Picking up again on Allen’s 1980 “Sapphics” class, going through his classoom anthology
AG: So that was.. [Horace and Thomas Wyatt (bemoaning wasted opportunity)] Okay..also, there’s a great poem by Francois Villon about an old.. It’s called “Ballade de la belle Heaumière aux filles de joie” ( “The Complaint of the Fair Helm-Maker Grown Old”). It’s a real meticulous description, like her lacking her teeth, and the rheum matter of her eye, and the sagging belly collapsed – a really horrific description! This also refers a little bit to the Catullus that we just passed by, that we have all these translations of – So, “Furius and Aurelius..”, “Tell her of…” just the page (in your anthologies) before that, if you look – “Furius and Aurelius, True Comrades” (Catullus # 11) You got that there?
Student: (In the) Robert Fitzgerald translation?
AG: Yeah, and there are a couple of other translations of that before, but the angle, or idea, is that – three-quarters of the way down – (Allen begins reading) – “Take a little bulletin to my girl friend,/ Brief but not dulcet:/ Let her live and thrive with her fornicators/Of whom she hugs three hundred in an evening/ With no true love for any, leaving them broken-/Winded the same way./She need not look, as once she did, for my love./By her own fault it died, like a tumbling flower/ At the field’s edge, after the passing harrow/ Clipped it and left it.”
and if we go back a little more to the Catullus, we’ll find some other versions of that ..
James Cranstoun has a terrible Victorian post-Victorian translation – page twenty-two.. twelve pages beyond, twelve pages back..see page twenty two – “The Poet Travels …” – You see that? Anybody not? Anybody can’t find it? It’s just a few pages
Student: The Poet Travels?
AG: Yea, above that, right above “The Poet Travels…” – two stanzas – (Allen reads from Cranstoun’s translation) – “Still let her revel with her godless train,/ still clasp her hundred slaves to passion’s thrall,/ Still truly love not one but ever drain/The life-blood of them all”- Not very good. That guy tried to..
Student: (One of the better ones..)
AG: (No, there are ten better ones than that!
Student: Is that the same one?
AG: It’s the same one, but he tries to translate it into ten-ten-ten-six, quatrains, ABAB, ten syllables, ten syllables, ten syllables, six syllables. You know, just an approximation o that isn’t anywhere near approximate . So that’s the trouble with that kind of rhyme. There is.. And then (if) we go back further, you’ll find.. how many pages back?, oh, about..
Isn’t that bad! – See how bad it can get!
If you go back to the Loeb, there’s this little tiny-type Latin on one side, English on the other. [Allen displays] – “This is the way the page looks” – Go back to those. Another ten (pages) back, (eight back, I don’t know). It begins “Furius Aurelius..” – on the the right hand side of the page – “Furius Aurelius” – Got it? – Right hand side of the page – “Furius Aurelius”
Student: Oh, there’s the original Latin.
AG: Yeah, there’s the original Latin.
Furi et Aureli, comites Catulli,
sive in extremos penetrabit Indos,
litus ut longe resonante Eoa
seu Sacas sagittiferosve Parthos,
sive quae septemgeminus colorat
Caesaris visens monimenta magni,
Gallicum Rhenum, horribile aequor, ulti–
caelitum, temptare simul parati,
pauca nuntiate meae puellae
non bona dicta.
cum suis vivat valeatque moechis,
quos simul complexa tenet trecentos,
nullum amans vere, sed identidem omnium
nec meum respectet, ut ante, amorem,
qui illius culpa cecidit velut prati
ultimi flos, praetereunte postquam
tactus aratro est.
And this is the Loeb library literal translation. “Bid her go and be happy with her paramours, three hundred of whom she holds at once in her embrace, not loving one of them really, but again and again, draining the strength of all.”
And a translation by Horace Gregory – I don’t think you’ve got it here..let me see.. (going) further back…
Student: No, below, right below (it).
AG: Really? By Horace Gregory? – No, this, of that same poem .. Well, it’s a couple back, two back, you’ll find the (Roy Arthur) Swanson version – One page.. page eleven (it says page eleven on the top), it’s just a couple down… Find it? – “Furius, Aurelius, friends of Catullus..” and, on the right, “That fellow seems to be the same as God”‘ [a translation of Sappho]/ Yes? You’ve got that?
“Furius Aurelius, friends of Catullus” (says one). So it says -“..tell her to live with her rakes and be well,/ hugging three hundred or more at a time,/ loving not one but, in favor to all,/ pumping their loins.”
And then there is a translation, another translation around, let’s see if I can find it.
Student: There’s the Michie one in there.
AG: Yeah, that’s what we just.. where’s the Michie?, yeah… Do we have the Michie translation of that tho’? – Yeah – ((a) couple (of pages) before, you’ll find Michie – “Good luck to her..” – It’s about three from the top, three or four from the top . It’s right after the Latin, right after the Greek, right after the Greek stuff, three from the top – “Furius Aurelius, loyal comrades”.. – “translated”, at the bottom, “by James Michie”. Got that? Three from the very top. Got it? –
So the line there is “Good luck to her, let her enjoy her lovers,/ the whole three hundred that she hugs together,/ loving none truly, by grim repetition/Wringing them all sperm-dry” – I think I read that one before
and in Horace Gregory’s transation of that is “Live well and sleep with adulterous lovers./ Three hundred men between your thighs embracing all love turned false again, again and breaking their strength, now sterile…”
Well, I think, “wringing them all sperm-dry” is pretty good. What the… I don’t know what the (word) “rumpens” means – break? ilia rumpens – the Latin means breaking, I think.
Okay, lets see going on what else have we got here? – Why don’t we do another one, a nice Sapphic. Is there a nice Sapphic there that might…? – By Horace? – (yes) – A little bit more of Horace now, something different.
[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately thirty-seven-and-a-quarter minutes in, and concluding at approximately forty-two-and-a-half minutes in]