellis sum tygerris toung wer to me lent.
Schir, pardone me thocht I be impacient,
Quhilk bene so with your prunyeand pen detractit,
And rude report, from Venus court dejectit.

Lustie ladyis, that your libellis lukis
My cumpanie dois hald abhominable,
Commandand me beir cumpanie to the cukis;
Moist lyke ane devill, thay hald me detestable.
Thay banis me, sayand I am nocht able
Thame to compleis, or preis to thare presence.
Apon your pen I cry ane loud vengeance!

Wer I ane poeit, I suld preis with my pen
To wreik me on your vennemous wryting.
Bot I man do as dog dois in his den —
Fald baith my feit, or fle fast frome your flyting.
The mekle devil may nocht indure your dyting.
Quharefor cor mundum crea in me I cry,
Proclamand yow the prince of poetry.

Schir, with my prince pertenit me nocht to pley.
Bot sen your grace hes gevin me sic command
To mak answer, it must neidis me obey.
Thocht ye be now strang lyke ane elephand,
And in till Venus werkis maist vailyeand,
The day wyll cum, and that within few yeiris,
That ye wyll draw at laiser with your feiris.

Quhat can ye say forther, bot I am failyeit
In Venus werkis, I grant schir, that is trew;
The tyme hes bene, I wes better artailyeit
Nor I am now, bot yit full sair I rew
That ever I did mouth thankles so persew.
Quharefor tak tent and your fyne powder spair,
And waist it nocht bot gyf ye wit weill quhair.

Thocht ye rin rudelie, lyke ane restles ram,
Schutand your bolt at mony sindrie schellis,
Beleif richt weill, it is ane bydand gam.
Quharefore bewar with dowbling of the bellis,
For many ane dois haist thair awin saule knellis,
And speciallie quhen that the well gois dry,
Syne can nocht get agane sic stufe to by.

I give your counsale to the feynd of hell
That wald nocht of ane princes yow provide,
Tholand yow rin schutand frome schell to schell,
Waistand your corps, lettand the tyme overslyde.6
For lyke ane boisteous bull ye rin and ryde
Royatouslie, lyke ane rude rubeatour,
Ay fukkand lyke ane furious fornicatour.

On ladronis for to loip ye wyll nocht lat,
Howbeit the caribaldis cry the corinoch.
Remember how, besyde the masking fat,
Ye caist ane quene overthort ane stinking troch?
That feynd, with fuffilling of hir roistit hoch,
Caist doun the fat, quharthrow drink, draf and juggis
Come rudely rinnand doun about your luggis.

Wald God the lady that luffit yow best
Had sene yow thair ly swetterand lyke twa swyne!
Bot to indyte how that duddroun wes drest —
Drowkit with dreggis, quhimperand with mony quhryne —
That proces to report, it wer ane pyne.
On your behalf, I thank God tymes ten score
That yow preservit from gut and frome grandgore.

Now schir, fairwell, because I can nocht flyte,
And thocht I could, I wer nocht tyll avance
Aganis your ornate meter to indyte.

Bot yit, be war with lawbouring of your lance:
Sum sayis thar cummis ane bukler furth of France,
Quhilk wyll indure your dintis, thocht thay be dour.
Fairweill, of flowand rethorik the flour!

Quod Lindesay in his flyting
Aganis the Kingis dyting.

The Answer which Sir David Lindsay made to the King’s Scolding

Redoubtable king, your composition I have read,
Which does perturb my dull understanding:
From your scolding, would God that I were freed,
Or else that a tiger’s tongue were to me lent.
Sir, pardon me though I be impatient,
Who is being with your sharpened pen detracted,
And rude report, from Venus’ court dejected.

Lovely ladies, that your letters consult
My company do hold abominable,
Commanding me bear company to the cooks;
Most like a devil, they hold me detestable.
They banish me, saying I am not able
Them to please, or hasten to their presence.
Upon your pen I cry a loud vengeance!

Were I a poet, I should strive with my pen
To avenge me on your venomous writing.
But I must do as a dog does in his den—
Fold both my feet, or flee fast from your scolding.
The great devil may not endure your writing.
Wherefore “cor mundum crea in me” I cry,
Proclaiming you the prince of poetry.

Sir, with my prince it befits me not to contend.
But since your grace has given me such a command,
To make answer, it must needs me to obey.
Though you be now strong like an elephant,
And in all Venus’ works most valiant,
The day will come, and that within a few years,
That you will be at leisure with your friends.

What can you say further, but I am a failure
In Venus’ works, I grant, sir, that is true;
The time has been, I was better armed
Nor I am now, but yet full sore I rue
That ever I did mouth thankless so pursue.
Wherefore take heed and your fine powder spare,
And waste it not but well you know where.

Though you run rudely, like a restless ram,
Shooting your bolt at many sundry targets,
Belief right well, it is a biding game.
Wherefore beware of the doubling of the bells,
For many a one hastens their own soul’s knell,
And specially when that the well goes dry,
Such stuff cannot again be bought.

I give your council to the fiend of hell
That would not of any princess you provide,
Suffering you to run shooting from target to target,
Wasting your body, letting the time pass by.
For like a roaring bull you run and ride
Riotously, like a rude scoundrel,
Always fucking like a furious fornicator.

On whores you will not cease leaping,
Although the bitches cry out,
Remember how, beside the mashing vat,
You cast a wench across the stinking trough?
That fiend, with the jerking about of the back of her thigh,
Cast down the vat, resulting in the drink, dregs, and swill
Came rudely running down about your ears.

Would God the lady that loved you best
Had seen you there, wallowing like two swine!
But to indite how that slut was dressed
(Drenched with dregs, whimpering with many whines),
That to describe and report it were a pain.
On your behalf, I thank God times ten score
That you were preserved from gout and syphilis.

Now sir, farewell, because I cannot scold,
And though I could, I would not advance
Against your ornate meter to indite.
But yet be wary with the labouring of your lance:
Some say there comes a shield out of France,
Which will endure your strokes, though they be hard.
Farewell, of flowing rhetoric the flower!

Said Lindsay in his scolding
Against the King’s writing.

 

Notes:
Cor munum crea in me is from Psalm 50 and translates as “create in me a clean heart”.

This poem is full of sexual innuendo with only the very obvious innuendos translating easily. One innuendo that is probably very unclear is “mouth thankless” which is a reference to a vagina.

Some of the terms Lindsay has used to describe the women the king (James V of Scotland) was enjoying are of unclear and debated meaning, although the derogatory nature of them is clear. I have therefore used modern terms (like whores and bitches) in their stead.

A mashing vat was used in the creation of ales and beers.

At the time Lindsay was writing, gout was used as a term for a venereal disease. Syphilis was known to be a venereal disease and was considered separate to whatever disease was referred to as gout.

And, finally, as with all my attempts at putting very old English/Scots into a modern version, I have resisted the temptation to use less archaic words when the original word is still in use and have tried to retain the original syntax as much as possible even when a reordering or change of the words would improve the flow. I also resisted keeping “flyting” (and “dyting”) and used more modern equivalents even though some of the nuance was lost. I used the online Dictionaries of the Scots Language (https://dsl.ac.uk/) to confirm original word meanings.

From: https://d.lib.rochester.edu/teams/text/purdie-and-wingfield-answer-quhilk-schir-david-lindesay-maid-to-kingis-flyting

Date: c1536

By: David Lyndsay (c1490-c1555)

Saturday, 17 September 2022

Exiled from Mona by Goronwy Owen

May God in Heaven be my tower,
For outcast of man am I;
By hope forsaken and power,
Poor and in misery.
Dear Mona of my fathers,
Alas for my lonely lot,
Where once I played there gathers
A people that know me not.
Where I had friends an hundred,
Scarce one would be taking the hand
Of a noteless bard far sundered
From Mona’s lovely strand.
Her bold old tongue ne’er greets me,
Stilled is her wild sweet strain,
And when their memory meets me
My pulse is athrill with pain.
And O! I am so breast-stricken,
So heart-full of sorrow sharp,
Bright song no longer can quicken
One chord of joy on my harp.
Yet as I to Zion resemble
Our Mona, my Muse takes wings,
And my hands once more are a-tremble
Through all of its sighing strings.

From: Graves, Alfred Perceval, Welsh Poetry Old and New, in English Verse, 1912, Longmans, Green, and Co: London and New York, p. 49.
(https://archive.org/details/welshpoetryoldne00graviala/page/48/mode/2up?q=goronwy)

Date: 1754 (original in Welsh); 1912 (translation in English)

By: Goronwy Owen (1723-1769)

Translated by: Alfred Perceval Graves (1846-1931)

Wednesday, 14 September 2022

Ballad of the Country Exile by Max Jacob

The farmers call me by name on the roads
as they might tell a skylark from a thrush
but they know the names of the animals better
than mine, for my name is Dolor.

If that which I love weighs upon my wound, it pains it;
if it weigh only upon summer, it is the field that suffers.

What will feed summer and my love if not that sorrow,
since my love and summer can no longer feed on joy?

The swan disappears in the slant of branches,
and the naked muses take me in their arms;
the winged horse contains my passion
and the wild flowers spread for me.

From: Jacob, Max, “Ballad of the Country Exile” in Poetry, Volume 76 Issue 2, May 1950, p. 85.
(https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/browse?volume=76&issue=2&page=23)

Date: 1939 (original in French); 1950 (translation in English)

By: Max Jacob (1876-1944)

Translated by Harvey Shapiro (1924-2013)

Wednesday, 7 September 2022

Reconciliation by Else Lasker-Schüler

(To My Mother)

A great star will fall into my lap. . .
We would hold vigil tonight,

Praying in languages
That are carven like harps.

We would be reconciled tonight—
So fully God overwhelms us.

Our hearts are only children,
Eager for weary-sweet slumber.

And our lips would kiss each other,
Why are you fearful?

Does not your heart border upon mine—
Your blood always dyes my cheeks red.

We would be reconciled tonight,
If we clasp each other, we shall not perish.

A great star will fall into my lap.

From: https://poets.org/poem/reconciliation

Date: 1911 (original in German); 1923 (translation in English)

By: Else Lasker-Schüler (1869-1945)

Translated by: Babette Deutsch (1895-1982) and Avrahm Yarmolinsky (1890-1975)

Saturday, 27 August 2022

Waiting for ’97 and Godot by Yam Gong (Lau Yee-ching)

The torment
of a drop of water
falling into a lake
I know—
at times I am the drop of water
at times
I am the lake

The torment
of a drop of water
falling onto the parched earth
I also know
At times I am
the parched earth
At times
I am
that droplet

But what about the joy
of a drop of water
falling onto the parched earth?

What about the ecstasy
of a drop of water
falling into the lake?

Even though
at times I am the water
at times I am the earth
at times I am the rivers and lakes
at times ecstatic at times tormented at times joyful
at times
I persuade myself
that you
will arrive eventually.

From: https://www.catranslation.org/journal-post/two-poems-yam-gong/

Date: 1997 (original in Chinese); 2021 (translation in English)

By: Yam Gong (Lau Yee-ching) (1949- )

Translated by: James Shea (19??- ) and Dorothy Tse (1977- )

Friday, 26 August 2022

My Body’s Always Saying by Taghrid Abdelal

Silence is a small thing with a beak.
It might not grow after dinner.
Its mother might forget it on her tongue,
and it might not know me when it’s old.

Or maybe I will conspire with its shadows
which I select as tour guide
for adjacent bodies:

a silence that doesn’t race a hare
or live in a tortoise shell
yet one I can find at a house door
befriending a threshold.

From: https://www.asymptotejournal.com/poetry/three-poems-taghrid-abdelal/

Date: 2020 (original in Arabic); 2022 (translation in English)

By: Taghrid Abdelal (1984- )

Translated by: Fady Joudah (1971- )

Wednesday, 24 August 2022

Hurriedly, in Premature Celebration by Timur Kibirov

The roses bloom! Oh this is Paradise!
And we shall see the infant Christ!
– Andersen, ‘The Snow Queen’

1
Hurriedly, in premature celebration,
the little boy bursts again from the crowd
and says, once more: ‘But the king isn’t wearing…’

then he clams up,
as he sees
that not only the king,
but all his retinue

(the ministers, Life Guards, ladies-in-waiting,
even the two con-men tailors themselves…)

are all naked!
All of them literally
in their birthday suits!

He spins in confusion
back to the gathered crowd
and beholds only naked bodies,
the denuded
woeful flesh of humanity.

And now, confused and fearful,
he senses his own naked,
goose-fleshed, bluish,
little boy’s skin,

and sees leafless trees in the distance,
sees how the forest has been stripped,
how the fields are bare,
how the naked earth is a desert

and winter is on its way…

Now who, who will wrap us up warm,
us, who have been stripped of everything?
Who, who will protect us,
the little naked soldiers
of a naked king?

2
For our leader is bare,
and his queen is the snow queen;
darkness and impenetrable snow!
And as for standing against him:
ay, ay, ay!

Oh dear. Oh wow.
Go and lie in the snow.

Make your mind up,
silly little Kay.

Run along now,
stupid little Gerda.

There, ahead of you:
the kingdom of death.

There, behind you:
the roses are blooming.

Well, maybe they’re not…
Maybe they’ve withered…
So what?

You’ll find out soon enough.
If you can get that far.

From: https://modernpoetryintranslation.com/poem/hurriedly-in-premature-celebration/

Date: 2009 (original in Russian); 2017 (translation in English)

By: Timur Kibirov (1955- )

Translated by: James Womack (1979- )

Sunday, 17 July 2022

The Skylark by Bernart de Ventadorn

Now when I see the skylark lift
His wings for joy in dawn’s first ray
Then let himself, oblivious, drift
For all his heart is glad and gay,
Ay! such great envies seize my thought
To see the rapture that others find,
I marvel that desire does not
Consume away this heart of mine.

Alas, I thought I’d grown so wise;
In love I had so much to learn:
I can’t control this heart that flies
To her who pays love no return.
Ay! now she steals, through love’s sweet theft,
My heart, my self, my world entire;
She steals herself and I am left
Only this longing and desire.

Losing control, I’ve lost all right
To rule my life; my life’s her prize
Since first she showed me true delight
In those bright mirrors, her two eyes.
Ay! once I’d caught myself inside
Her glances, I’ve been drowned in sighs,
Dying as fair Narcissus died
In streams that mirror captive skies.

Deep in despair, I’ll place no trust
In women though I did before;
I’ve been their champion so it’s just
That I renounce them evermore;
When none will lift me from my fall
When she has cast me down in shame,
Now I distrust them, one and all,
I’ve learned too wee they’re all the same.

She acts as any woman would—
No wonder I’m dissatisfied;
She’ll never do the things she should;
She only wants all that’s denied.
Ay! now I fall in deep disgrace,
A fool upon love’s bridge am I;
No one knows how that could take place
Unless I dared to climb too high.

All mercy’s gone, all pity lost—
Though at the best I still knew none—
Since she who should yield mercy most
Shows me the least of anyone.
Wrongful it seems, now, in my view,
To see a creature love’s betrayed
Who’d seek no other good but you,
Then let him die without your aid.

Since she, my Lady, shows no care
To earn my thanks, nor pays Love’s rights
Since she’ll not hear my constant prayer
And my love yields her no delights,
I say no more; I silent go;
She gives me death; let death reply.
My Lady won’t embrace me so
I leave, exiled to pain for aye.

Tristan, you’ll hear no more from me:
I leave to wander, none knows where;
Henceforth all joys in love I’ll flee
And all my songs I Now forswear.

From: Kehew, Robert (ed.), Lark in the Morning: The verses of the Troubadours. A Bilingual Edition, 2005, The University of Chicago Press: Chicago and London, pp. 75-77.
(https://books.google.com.au/books?id=q41XiQ_OY-MC)

Date: 12th century (original in Occitan); 1998 (translation in English)

By: Bernart de Ventadorn (c1135-c1195)

Translated by: William De Witt Snodgrass (1926-2009)

Friday, 15 July 2022

In a Foreign Country by Jules Supervielle

Have these faces come from my memory
and have these gestures touched earth, or sky?
Is this man alive as he seems to believe
with his voice, and this smoke on his lips?
Chairs, tables, unfeeling wood, you I can touch
in this snowy country whose language I do not know.
Stove, with your warmth whispering to my hands,
who is this man before you who resembles me
even in my past, knowing what I think,
touching when I touch you and filling my silence,
who then rises, opens the door, and disappears,
leaving this emptiness behind where I have no place.

From: https://fortnightlyreview.co.uk/2014/11/supervielle/

Date: 192? (original in French); 2014 (translation in English)

By: Jules Supervielle (1884-1960)

Translated by: Ian Seed (19??- )

Thursday, 14 July 2022

Nyx by Catherine Marthe Louise Pozzi

For Louise also from Lyon and Italy

Oh you my nights, oh dark awaited
Oh country proud, oh secrets lasting
Oh long gazing, oh thundering clouds
Oh flight allowed beyond closed skies.

Oh great desire, oh wide surprise
Oh lovely traverse of the enchanted mind
Oh worst of worst, oh grace descended
Oh opened door none had passed through

I don’t know why I die and drown
Before I enter that eternal sojourn.
I don’t know of what I am the prey.
I don’t know of whom I am the love.

From: https://www.babelmatrix.org/works/fr/Pozzi%2C_Catherine-1882/Nyx/en/36754-Nyx

Date: 19?? (original in French); 2004 (translation in English)

By: Catherine Marthe Louise Pozzi (1882-1934)

Translated by: Mary Ann Caws (1933- )