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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Translating Poetry

The other day, my Latin professor asked us how to properly translate poetry into English. I suggested that the only way to do it was to understand Horace's poem, and then writet your own, and she agreed (though, apparently, we can't do that on the test ;) ). The conversation reminded me of a poem I wrote about/right after a Latin class where we were translating Horace in undergrad. It's not my best, (actually, I don't think it's at all that good), but it's an interesting example of this idea.  Here it is, inspired by Horace, Ode 3.13 (and no, this is not a translation, and no, the lines under the Latin are not translation of the Latin above them). (Carmina 3.13 in Latin (scroll down), and in English).

Frustra

O fons Bandusiae, splendidior vitror!
I hear sirens outside, growing louder.
Dulci digne mero!
digne, digne
The sirens -- are they worthy?
Worthy of my attention?
But they are fading now.
Unde loquaces
lymphae desiliunt tuae.
I hear them no longer.
Nam gelidos inficiet tibi
rubro sanguine rivos
lasciui suboles gregis.
Tonight, in high-def; a shooting
rubro sanguine
rubro sanguine
rubro sanguine
We sit and watch.
Frustra.
In vain.
The world continues outside.
Frustra.
In vain.
On T.V.
Rubro sanguine
in high-def.
Frusta.
Rubro sanguine.
Frustra.

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