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Rewriting exercise

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Rewriting exercise

Postby auctor » Tue May 18, 2004 1:46 pm

In an effort to get more participation in these doodads, I've refrained from calling this one a translation exercise. Why? Because whatever is offered need not be a translation of the words, more likely a fresh rendition of the 'meaning' behind the words.

So then, try this, one and all, from a 1645 poem by Edmund Waller, Of English Verse

Poets that marble seek
Must carve in Latin or in Greek.


I'm sure that pithy one-liners would be the 21st century take on this C17th wisdom... how would the ancients have conveyed it?


Paul McK
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Postby chad » Wed May 19, 2004 3:29 am

hi paul, here's a quick prose "re-writing" :)

ai( Mou=sai a)ei/dousin E(llhnisti/ te R(wmai+sti/ q' h(=min.

the muses sing to us in greek and latin.

another way might be

oi( melopoioi\ qe/lontej eu)docei=n E(llhnisti\ R(wmai+sti/ te gra/fousin.

poets wishing to be renowned write in greek and latin.

please excuse the betacode, i've lost spionic for the moment when my pc was upgraded... :)
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Postby auctor » Wed May 19, 2004 11:03 pm

I am quite sure, Chad, that you have hit the nail right on the head! Mr Waller was suggesting that any poet hoping for their work to read over and over (by being chiselled into marble, which lasts for ever) should look back to their roots.
When I first came across this couplet I thought that a short, snappy "gnomic" aorist would look good. I still do.
My next idea was to "rewrite" the words and sentiment but to replicate the poetic feeling as well. An English translation of my thoughts is...

It is necessary for any poet, who hopes to be read always, to read the old poets.*

By the time that is written out in Greek one has about 26 syllables (of course that number could vary, depending on one's actual translation, enormously!), which comes pretty damned close to being able to be made elegiac. Is it worth making the extra effort and going for gold?

*The two lines of thought in Waller's original being...
Poets that marble seek = any poet wishing to be remembered
Must carve in Latin and in Greek = even in C17 England the apparent everlasting *snob* value of the classics was accepted!!

Even while typing this I've considered...

To secure one's future, explore one's past

Interesting isn't it?

These are my maundering thoughts and I profess no expertise other than being a thoughtful reader, and writer who suffers from interminable cacoethes scribendi :roll:

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Postby chad » Wed May 19, 2004 11:28 pm

hi paul, that's interesting, i took it as writing poetry in the classical languages, not just reading them, automatically thinking of baudelaire (because i've got his "au lecteur" stuck up on my wall next to my pc): while still young he won 2nd prize in a national latin poetry competition or something like that, and from that point on he was fastidious about e.g. proper scansion of his lines (in french), and when you read his poetry you see allusions all the time to latin poets... also the first book of the satyricon, where there's that speech about poets/orators (or something similar, can't quite remember) first learning homer and the poets, then the latin poets, then the orators...

i was thinking of doing the quote in poetry but there were too many long syllables, at least in the 1st words I came up with, + so it would've sounded a bit heavy... :)

edit: sorry i left out a word, it made even less sense than normal :)
Last edited by chad on Thu May 20, 2004 1:49 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby auctor » Thu May 20, 2004 12:19 am

Oh Chad, how perceptive you are! (I sincerely hope I'm not being patronising), our E Waller is not suggesting that all poets should write "in Latin and in Greek", merely that later poets should be aware of the classical canon which has gone before them. How Sappho, Homer, Ovid and Virgil and plenty of others, (in their vernacular) used their language can be transferred into our language, and so we can, now, produce our own beautiful poetry.
I have no doubt that Baudelaire was a master of his language, and (in my very conceited way) of the classical poets.

If you have time to rewrite this couplet in a Greek metre I'd be interested to see your version. There is no time limit on this little exercise - better versifiers than me have been dead and gorn for a while now!

P
ha ha just reread this thread and realised my mistake, sorry for any confusion
Last edited by auctor on Thu May 20, 2004 10:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby chad » Thu May 20, 2004 12:38 am

hi paul, u want to be patronising?!? ok i just put together a little iambic tri, sticking with my original take on your quote

gra/fousi (Rwmai+sti/ q' (Ellhnisti/ te
qe/lontej eu)docei=n te kai\ timh\n e)/xein


they write in latin and greek (who) want to be renowned and to have glory

sorry i think i was getting the aspirates in the betacode wrong before capitals...
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Postby auctor » Thu May 20, 2004 9:24 am

No, Chad, I don't want to be patronising - but in this case I'll have to be :D . Excellent.
Those two adverbs turned out to be quite serendipitous

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