Thursday, June 04, 2009

Gawain: "The scaly dragon, surprised"

The scaly dragon, surprised,
seizing one metal-gold thigh in his teeth ...

Sorry, folks, but a few hours after posting this poem, I received an email reminding me that it was about to be published in Trespass Magazine. I had somehow forgotten to note that acceptance down in my files, and thought the poem was okay to post up. Apologies to Trespass, I've removed it now.

Ho-hum. I'll find a replacement once I'm back from the dentist. Assuming I ever come back from the dentist, that is.


Poetry Pleases! said...

I've never read Simon Armitage's 'translation' of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight but I would be utterly astonished if it were a patch on the masterful version that Keith Harrison produced for the Oxford World Classics series. I myself was going to translate Beaudelaire's Fleurs du Mal until I realised that Jacques Leclercq had already written (in 1958) a far better version than I could ever hope to. Incidentally, why did Armitage generate so much more publicity than Harrison? Faber & Spin, I suppose. I don't know whether this is encouragement or not but it's meant to be.

Simon R. Gladdish

Jane Holland said...

I'm not desperately bothered about other translations and whether or not they might be better/worse or wholly unconnected to my own treatment of the poem. I enjoy the original and would like to pursue the inspiration it gives me. That may or may not come to anything substantial.

If I was bothered by such considerations, of course, I'd be writing short lyrics a la mode and not floundering about in the backwaters of poetry.

Re the Fleurs du Mal translations, I've read extensively from a website featuring most of the best translations of Baudelaire and, with a few exceptions, not been impressed. Though I can't work out if that's because the original never made that much of an imapct on me - though B's persona certainly did - or whether I think I could do better. ;)

But here's a passing thought. As a poet-translator, you can't always choose freely. Sometimes a work just calls to you and that call is impossible to ignore, regardless of how many others have translated that work or whether you think a definitive version already exists in your chosen language.

Poetry Pleases! said...

Dear Jane
Here is a taste of Jacques Leclercq's translation of Baudelaire:


I worship you, O proud and taciturn,
As I do night's high vault: O sorrow's urn.
I love you all the more because you flee
And seem, gem of my nights, ironically
To mulitiply the weary leagues that sunder
My arms from all infinity's blue wonder.

I skirmish and I climb to the attack,
I, a worm's chorus on a corpse's back,
O fierce cruel beast, I cherish to the full
The very chill that makes you beautiful.

I have always had a weakness for decadent overblown ornate verse. I really enjoy your blog, by the way. Most blogs are thinly disguised ego trips but yours is a mine of useful information. Although you are already a fine poet, you rightly feel that there is always more to learn and never shy away from discussing the more tricky technical aspects of prosody. Also I've discovered (from your Warwick blog) that you share a birthday with my beloved sister.

Simon R. Gladdish

Jane Holland said...

That is pretty overblown, yes. But each to his own.

Scorpios are the best, it has to be admitted. ;)

Bo said...

Dreadful people! ;)

Jane Holland said...

Who, Scorpios?!

Now that's fighting talk. You're lucky I'm not an Aries and can see right through that ... ;)