Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Breaking my rule.

It is my own adopted rule that Dead Poets Month (DPM) only present entire poems written originally in English. Translations, however profound, by their very nature represent a loss to the reader. The cadence and lilt of a language--and the cultural sense of its words and syllables--simply cannot transfer. And snippets of poems are just that: snippets, soundbites that demand context and further reading.

But then there's Dante. I can't read Italian and confess I have never read the entire Paradiso in one gulp. Still, no DPM is complete without him, and rules were made for man, not man for rules! To ameliorate, I've included the original Italian side-by-side. From Canto III.55:

E questa sorte che par giù cotanto,
però n'è data, perché fuor negletti
li nostri voti, e vòti in alcun canto".
And we are to be found within a sphere
this low, because we have neglected vows,
so that in some respect we were deficient."


e said...

Mmm. Dante with l'italiano and English.... Ya know, I think you definitely lose a particular cadence and colorfulness once it's put into that exacting English language. I love learning Italian. Too bad there won't be hardly any Italians left in a few generations...
Who did this translation?

e said...

Um, yeah, I think whoever did this translation must have had training as a lawyer...