7 oct. 2003

Zukofsky's "Test of Poetry"

I. 1 a

Heroic couplet translation of the Odyssey. Definitely not Pope. The meter is quite pedestrian, with an overabundance of monosyllables:

"Arrived now at our ship, we launched, and set
Our mast up, put forth sail, and in did get
Our late-got cattle. Up our sails, we went..."

There is quite a bit of redundancy, partly in the use of epithets ("deep Oceanus," "the cheerful sun"). The translator has not a particularly good ear for IP. His phrasing is not particularly felicitous: "Circe (the excellent utterer of her mind)." I can't place it in time: maybe early to mid 17th century? It remind me of some of the inept blank verse quoted by Saintsbury, although it is not blank verse. C-

1 b

Another translation of the same passage, this time in ABAB rhyme scheme. The same predominance of monosyllables. The meter seems to pound: "To winds and steerage we our way commend / And careless sit from morning till 'twas dark / Then found ourselves at th'Ocean's farthest end / Where up to land the wind had forc'd our bark." This translator has a better sense of language: "with fears in mind / And tears in eye," and avoids the redundancy that I'm sure Zuke hated in 1a. This one has to be within fifty to a hundred years of 1a. B-

1 c

A "Poundian" version of the same passage. Probably not Pound himself. Pared-down and modern, with a minimum of Pound's usual archaisms:

"Then the dark: a deep river--alien
To our world--where the Cimmerii live:
In cloud and fog no sun ever
Broke, or a star. Beached in pitch-dark..."

A lot of spondees. It could have been written yesterday by Stan Lombardo, although "A Test of Poetry" (hithertoo ATOP) was published in 1948, when Stan was yet a babe or perhaps not even that. A

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