Monday, January 28, 2013

"Sonnet 135" by William Shakespeare

Sonnet 135

Whoever hath her wish, thou hast thy Will,
And Will to boot, and Will in overplus;
More than enough am I, that vex thee still,
To thy sweet will making addition thus.
Wilt thou, whose will is large and spacious,
Not once vouchsafe to hide my will in thine?
Shall will in others seem right gracious,
And in my will no fair acceptance shine?
The sea, all water, yet receives rain still,
And in abundance addeth to his store;
So thou, being rich in Will, add to thy Will
One will of mine, to make thy large Will more:
     Let no unkind, no fair beseechers kill;
     Think all but one, and me in that one Will.

Source of the text – The Arden Shakespeare Complete Works, Revised Edition, edited by Richard Proudfoot, Ann Thompson, David Scott Kastan, and H.R. Woudhuysen.  London: Arden Shakespeare, an imprint of Cengage Learning, 2002, p. 40.

TJB:  Pun on the edge of nervous breakdown. In densely parallel, surprise-repetitive polysemy, is it a message in a bottle or a Rorschach blot?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

"This coloured counterfeit that thou beholdest" by Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz

The poem as composed in Spanish:

"A su retrato"

Este, que ves, engaño colorido,
que del arte ostentando los primores,
con falsos silogismos de colores
es cauteloso engaño del sentido:

éste, en quien la lisonja ha pretendido
excusar de los años los horrores,
y venciendo del tiempo los rigores,
triunfar de la vejez y del olvido,

es un vano artificio del cuidado,
es una flor al viento delicada,
es un resguardo inútil para el hado:

es una necia diligencia errada,
es un afán caduco y, bien mirado,
es cadáver, es polvo, es sombra, es nada.

English translation by Samuel Beckett:

"This coloured counterfeit that thou beholdest"...

This coloured counterfeit that thou beholdest,
vainglorious with excellencies of art,
is, in fallacious syllogisms of colour,
nought but a cunning dupery of sense;

this in which flattery has undertaken
to extenuate the hideousness of years,
and, vanquishing the outrages of time,
to triumph o’er oblivion and old age,

is an empty artifice of care,
is a fragile flower in the wind,
is a paltry sanctuary from fate,

is a foolish sorry labour lost,
is conquest doomed to perish and, well taken,
is corpse and dust, shadow and nothingness.

Source of the text in Spanish: from Margaret Sayers Peden, “Building a Translation” from The Craft of Translation, edited by John Biguenet, Rainer Schulte… p.15 [poem in Spanish]

Source of the English translation: An Anthology of Mexican Poetry, edited by Octavio Paz and translated by Samuel Beckett.  Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1965, p. 85.

TJB: Vision apposition. Amid strong rhetoric, is this a portrait? Beckett turns Sor Juana into an Elizabethan ironist & nails the chant-sestet.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

"Whoso list to hunt" by Thomas Wyatt


Whoso list to hunt, I know where is an hind,
But as for me, helas, I may no more.
The vain travail hath wearied me so sore,
I am of them that farthest cometh behind.
Yet may I by no means my wearied mind
Draw from the deer, but as she fleeth afore
Fainting I follow. I leave off therefore
Sithens in a net I seek to hold the wind.
Who list her hunt, I put him out of doubt,
As well as I may spend his time in vain.
And graven with diamonds in letters plain
There is written, her fair neck round about:
Noli me tangere for Caesar’s I am,
And wild for to hold though I seem tame.’

Source of the text – Sir Thomas Wyatt: The Complete Poems, edited by R.A. Rebholz.  London: Penguin Books, 1997, p. 77.

TJB: Dear-hunt. With wild syntax and tame semantics, the poet declines to poach his king’s concubine—or is he just tired? And why clue others in?

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