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Many of these had not been viewed in decades. I hope this will be an auspicious start to a new thread.
I promise, it is very, very far from Hrosvitha and Hildegard.
Sam, surely the best way to encourage a youngster to read a book is, in his or her presence, to throw it violently across the room and declaim loudly, "This book is total crap. I forbid you to read it!"
As for Laura Warholic, I knew better than to crack the covers of that one. Such trite nonsense. Henri Etta has a lot of explaining to do. Thus far she seems to be hanging out in the kitchen closet looking for recipes and muttering under her breath. As for Brent, no one knows what has happened to him. Perhaps Henri Etta cooked him up in a holiday-that-must-not-be named mince meat pie.
The problem with the trite nonsense book across the room is that I can't pull it off for Moby Dick or Dusty, two I'd like to push her way. Maybe I can try some Tolstoy....
You know my difficulty with Moby Dick. I decided to pull it off the shelf and give it a go again. The bookmark was in place where I last stopped, but I started at the beginning. The first chapter has been strangely engaging--does it get worse? I cannot remember. I know most 17 year olds don't really care what 50 somethings think, but maybe my story could help!
The last discussion we had on Moby Dick she admitted to a bit of fear of it, as she had a teacher in 5th grade suggest she read it, and even opening it at that point was daunting. She will discover it at some point, but I won't be the one who will prompt her. I may be starting to get traction on the russians. Xmas break, High school junior year, really is about right for the first introduction, no?
Christmas haul = nine volume set of stories and tales
Funny. Those look green on this screen. They're not!
Those are volumes of the Clay Sanskrit Library - between this haul, the full Ramayana my son got for his last birthday, and random Mahabharata purchases, we now have almost 20 of the just over 50 available volumes. They look so good, it's almost a shame that a year from now they'll be showing the tattering effects of some good reading.
Yesterday, we looked at a house originally designed by Henry Adams; from the timing I'm guessing a place to live while he courted his soon to be wife before whisking her off to the more cosmpolitan cities. I don't know much of the history of it at all, but it's kind of cool, about 20% more than we planned on spending (at the most), and really tempting, because the idea that I'd be lifting books off shelves and poking logs in a library designed by Adams is just way cool. And his wife is rumored to be the original model for Daisy Miller, so, who knows, we just might get haunted by the same ghosts, perhaps down in that odd wing with the kitchen and the cramped little spare bedrooms.
Then, of course, there's the fact that it looks like a money-pit...
A Chinese would not live there either. Remember HA's wife committed suicide, not in that house, but if he lived there when he was courting her, it might be cursed.
On the other hand, how awesome to live in a house designed by Henry Adams! get it!
I don't think we're going to buy it, just because of the cost factor, especially after adding in all the work needed on the house and grounds. But it's a really interesting place.
Clover, Adam's wife, was pretty interesting, and so was her mother, who was a transcendentalist poet.
Called EMPIRE if memory serves.
When you are settled I will send you a goat. I do not know when that will be. An outbreak of respiratory infections that seemed to be conquered after three rounds of antibiotics has again hit goats of our friends D. and P. whose farm our goats visit for vacation and small talk with the bucks. And far, far worse, P. has just been diagnosed with breast cancer. She will be having a double mastectomy on Jan. 18th. D. is beside himself and she is too upset and private to talk with friends about it. They will be coming to Knoxville, our equivalent of a big city next door neighbor, for her surgery and treatment. Apparently, doctors in their part of Tennessee are still practicing medieval medicine. Sigh. It has not been a good six months for beloved people or goats.
So for this year, we must find another goat breeder ... more difficult than one might think. We are picky about other people's goat management. And the people who are picky about their own goat management usually keep closed herds and will not allow unknown goats (even those with sterling health credentials) on their farms.
I am sorry to hear about P, so awful. There is some comfort, though, in having goats to come home to. Helps the fight and the recovery.
This weekend, we get the new 70,000 square foot building being added to the Gardner Museum: http://www.buildingproject.gardnermuseum.org/design/new-building
Just a couple months ago, we got a half billion dollar, 135,000 square foot "Arts of the Americas" wing added to the Museum of Fine Arts: http://www.mfa.org/americas-wing/ That freed up space so all the other galleries could expand and rennovate, too. Later this month, I get to go to a fancy dinner in some of the museum that's been getting rennovated and about to reopen, and that will be fun!
Next year, the Harvard Art Museums will open their new construction, which adds a wing to the Fogg and connects 3 of the Harvard Art Museums through a structure built across their roofs:http://www.harvardartmuseums.org/about/renovation/index.dot?l=l1 Both this and the Gardner are Renzo Piano designs.
We got a brand new 65,000 square foot building for the Institute of Contemporary Arts just 5 years ago: http://www.icaboston.org/about/thenewica/design-announcement/
And it was less than ten years ago that we got the new 250,000 square foot Peabody Essex Museum in Salem: http://www.pem.org/about/mission_vision
This doesn't even touch on some of the smaller museums around the area, including the college museums, but it's pretty incredible. I was just realizing as making plans to hit the Gardner how much we've gotten. A whole lot of stuff that has been in Museum basements around here is coming out, and it's really pretty cool.
So who is going to come visit?
Just kidding, those museums do look fabulous, and I will seriously consider making a weekend trip to Boston. (When does it warm up around there?)
Rick, you are a true connysure of the greater lesser things in life, but the no name is almost in the shadow of that new contemporary art museum, so you'd not be permitted to avoid arkytectschur.
By the by, has anyone seen Henri_Etta. Methinks she may have been raptured up to the the heavens. This morning as I was going to the barn to milk the goats, I thought I heard her her flute-like tenor falling like the gentle rain rain from heaven. I got wet. I hope it was rain and not spittle.
I suspect He has not raptured.
He will appear here eventually. Wait for Him.
Lisa, it would have to be very early in May as May starts running into graduations when Boston gets crazy to visit. Are we thinking 2013 or 2012?
So let's see what others think, and right now we'll think of those periods in 2013 as good possibilities.
Is it a planet? maybe plutonian. But then I 've asked the same about Earth for some years now. THIS is a planet? Why is there human life on it? What kind of a planet...
Yesterday, we discovered my 11 year old had a copy of the book in his backpack, and had started reading it in his free time at school.
(Am I getting myself in trouble here?)
Ski trip in Austria sounds good.
I think CG is right--a cry for attention.
When I realized the story of Queequeg's Ramadan was based on part of the story of the Snake Sacrifice in the Mahabharata, he and I had a long conversation about it, since I had read the Snake Sacrifice out loud to him. I read him parts of the M.D. chapter and he found the way Melville did it uproriously funny. Since then he's been the family member most willing to listen when I get excited about something in the book. So he would like to have the attention and share it with me, but I don't think it's a desperate plea, just a plain old normal desire for, attention.
He just finished reading War of the Worlds with one of his best friends, and he and I are suspending the Bharata a little so I can read him Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn.
however, just this morning i got a mail from mama telling me she and papa met a guy from Klagenfurt (Slovene Celovec, only it ain't in Slovenee) who winters in Las Vegas and summers in Austria and has a lodge in the Alps. She figures he'll visit us and we may get an invitation to the lodge.
From here on the coast, by highway it's probably just under two hours to southern Austria.
It may be that we go back to a different translation of 3 Kingdoms. We're looking at a whole range of possible books, but nothing is quite catching on.
But I want to read The Kalevala; never have.
OK, looked, and it looks like it is not in verse, even though the prose retains some of the rhythms.
Hmmm. We may need to spend some time looking at different copies.
If anyone can do all three, they really should get an official Salon hairshirt.
And I might already have said this, but it seems serendipitous to me that we MD and the Alter going at the same time.
Sing to me of the man, Muse, the man of twists and turns
driven time and again off course, once he had plundered
the hallowed heights of Troy.
Many cities of men he saw and learned their minds,
many pains he suffered, heartsick on the open sea,
fighting to save his life and bring his comrades home.
But he could not save them from disaster, hard as he strove--
the recklessness of their own ways destroyed them all,
the blind fools, they devoured the cattle of the Sun
and the Sungod blotted out the day of their return.
Launch out on his story, Muse, daughter of Zeus,
start from where you will--sing for our time too.
Sing in me, Muse, and through me tell the story
of that man, skilled in all ways of contending,
the wanderer, harried for years on end,
after he plundered the stronghold
on the proud height of Troy.
He saw the townlands
and learned the minds of many distant men
and weathered many bitter nights and days
in his deep heart at sea, while he fought only
to save his life, to bring his shipmates home.
But not by will nor valor could he save them,
for their own recklessness destroyed them all--
children and fools, they killed and feasted on
the cattle of Lord Hêlios, the Sun,
and he who moves all day through heaven
took from their eyes the dawn of their return.
Of these adventures, Muse, daughter of Zeus,
tell us in our time, lift the great song again.
Fagles seems so modern and not so lyrical.
And I think you should pull out a long sleeved hairshirt--it is winter!
I used to have a book that included the key passages from both epics translated by all the main translators into English: Chapman, Murray, TE Lawrence, Fitzgerald, Pound (oh if only he had done the whole thing) , but I leant it to someone and never got it back: grrrrrr. It was wonderful to compare.
And Murr, if you want that hairshirt, all you need to do is 3 tomes this month. That's it! Gorminghast, Alter, and the Dick.
"Muse, daughter of Zeus"...
I am afraid I really need the invocation of the Muse to open my Odyssey. Anything else just seems so wrong!
Still looking forward to tackling Ezra later in the year.
Watch out, Rick. Homer might put you in a sheepskin.
As a colleague likes to say "each generation has its translation..." Incidentally there are 2 new translations of the Iliad (Verity & Mitchell)
I like the Murray in that you get the most literal translation from the greek -
And this may be of interest:
And if you want to see how oppressive 'choice' can be:
Great Links, Peter! I really do need to start looking around for some of the old Homers, the Popes and Chapmans and the like. I mean, how interesting to see how the translations have worked across the years, in the hands of such greats?
CG, do you like the little knotted cords or the leather strips with spikes on the end?
Thanks for checking.
101> I remember some remark about the Pope being "it is beautiful, but it is not Homer" or something to that effect. Find versions of Pope's Iliad and Odyssey illustrated by Robert Flaxman, an added treat.
It may be that she's ready for the book.
I've not censored their reading, though have encouraged and discouraged many books.
That poor blog seems so lonely, with no positng planned any more. Ah, well.
Last night, I started The Columbia History of Chinese Literature and am reading a bit about how the exam system came into being during the centuries just before the Tang and the impact of having essentially a writing exam become the key to entering the bureaucracy. Fascinating stuff. But I'm also only just beginning to see how many diverse genres of literary writing there are in Tang times, and beginning to swim a bit in all of it.
Just buy Kindles for all your children. Register them to the same address and you can share the contents with everyone in your household.
Wrapping up Pen of Iron, which I've been reading off and on over the last month. Great stuff. Really compliments that discussion on what might be American about Moby Dick we were having, but extends it to Faulkner, Bellow, Hemingway, etc. Great ear. Somehow, Pinksky's translation of the Inferno put itself in front of other books waiting to be read on my shelves and I've been dipping into that, too.
Besides, Pinsky is a local. Maybe when the new kindle comes I'll download Hollander.
I'm thinking of tuning in tomorrow night for the Dalai Lama teaching from the Jakata Tales: http://dalailama.com/liveweb It's too bad he doesn't say what tales, so I can read them in advance.
edit: seems to be March 8th not tomorrow, fyi.
In the most recent Robotics contest, my daughter's team made it into the semi-finals before the Exeter team pulled out their Romneybot and bought all the referees off.
Yip does a direct transliteration of the individual Chinese characters, discusses the very loose grammatical syntax of the classical Chinese, and focuses in on how different translators render the Chinese as they import it into the heavily structured grammar of the English language. He spends a lot of time talking about the interaction of language and world-views or philosophy, all of which is fascinating.
I do wish he spent more time on the sounds of the poetry; while he gives both characters and transliterations, he doesn't give Wade-Giles or Pinyin, so we don't get the sound of the Chinese (unless you actually read Classical Chinese, of course!). But there is already a ton of very interesting stuff to digest. This one is going to sit by the bedside for a long time.
So, a new play by America's Greatest Playwright, after all these years. I wish I had an excuse to be in NYC.
you are right about the lack of any discussion about the phonic elements in Chinese poetry. I had a friend explain them all to me and took notes in the end pages of the book, so I could refer to them as I was reading. Why don't you take the book to your Chinese teacher and do the same? It's ferociously complicated.
Can't wait to read the new TW play.
I am finding reading books like Yip's immensely helpful, though, in learning Chinese. See the characters in action and in context, even with a low hit-rate in my rapid naming, really helps my character recognition. I am also reading a volume of Laozi that has both Modern Standard Mandarin and Literary Sinitic characters on one page and the English translation on the facing page; while I focus the MSM, it's still very interesting to occassionally contemplate the Literary Sinitic.
Last weekend, we worked on English to Chinese Character translations of simple sentences. I managed to inspire much laughter.
Oh, and Laozi can be a bit of an ass.
I've missed your postings -- hope everything is OK.
We do need to start summer stock, but I think few are around. Any interest still? It is summer now, here in the north!
CCC is a favorite of law school classes that want to inject some literature. Nothing like a judge who got their job through family connections.
On Vikram Seth, he has a little book of Three Chinese Poets that specifically focused on the Tang ultra-greats (Du Fu, Li Po, and Wang Wei). Great book.
By the way, lost is the word for where I am now. Just swimming in the Ocean. But I'm finding I'm also fascinated, by turns, in the impact on other poets across time and language and culture. It's really hard to understand what happened in English poetry in the last century without looking at how poets tried to access this stuff.
Du Fu's laments from the South, a detailed commentary and new translations of a selection of Du Fu. The introduction looks very interesting.
Also, check out David Hinton's translations, if I haven't already mentioned them. I think they are excellent.
I've got a number of collections with Hinton's work - he seems spiritually/philosophically driven in his work, but I haven't focused at one time on a whole bunch of his translations, the way I have with Rexroth and Snyder, for example. New Directions publishing really rocks. I probably should gather some of Hinton's stuff up.
I will be off to Madrid for a week later this month (with a day in Toledo); a certain amount of my time will be spent on business, but should have at least a couple days away from it and my wife is coming with me. Anyone have any thoughts on out of the way things we should see/do?
Eat tapas in the covered market of San Miguel. ( Avoid the oysters ),
One of the interesting tidbits: Ottoman lyric poetry is generally addressed to the beloved using a gender- neutral pronoun; it was usually taboo to publicly discuss trysts involving women, and considered to be highly offensive to the woman involved, but not so much to discuss love affairs whose object was young men, so the pronoun in its original was generally understood to be addressed to a young man. The pronoun is generally translated (including in this volume) in the feminine.
195, you couldn't post a couple of excerpts, could you? I'm intrigued!
TCM, I'll have to pull out the book at home and see what I can post. One thing you should realize is these guys swung the rudder pretty hard to port, translating the poetry with a heavy dose of free verse. The most significant prior translator, HAR Gibbs, more than a century ago, went for heavily structured stuff full of repeated hard rhymes, and most translators have inevitably been heavily influenced by Gibbs translations (Gibbs' work is something a lover of Clarel might embrace). In part, they're trying to kick up interest and a fight, and being intentionally provacative.
Here's a selection from Nef'i, a 17th century poet:
That black drunken eye has become a tavern of coquettishness
In every troublemaking corner, you'll find a drunk is sleeping
Her glance drinks angrily from the cup of sweet provacation
So what if every drunken look turns the world upside down!
If the tassel on the turban of the drunk doesn't sweep the threshold of the tavern
Then he doesn't give lustre to the party of Jemshid
So what if Nef'i prays to the beloved while drunk?
The sins of drunkards are forgiven by the most generous of the wise
Like the hero Rostam, my beloved's glance has taken scimitar in hand
And her black lashes are drunken soldiers, ready to war against me.
If you go to the book in Amazon and use the "search inside" feature to search for a "Note on Gender" you get the beginning of the discussion on gender and Turkish poetry. Unfortunately, it gets cut off, and they continue to make some interesting points. Where women are depicted as lovers (e.g., where Kohl blackens their eyes - then you know it is a woman!), they are almost always lower class women. The story of Majnun and Lelya aside (and there is some extended discussion of that story and its various poetic references and depictions), it's pretty rare to find social equals in Ottoman love poetry period, but where women are involved it seems always to be a clear class divide (where when men are involved, it is often an age divide rather than a class divide).
yeah, thats what I thought. the imagery of the poem sits very uneasily with the gender of the pronoun. Interesting though.
--Gao Shih (Tang Era): Night Poem at Year End
Sleepless guest, cold hotel
A traveler's soul bittered by business
Ancient land, modern night, distant thought
Our day frosts, its temples gray and glisten,
Another year slips.
But, thanks for the encouragement. I'm going to keep trying these, it is a good way for me to learn.
When the bird of sleep
thought to nest
in my eye
it saw the eyelashes
and flew away
for fear of nets
I say to my chains,
don't you understand?
I have surrendered to you.
Why, then, have you no pity,
You drank my blood.
You ate my flesh.
Don't crush my bones.
My son sees me
fettered by you and turns away
his heart made sore.
This is a fascinating collection.
There is a definite feel of 1920s European poetics hanging about the book, clearly some residues left along the way as it went through multiple languages and periods. Of course, there is no way for me to really pull out what comes from the original, what from the first translator, and what from the second, but it's fun to speculate.
I'm also reading the Poetry of Petrarch suggested in the other thread and Petrarch: a Critical Guide to the Complete Works. With all this poetry in translation, I'm going to need some good originally English poetry soon - maybe those Shakespeare narratives Jane was talking about.
Your andalusian/arabic poem is great, and interesting connection with Lorca, too.
But it is fascinating to think of all these different layers and of the history of this book and its translations...
It works because it is good poetry in the English and seemed to have a life of its own in the Spanish. I would love to go through it with someone who spoke all three languages, or find an English language translation direct from the Arabic. I actually know a person with all three languages, and may make a gift of this book to them when I'm done!
You've got all three languages!! I may need to send you this book. It doesn't have the spanish or arab language renditions, but you would love this.
ETA Argh I just had to fix about 3 typos. Cannot type today.
I will give you my address, but I think we should first have a sure thing going before you take the trouble. I don't know what happened to the Dickens read (I dropped out on the second day due to a sudden influx of work and mostly, I think, because I was trying to read it on the computer screen).
Sončno nabrežje 6
By the way, for those who think I am running a scam here, I am quite happy to post my financial situation, for it is as instructive as Choco's wildfires, and as threatening. Slovenia was the golden girlboy of the 'new' countries of ex-Yugoslavia, but as was said back in '98 or so by anoymous, 'With independence we thought we would be like Switzerland, now we're more like Albania.' Now that the country has joined the EU, Schengen, and NATO, it has ripened into something more like Moldova. And the politicians are still doing Angela's bidding, ramming austerity measures through. Last election, the centrist capitalist got the most votes, but couldn't form a coalition and so the fascist got in. The CC is corrupt enough, fabulously rich, lots of Cyprus-registered businesses and all. The fascist is just a nasty bastard who seems to be in it for the fun of causing pain. That, and the wealthier, non-Scandinavian, countries of Europe have done some feasting on Slovenia, picking up prime real estate, banks, and so on. Protests in Maribor this week brought down that city's mayor, and protests in Ljubljana have been big but not newsworthy in centers of power like France and England (one article). I don't know if Germany is watching. Cuts in education did me in--bigger classes, fewer teachers, less English. So I am unemployed (yet still publishing!), technically, though I have lately been getting editing work that may average 500€ a month. My wife has been working for approximately 600€ a month, but at a temporary position that ends in March. We have been lucky because we found a great apartment that the owners are not trying to squeeze into molten gold--after expenses it comes to 550 to 600. Meanwhile, unemployment is on the rise, and rents are rising, and so more and more folk are getting worse off, definitely worse than us, but the government has made inroads into the safety net. Medical care is still excellent and virtually free--if you have a job; but if you don't and go to the 'welfare' department medical is pretty much where it stops, and I have heard they are kicking people off (and I was kicked off for missing one appointment with a woman who talks to me every three months, a rote conversation that offers nothing). (I appealed the decision, yet the answer has not come, and since getting kicked off is a six month penalty, I should be back on before I get an answer.)
Walking your dog without a leash brings a 200€ penalty.
live from paradise,
Can I ask why you stay in Slovenia? Wouldn't it be better in India?
RE. Mishima, thanks for the hint, but I can't commit to this now. I'd love to study Mishima in more detail with Buddhism, but I must hold off on that till another time.
If you guys go ahead, I"ll be following with interest, but I won't read the book this time round.
I was just starting to get into Dickens when first work and then the holidays hit - I've basically had to stop twice for over a week, which just makes it hard to keep going. With the new year, though, the distractions aren't as bad.
Unfortunately, I've seen more than a little of what austerity and the crisis has done to much of Southern Europe, from much beloved Greece to Spain and Portugul. I think we are extraordinarily lucky in my little corner of the world, particularly because the evil likes of Ms. Merkel cast little shadow here.
Rick, with one miss-hit on the keyboard the auto speller on this iPad suggested 'anarchy' when I tried to write your surname....!
So, here's my attempt:
Vacant mountain, no visible person,
Yet voices resound, echoes of man.
Brightness reflects into darkest woods,
Fractured light illumes climbing moss.
This is the Chinese:
I love the visual of the Chinese - the character for "man" is 人 (ren), and it shows up on the 1st line, 5th character, and then as the third character of the second line. Right underneath it, in the third character of the third line, is the character that means to enter or join (I've translated it "into" here), which is simply the ren character with a little line at the top. But I think just looking at you you know it's about men (and, it turns out, light) entering the deer park. I also love the way the middle character splits each line, the two halves balancing on it.
There is one "light" word in the whole thing, the "yet", that serves as a fulcrum between the first line and the rest of the poem. I think paring out pronouns, articles, anything you can adds to the weight, which I think is part of the effect sought in the Chinese (admitting my Chinese isn't good enough yet to really get it clearly!).
Here are several other translations:
No one seen. Among empty mountains,
hints of driftng voice, faint, no more.
Entering these deep woods, late sunlight
flares on green moss again, and rises.
Deep in the mountain wilderness
Where nobody ever comes
Only once in a great while
Something like the sound of a far off voice,
The low rays of the sun
Slip through the dark forest,
And gleam again on the shadowy moss.
Empty mountain: no man is seen,
But voices of men are heard.
Sun's reflection reaches into the woods
And shines upon the green moss.
no one to be seen.
Yet - hear -
human sounds and echoes.
enters the dark woods;
on the green moss, above.
One thing I wonder is what he'll say on the moss. I kind of like Hinton's light flaring on the moss and rising, imagining the sort of bright beams you catch sometimes out in the woods almost floating in the air. I had the most climb, others make the moss "above" or just ignore the final sort of primeval rising character.
But this stuff is fun. I enjoyed doing it, and am learning a lot by playing around with these.
Hence Snyder's 'above', (and I guess, your 'climbing'?)
great post, though. nice to see so many versions all together.
I was also reading some of the review's of Yip's Chinese Poetry on line, and this statement came up: "he fails to realise that the filling in of prepositions and other syntactic helpers is the result not of misunderstanding Chinese, but of understanding English. English translations need these words because that is the way that the English language expresses relationships; where they are omitted, we have good Chinese but bad English. Word for word translations such as Yip's are "half translations": helpful cribs for reading the original, but nothing more. Yip's failure to appreciate this shows the dangers of attempting to translate into, rather than from, a foreign language." Such total rubbish. I think he is fighting a cultural instead of linguistic battle. It is not that our language "needs" these words, it's just that many readers are attached to the precision and certitude the little words yield. I think there's a discomforture with ambiguity, while the Tang poems I've been reading at least seem to embrace it.
So the reviewer is correct, but has the wrong end of the stick. Yip's translations make a virtue of the absence of precision: that's the point. your translations do too. You have got the point very well.
might I suggest 'woods', not 'wood' in line 3: the plural is a more general, ambiguous signifier than 'wood', and I think you mean wood as forest not wood as substance, right?
I love the way you get 5 words per line like the Chinese.
Keep going, I think.
that should be fun having a Taiwanese girl to stay. Chinese NEw YEAr is the 8th Feb. What's your plan to hep her celebrate it? she will no doubt feel terribly homesick that day.
more thoughts on translation for your interest:
So I keep thinking on the character Shang, which seems to be a good illustration of the problem. I've played around looking for other uses of the charachter (Shanghai!) and its etymology, and I get a sense that besides its regular meaning, it is a word often used in settings with a wide range of other connotations - including connotations of rank, as in a person being "above" another, and philosophical connotations. Perhaps a bit like an English poet using "above" when he wants a word that alludes to heaven. It makes me think this poem should end with a vague, illusive word, rather than"moss". Snyder does this with "above", but maybe we could take it a step farther -- "Fractured light illumes lichen - Divine!" It may be too heavy-handed, and Snyder's more subtle "above" may capture it better (Rexroth's "shadowy" is pretty cool, too). This is where I wish my chinese were both better and more focused on literary sinitic. So maybe we should discuss this again in a few years?
On "woods", I have played with and without the "s". The s sounds seem pretty heavy already in that line. I am using it in the sense of forest, as in Frost's "Two roads diverged in a yellow wood", but it does have an archaic feel - good or bad? Does that add weight to the word (as I hope the odd word "illumes" does) or just sound clumsy?
Also, a side benefit of trying to get to five words in English is that it lends itself easily to a di-syllabic meter - working with words of one to three syllables, it's almost inevitable.
By the way, the more I think on the poem, the more I like Snyder's as a translation. It doesn't have the same compactness as the original, but it really gets something in the poem. It communicates those elusive qualities well.
And, she brought tea!
yes, I agree completely. How do you translate from a language that prizes ambiguity to one that doesn't, in their very syntax and lexis?
re wood, in Frosts line, 'wood' is qualified by the article 'a'. If you wanna have the sense of the forest, not of the substance, you need to add an article somewhere, or add 's'. the grammar rule here is unavoidable. At the moment you are using zero article, which means wood is uncountable, which means it means 'substance' not 'forest'. In fact, the whole issue of ambiguity versus disambiguity is encapsulated in this one word!
I hope you enjoy your visitor.
I think the problem with translating, especially poetry, is associations, not ambiguity. There are very few words, in any language I think, with only one meaning. And even if there is only one meaning, a word is not alone in a sentence. It carries memories and associations from other sentences, sometimes also other words. The older and more common a word is, the more associations it will carry. And that is what gets lost in translation. When reading a word in a sentence, native speakers will know immediately, in almost all cases, the exact meaning of the word in this sentence, because they will have already encountered this same word in similar contexts many times. But they will also have, somewhere in the back of their minds, other possible meanings of this word, other contexts where it might be used, and that will taint the meaning slightly. For a non-native speaker, the exact meaning is harder to pinpoint, and the associations are lost.
But the ambiguity is on the foreigner's side, not in the original text.
ETA: by "American obsession", what I mean is "the American obsession to get rid of ambiguity in language".
My chinese class Sunday focused on many of the uses of Shang and Xia, among other things (Xia is the opposite of Shang, the below to Shang's above).
Flo, I find the conceptual difference between "associations" and "ambiguity" very helpful; though I think with the Tang poetry both are very difficult. The poems cultivate a degree of ambiguity, in part through their very leanness and careful avoidance of refining words (like pronouns - we just never know who is speaking or being referred to - making the poems sort of universal, a sort of god-speak). But then there are also association issues, which is much of what I was struggling with with climbing/above/divine as a translation for Shang. And I think the American obsession with precision is countered by a contrarianism among some - the Ezra Pounds and Gary Snyders attracted to this stuff tend to be very contrarian. But I do think you're on to something there.
It is fun to see our city through a young visitor's eyes. We took her to the Museum of Fine Arts and she was jumping up and down excited to see the Monets there. Those paintings we have seen so many times that we usually just walk by; they are very familiar. But, you know, they're also pretty great, and it was good to spend some time there. She and my daughter are doing this thing where my daughter speaks Chinese to her and she speaks English back. I have trouble following them!
After Drinking Wine
I built my hut beside a traveled road
Yet hear no noise of passing carts and horses.
You would like to know how it is done?
With the mind detached, one's place becomes remote.
Picking chrysanthemums by the eastern hedge
I catch sight of the distant southern hills;
The mountain air is lovely as the sun sets
And flocks of flying birds return together.
In these things is a fundamental truth
I would like to tell but lack the words.
Notes on Prosody came at the end of the week. Swimming. Swimmingly.
One of the most interesting points is in his afterwards to the second edition, which is on the character "Shang" we discussed above. Apparently, the character had a meaning in the Tang times, now obsolete, of "rising"; that is, it had an element of motion as well as relative place ("above").
"Whereas in the English language people use a horizontal axis on which to position the various temporal events (employing words like ‘before’ and ‘after’), the speakers of Chinese (i.e. speakers of the Mandarin language) predominantly use a vertical axis on which temporal events are positioned (employing words that are the Mandarin equivalents of ‘above’ and ‘below’)."
So it seems like, most 上s may not be "before," but most befores may in fact be 上s? Japanese uses 上 ue usually to mean 'above, top', and 前 mae to mean 'before' both temporally and spatially--but unlike English, where spatial 'before' is now somewhat archaic ("Kneel before me!"), in Japanese it's still the normal term.
i would beware of hard and fast categories such as horizontal and vertical. These category distinctions are very clear in English, but I have strong reason to believe that they are not so clear in Chinese.
indeed, the very notion of 'category distinction' may not exist in Chinese. Remember, in Chinese everything is permeated with cha bu duo.
Murr, my impression so far is that the culture is rich with categories (four classic novels, five classics), even if they are all cha bu duo (e.g., makes little difference, close enough).
We say goodbye tomorrow to our exchange student. Almost two weaks of chattering with her much of the day means my daughter, who was already ahead of me in learning the language, is now blowing me away. And our exchange student's english has gotten noticably better.
Martini criticizing a translation of it might help!
Also, I just found a miniature of two Turkish wrestlers that I got in the bazaar in Istanbul and put away for safekeeping and forgot where it was and thought it was lost for all time but now it's goin' on ma wall as an expression of my philosophy. It's not as pretty as that one.
Anna, that is one of my all-time favorite Martin reviews. So great in so many ways. That and his Clarel one. Well, and maybe a couple dozen others.
I just made the mistake of running through a list of the books cited in Bloom's Western Canon on Best Lists. I've been reading that fucking canon for 30 years and the computer tells me I'm only about 24% through it. It's amazing to see how many absolutely epic, indispensible works of literature I've just never gotten around to.
And I've only just begun on the Chinese stuff. I'm not going to try a list of that canon.
I'm never going to finish, am I?
Thanks for words, pals! I will try to scan that thing.
The thing is, to canonize that much stuff, you have to have read all the stuff that doesn't quite make it as well as the stuff that does. I mean, he had to figure out somehow that The Octopus and Edgar Allan Poe were more "canonical" than 1000 other writers of their period, right? Can you imagine reading everything in the 19th century not quite as good as those?
We may need to give him a comprehension test sometime. Maybe open each book 5 pages in, half way through, and a few pages from the end, and ask a basic memorable point, just to find out where he stops reading.
He does list Clarel, too. Which is the nicest thing I can say about him.
I am afraid not, we have not been properly introduced
Read while strolling through the Angkor ruins
Rick, Martin, thanks for the thoughts. Nothing has quite grabbed me yet, but something will, and I may keep poking at Martin's list. Tropic would feel like cheating to me, too American. Sometimes I'm tempted just to never stop reading Charles Lamb when in England. Maybe it's time for one of his favorites, The Compleat Angler.
Malraux's experiences in Indochina led him to become highly critical of the French colonial authorities there. In 1925, he helped to organize the Young Annam League and founded a newspaper L'Indochine.9
On his return to France, Malraux published The Temptation of the West (1926). The work was in the form of an exchange of letters between a Westerner and an Asian, comparing aspects of the two cultures. This was followed by his first novel The Conquerors (1928), and then by The Royal Way (1930) which reflected some of his Cambodian experiences.10 In 1933 Malraux published Man's Fate (La Condition Humaine), a novel about the 1927 failed Communist rebellion in Shanghai. The work was awarded the 1933 Prix Goncourt.11
If I was in England I'd have to read a lot of Charles Lamb too. I'm always planning to get around to more Lamb. And Robert Lynd.
By the way, also planning a trip to Frankfurt area in September.
Reading Menocal on Pound on Dante. Writing in Dante's Cult of Truth.
Or is this a comment on Dante? Bene detti!
Still, Benedetti has no goals, real or imagined, on Rask.
I'm also reading William Dalrymple's The Return of a King, on British foibles in Afghanistan in the 1830s. I am deeply jealous of Dalrymple's library.
The possibilities here are deep, as I really haven't even read that deeply in the country's classics. One I am considering is the work of the good Mr. Hoffmann, whom I have not read. However, I'll be in the Rhine valley, and it may be good to sample something from someone more Rhenish.
How's your daughter settling in?
Castles and hysteria are my life.
(Sam, I'm glad you expanded on your initial thought, I mean given your castleric hysterics...)
Also, I'm really really enjoying reading/writing about Johann Gottfried Herder at the moment, though I dunno that he's preferable to having actual fun reading fiction.
Sorry to bring this to your page, but i have few scruples...
The BEST idea is to go for US distribution, dissemination of the already pubished in English Arjun and the Good Snake:
This from an award-winning poet just arrived:
As I am almost half-way through Arjun and the Good Snake--this cross-cultural riot, this mob of words overwhelming timid grammarians armed with nerf-shillelaghs--and having reached a lush thicket of snake-stats and imprecations against Perfidious Albion--the last twenty pages read in the Endoscopy Suite Waiting Lounge--it is time to say how much I'm loving this book, stranger and deeper with every digression, coinage, and brigandage against right reason.
If this was a refošk tasting, I would note smoky phantoms of Italo Svevo and Lawrence Sterne, a redolence of Twain, and the obsessional nose of Melville.
There is real grimness here, but the vision underlying it all is humane (yet no fake uplift, no Botoxed realities) & the children keep stealing the show!
Can a kickstart be aimed to take this book to the people?
If so, how start, what strategy...will one of your favorite composers turn it into an opera?
Kickstarters are experiments by nature - one of those things where all one can do is try it and see if it works. Some of them fail.
On a different topic, I picked up and started reading Nabakov's Eugene Onegin, the four volume set of which the poem itself is half of one volume. Still, riveting, facscinating, so very differently translated than in other's hands....
Sam, have you seen this? Forgive me if you have already:
My father was an imperfect man. For many years, he smoked too much, and for many more, he drank too much. He could hold a grudge: there were multiple family members he didn’t talk to for years. And I probably shouldn’t touch on the topic of women: he married twice; he divorced twice. When I went to visit him two years ago after a heart attack, he’d charmed a couple of nurses into calling him “General”, flirting himself into an instant and impressive promotion. Hope sprang eternal for him. But my father was not a saint.
As we gather together to say our goodbyes - for now – is it time to forget his imperfections, to ask that they be forgiven, and to ask for mercy on his soul? So what can I say to commend an imperfect man to God?
As you walk the grounds outside, look at the trees. He planted many of them, especially trees with bloom, to brighten the churchyard. Raised on grey city streets, crowded and colorless, Dad loved the green of the valley, the blue of the Hudson, and the full palette of flowers. With his faith in God, he felt death should be celebrated rather than mourned.
You’ll find crocuses come up in the oddest places here. They are vestiges of a mad, obsessive autumn, when thousands were planted all around, in hopes of a riotous colorful mob in spring. We got the whole congregation out digging, digging, putting them everywhere, two Sundays in a row. Unfortunately, come spring, the sexton couldn’t suffer the grass its early ragged growth, and he trimmed the lawns neatly short, meticulously edging them, too, just as the crocuses bloomed. Only a few survived, hidden in odd corners. But they held on, and a few multiplied. Come spring, Dad’s trees and his hidden crocuses will bloom. And in that spring bloom, while he may be gone to us, his body will be here, back among his old plantings.
Dad’s favorite line in the burial service, one I heard him sermonize on many times, was “ashes to ashes, dust to dust.” It was a reminder that we people are of the earth, and that this body of ours must return to it. But not the soul. Not the soul. Dad had a hunger and passion for learning and thinking that was at the core of his soul. Dinner filled we kids more with Kant and Kierkegaard than meat and potatoes. And he would talk Kant’s universal imperative with everyone – a waitress at lunch, the auto repair worker, the poor delivery person trying to make the rest of their rounds. There was always a book to read, a debate to be had, and a question to ask. And he had an urgency about it, for part of his imperfection was that hole in the middle of his soul that needed to be filled.
Dad was always gregarious, eager to bend an ear, and willing to lay out all his thoughts, insecurities, and hopes. He picked up the mail at the post office instead of having it delivered, just so he could jaw with people there. Trips to the post office could take an hour – even two. I know; 10 year old me, stuck in the car waiting, would clock them. Trips to a bar or restaurant might never end.
That urgency, with an almost childlike need for people to always be all around him, was at the core both of Dad’s imperfection and his charm. The drinking, smoking, and bumpy relationships were all part of his endless searching, trying to find ways to connect with people. But even while searching, even when lost, he could summon some charm, singing off key – loudly – or belly up with a story - some of which may have been half-true. He was a man of infinite jest. And as we ask for mercy for an imperfect soul, let us not forget that his imperfections were all deeply human. I am sure there are many here today who found solace in his sympathy, who were encouraged by his friendship, or who found the way eased by his empathy and humanness.
During the last year, when I talked to him on the phone, I knew each call would end with a bit of downright sappiness. He’d say whatever else I did in life, I am proud of my children. And I love them.
Dad. We love you. And we hope your soul finds a garden in which to flourish with still more color, more perfect color, than this one where your ashes will remain. We commend your soul to God.
My thread seems to have become a bit like my grandmother's old christmas letters: a chronicle of all the maladies of those near and dear or even just somewhat near and gossip-worthy. Well, Merry Christmas all, and looking forward to a thread next year that reads more like Dorothy Parker reporting on the Round Table than Grandma reporting on the Family Circle!
here are some common serb swears: jebem ti materna, pičku ti maternu, mars v pičku maternu, jebo ti pas mater, boli me kurac
actually all are now slovene but originated from serbo-croat
definitions available upon request
Wish you all the best for the next coming months.
Don't worry about lagging behind in Faustus, we'll send you a résumé.
Anna, address those Arabic swears to this tumor. I've picked up some chinese ones, but it needs to be cursed in every way possible. And thanks for all hugs, thoughts, swears and prayers. All appreciated.
This should be fun for her .
Should indeed be fun. I'm on tenterhooks as to how she will like it.
I am spending some time looking for the Chinese originals of Hinton; he produces very nice English versions, but because he eschews fidelity to the original form, it leaves me wondering a lot about the original. Part of why these things can inspire 5 great English versions. But I'm enjoying it immensely, and the notes and commentary are also great. The arrangement and selection gives a better idea of Du Fu's growth and development than I have had. Must read the full length biography of Du Fu that Hinton summarizes in the materials at the end.
My little canid brain doesn't have the aptitude for this stuff, but I read your review (3X) and loved it. 'Another thumb (paw) for you.
Keep reviewing and keep fightin'.
BTW, how did your daughter like Moby?
And a happy Godeberta day to you, Sam.