19 oct. 2006


Una figura de la donna mia
S'adora, Guido, a San Michele in Orto,
Che di bella semblanza, onesta e pia,
De' peccatori è refugio e conforto

Pound [elements added by translator in italics]

My Lady's face is it they worship there,
At San Michele in Orto, Guido mine,
Near her fair semblance, that is clear and holy
Sinners take refuge and get consolation.

Minor padding? But why must translation always move in the direction of more, rather than fewer words? The additions don't add any greater clarity. They are there to pad the meter.

I don't know why you need two verbs, take and get, for a single action, where the Italian is content with a single verb: "is." She doesn't give them comfort, nor do they take comfort from her. Rather, she IS their refuge and comfort, at one and the same time. That's so much more direct.

I don't know why you have to specify that the sinners are near her fair semblance. That spatial relation is implicit in the original: the sinners are those worshipping at this particular church. Pound's "near" takes them futher away, in some sense.

This poetry is rather unforgiving of the translator, I fear. There's not a lot of lee-way. The only redundancy in the original is the repetition of figura and semblanza, two words that may be nearly synonymous. My literal version is in brackets below.

[An image of my lady / is adored, Guido, at SMIO, / which {image}, of beautiful aspect, chaste and devout, / is refuge and comfort for sinners].

4 comentarios:

Tony dijo...

Hm....wasn't Pound always fussing about such things? Metronome, etc.

Particularly heinous are the totally uncessary additions in the first line.

Jonathan dijo...

Indeed, Tony.

Henry Gould dijo...

Seems like, as you say, Pound was aiming for a metrical version - to make it "sing" in a way the italian does. The century of free verse, which Pound helped set in motion, has weakened the imperative for such things.

Nabokov's famous Pushkin labors hinged on this issue (verbal accuracy vs. "artful" imitation).

Jonathan dijo...

Well, it doesn't "sing." It's metrical, but the verse itself is not very adroit.