Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Self-denying ordinance

Message to self: get on with the other stuff

radio play about a blogger sacked for blogging
translation of Alfred de Musset's Nuit de mai

Go on

One down: see Complete and Utter Poetry. It is perhaps worth explaining quite why I ended up translating from the French a poem by a Romantic poet whose work is relatively little known in Britain. Well, I was discussing the biographical influences on the poetry of the Romantic tradition with an international literary panel, and it was suggested that.... NO, NO, NO, that's wrong! that's so wrong! I stopped studying literature formally when I was 16; since then I've only done reading. Early in my career as an archaeological fieldworker, a combination of location and finance meant that I spent a bitter autumn living in a tent in the desolate wastelands of Lincolnshire; our sole entertainment was cheap books from the secondhand bookshop. One was an anthology of French prose and poetry. A working knowledge of French was one of the few practical skills I derived from my education (I have rarely found myself called upon to describe the formation of an ox-bow lake), and so I idly leafed through it, and came across Musset's poem. Knowing nothing about him or his work, I was simply pleasantly surprised that some of it was intelligible to me without much work. After spending a short time playing with a verse translation, I gave up, feeling that it was too 'poetic' to be made relevant, and instead used it as the basis for a poetic poem of my own (Cri de couer). Twenty years on, sorting through old papers, I came across my poem, and thought that it was worth putting on the website. This led me to try to find out about the original poem, and, the volume having long since vanished, I trawled the web, and found, to my surprise, that there was no readily-accessible English translation of the full text. So I have sat down and done one myself. And now I can go to a conference on the biographical influences on the poetry of the Romantic tradition, if I haven't got a better offer, like being shot through the knees and fed raw pigs' brains.

Update 2:
Play done too!

Now, what's next- world peace? perpetual motion?

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