Tom Simard

Poetry, Music, and Prose

Archive for the category “Translation”

Book 24

“But he found his father, alone, on a well-banked plot,
Spading a plant. He had on an old, dirty shirt,
Mended and patched, and leather leggings
Pieced together as protection from scratches.
He wore gloves because of the bushes, and on his head
He had a goatskin cap, crowning his sorrow.
Odysseus, who had borne much, saw him like this,
Worn with age and a grieving heart,
And wept as he watched from a pear tree’s shade.”

Book 23

“And death shall come to me from the sea,
As gentle as this touch, and take me off
When I am worn out in sleek old age,
With my people prosperous around me.

Book 22

“But everyone he saw lay in the blood and dust,
The whole lot of them, like fish that fishermen
Have drawn up in nets from the grey sea
Onto the curved shore. They lie all in heaps
On the sand beach, longing for the salt waves,
And the blazing sun drains their life away.
So too the suitors, lying in heaps.”

Book 21

“Odysseus strung the great bow. Lifting it up,
He plucked the string, and it sang beautifully
Under his touch, with a note like a swallow’s.”

Book 20

‘”You are shrouded in night from top to toe,
Lamentation flares, your cheeks melt with tears,
And the walls of the house are spattered with blood.
The porch and the court are crowded with ghosts
Streaming down to the undergloom. The sun is gone
From heaven, and an evil mist spreads over the land.”

Book 19

“Snow deposited high in the mountains by the wild West Wind
Slowly melts under the East Wind’s breath,
And as it melts the rivers rise in their channels.
So her lovely cheeks coursed with tears as she wept
For her husband, who was sitting before her.”

Book 18

“’Out of the doorway, geezer, before I throw you out
On your ear! Don’t you see all these people
Winking at me to give you the bum’s rush?
I wouldn’t want to stoop so low, but if you don’t
Get out now, I may have to lay hands on you.’”

Book 17

“There lay the hound Argus, infested with lice.
And now, when he sensed Odysseus was near,
He wagged his tail and dropped both ears
But could not drag himself nearer his master.

Book 16

“They fell to feasting. There was plenty for everyone,
And when they all had enough of food and drink,
Their minds turned toward rest, and they took the gift of sleep.

Book 15

“Telemachus and his crew were now near to shore
And furling the sails in the early light.
They struck the mast quickly and rowed the ship
Up to her mooring. They threw out the anchor-stones,
Made the stern cables fast, and then disembarked
Onto the beach, where they prepared their meal
And mixed the glinting wine.”

Book 14

“The sea grew dark beneath it, and Zeus thundered
And struck the ship with a lightning bolt.
She shivered from stem to stern and was filled
With sulfurous smoke. The men went overboard,
Bobbing in the waves like sea crows
Around the black ship, their day of return
Snuffed out by the god.”

Book 13

“At the harbor’s head a slender-leaved olive
Stands near a cave glimmering through the mist
And sacred to the nymphs called Naiades.
Inside are bowls and jars of stone
Where bees store honey, and long stone looms
Where the nymphs weave shrouds as dark as the sea.”

Book 12

“‘On the other route there are two rocks.
One stabs its peak into the sky
And is ringed by a dark blue cloud. This cloud
Never melts, and the air is never clear
During summer or autumn. No mortal man
Could ever scale this rock, not even if he had
Twenty hands and feet. The stone is as smooth
As if it were polished. Halfway up the cliff
Is a misty cave facing the western gloom.'”

Book 11

“Then out of Erebus
The souls of the dead gathered, the ghosts
Of brides and youths and worn-out old men
And soft young girls with hearts new to sorrow,
And many men wounded with bronze spears,
Killed in battle, bearing blood-stained arms.
They drifted up to the pit from all sides
With an eerie cry, and pale fear seized me.”

Book 10

“The winds rushed out
And bore them far out to sea, weeping
As their native land faded on the horizon.”

Book 9

“There we sailed in,
Some god guiding us through the murky night.
We couldn’t see a thing. A thick fog
Enveloped the ships, and the moon
Wasn’t shining in the cloud-covered sky.
None of us could see the island, or the long waves
Rolling toward the shore, until we ran our ships
Onto the sandy beach. Then we lowered sail,
Disembarked, and fell asleep on the sand.”

Book 8

“A stranger and suppliant is as dear as a brother
To anyone with even an ounce of good sense.”

Book 7

“Outside the courtyard,
Just beyond the doors, are four acres of orchard
Surrounded by a hedge. The trees there grow tall,
Blossoming pear trees and pomegranates,
Apple trees with bright, shiny fruit, sweet figs
And luxuriant olives.”

Book 6

“The grey-eyed goddess spoke and was gone,
Off to Olympus, which they say is forever
The unmoving abode of the gods, unshaken
By winds, never soaked by rain, and where the snow
Never drifts, but the brilliant sky stretches
Cloudless away, and brightness streams through the air.”

Book 5

“Tendrils of ivy curled around the cave’s mouth,
The glossy green vine clustered with berries.
Four separate springs flowed with clear water, criss-
Crossing channels as they meandered through meadows
Lush with parsley and blossoming violets.”

Book 4

“When the sun is at high noon, the unerring
Old Man of the Sea comes from the salt water,
Hidden in dark ripples the West Wind stirs up,
And then lies down to sleep in the scalloped caves.
All around him seals, the brine-spirit’s brood,
Sleep in a herd. They come out of the grey water.
With breath as fetid as the depths of the sea.”

Book 3

“The sun rose from the still, beautiful water
Into the bronze sky, to shine upon the gods
And upon men who die on the life-giving earth.”

Book 2

“Hear me, god of yesterday. You came to our house
And commanded me to sail the misty sea
In search of news of my long-absent father.”

Book 1

“Athena spoke, and she bound on her feet
The beautiful sandals, golden, immortal,
That carry her over landscape and seascape
On a puff of wind. And she took the spear,
Bronze-tipped and massive, that the Daughter uses
To level battalions of heroes in her wrath.”

The Odyssey

A very early heads up for those who might want to join others in reading the Stanley Lombardo translation of the Odyssey.  As you might recall, last year we did the same with the Stephen Mitchell translation of The Iliad, which I found to be an incredible read.  The idea is to begin mid-December.


For the wine aficionados among you, I’m not talking about the six-liter bottle but rather the man spoken of in Genesis.

Recently I was asked (as you are) if I really believed that Methuselah had lived to the ripe old age of 969.  Using the tried and trued method of answering a question with a question, the effectiveness of which should be evident to anyone who has read Jesus responding to the Pharisees, I asked, “What do you think?”

After being told, no, I responded by saying what I found difficult to believe was not his age but that he had been struck down by a taxi cab.

Book 2 (Initial Impression)

It started off briliantly, and I was certain it was going to be a glorious replay of Book 1. But then a little after the halfway point came The Catalogue of Ships.

Here are a few lines from the first part:
“And as the west wind sweeps through the high-standing grain
with its violent blast, and the ears all shudder and bow:
just so was the army shaken, and in the uproar
men rushed toward the shore, and the dust from beneath their feet
rose high and hung in the air.”

Book 1 (Initial Impression)

It is told so clearly that even someone not familiar with the storyline would have little difficulty. The language is superb and the words flow so readily it was as if I were reading Wordsworth’s The Prelude.

Thetis says to her son Achilles:
“If only you could have stayed by the ships, without tears,
without pain, since your life is destined to be so short.
Not only must you die young, but your fleeting days
are doomed to be full of sorrow beyond all others.”

Translation (The What)

I’ll admit it’s important. However, I also know arriving at the best text is an extremely complicated matter. Seeing I’m not a classicist, am not able to read the Iliad in Greek, and know nothing about the texts under consideration, I will just have to plead ignorance.

Knowing that the earliest full text of the New Testament dates to the 4th century AD, I was very surprised to learn that for the Iliad (Venetus A) it is the 10th century AD.

I really liked what Mitchell says in his Introduction:

“I am under no illusion that I have translated the original text of the Iliad, as written or dictated by the anonymous poet called Homer-just the most intelligent attempt we have at getting back to an original, and a text that I could use as the basis for the most intense possible poetic experience in English.”

Translation (The When)

Wycliffe Bible (1380s)
“In tho daies Joon Baptist cam, and prechide in the desert of Judee,
and seide, Do ye penaunce, for the kyngdom of heuenes shal neiye.”

Tyndale Bible (1526)
“In those dayes Ihon the Baptyst came and preached in the wildernes of Iury
saynge; Repet the kyngdome of heue is at honde.”

King Jame Version (1611)
“In those daies came Iohn the Baptist, preachinng in the wilderness of Iudea,
and saying, Repent yee: for the kingdom of heauen is at hand.”

King James Version (1769)
“In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea,
And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Darby Bible (1892)
“Now in those days comes John the baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea,
and saying, Repent, for the kingdom of the heavens has drawn nigh.”

New International Version (1984)
“In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea
and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”

The Translator

Here is one link and another for those who are interested in learning somethng about Stephen Mitchell, the translator, of the Iliad.

Translation (The Who)

Besides his obvious literary gifts, can you think of a reason why the French so admire Edgar Allan Poe?

The Literal Translation

Young’s Literal Translation is a translation of the Bible into English, published in 1862…The Literal Translation is unusual in that, as the name implies, it is a strictly literal translation of the original Hebrew and Greek texts.”

Here are the first few verses from Genesis:

“In the beginning of God’s preparing the heavens and the earth —
the earth hath existed waste and void, and darkness on the face of the deep, and the Spirit of God fluttering on the face of the waters,
and God saith, ‘Let light be;’ and light is.
And God seeth the light that it is good, and God separateth between the light and the darkness,
and God calleth to the light ‘Day,’ and to the darkness He hath called ‘Night;’ and there is an evening, and there is a morning — day one.”

The Cottonpatch Version

Most people are familiar with Harry Chapin’s haunting Cat’s in the Cradle  but you may be less familiar with his humanitarian side.

“In the mid-1970s, Chapin focused on his social activism, including raising money to combat hunger in the United States. His daughter Jen said: “‘He saw hunger and poverty as an insult to America.'”

You also may not know that his last music and lyrics was for a musical called, Cotton Patch Gospel, which was based on The Cottonpatch Version of Matthew and John by Clarence Jordan.  Do you know Habit for Humanity?  Jordan was instrumental in its founding.

It has taken a long way to get to where I was planning to go, but I hope no one has felt you’ve taken one of those dreadful detours.

Here’s an excerpt from the Gospel of Matthew.

“One day John the Baptizer showed up and started preaching in the rural areas of Georgia. “Reshape your lives,” he said “because God’s new order of the Spirit is confronting you. This is what the prophet Isaiah meant when he said,

‘A voice is shouting in the rurals:
Lay out the Lord’s highway
Straighten his roads.’ “

Translation (The How)

To begin, consider these two entries from Wikipedia:

Sense-for-sense translation…fundamentally means translating the meaning of each whole sentence before moving on to the next, and stands in normative opposition to word-for-word translation (also known as literal translation), which means translating the meaning of each lexical item in sequence.”

Dynamic and formal equivalence are terms for methods of translation coined by Eugene Nida. The two terms have often been understood as fundamentally the same as sense-for-sense translation (translating the meanings of phrases or whole sentences) and word-for-word translation (translating the meanings of individual words in their more or less exact syntactic sequence), respectively, and Nida did often seem to use them this way. But his original definition of dynamic equivalence was rhetorical: the idea was that the translator should translate so that the effect of the translation on the target reader is roughly the same as the effect of the source text once was on the source reader.”

Setting Sail

Having recently completed Gershom Scholem’s monumental work on Sabbatai Sevi, I think I can safely begin.

Scholem’s introduction to the Sabbatian movement was 102 pages long.  Well done, I say. I’ve always thought trying to get proper bearings was necessary before setting sail, which is what I’ll be trying to do.  I know the analogy is better suited to The Odyssey but always having had a strong pacifistic streak, I feel a little awkward saying sharpening my swords – unless, of course, they’re being made into plowshares, which I am pretty sure is not the case in The Iliad.

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: