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Andrew Frisardi 05-23-2018 01:15 PM

Dante sonnet
removed for cleaning

Aaron Poochigian 05-23-2018 02:29 PM

Andrew, thank you for translating this. Dante’s sonnets and canzoni tend not to come over well, and I am glad that you have made something delightful out of this one.

You switch the opening statement to a question but don’t include a question mark.

If you choose to go with a statement I would suggest opening with “Guido, I think it would be great if you. . .”

“harmonic with our point of view” is an overtranslation. What “al voler vostro e mio” means is open to interpretation, but I am confident it means something like “at your will and mine” or “at our will,” that is, they steer the ship simply by willing it go somewhere.

Rhyme-strain shows up in lines 7 and 8—the last two sentences of the octave come off as disconnected and random.

I don’t see any reason for the distributive “each” in line 13—I would suggest:

And they will be contented with us beaux,
as naturally we’ll be with them as well.

I know your “contented” translates “contenta” but it comes off as bathetic—after all this magical rapture, they will be merely “content” with each other? I suspect “contenta” means something more like “full” of one another.


John Isbell 05-23-2018 02:55 PM

Hi Andrew,

It's great to see the play you've brought out in this sonnet, which (the play) I think not everyone associates with Dante. So a thumbs up from me. I've not studied your rendering, just read it through once with some enjoyment. Will return.


Julie Steiner 05-23-2018 03:33 PM

In my own experience of small boats, someone's usually turning extremely unbeautiful and unhappy at some point, with or without storms or squalls. But hey, it's a fantasy.

This sonnet was fun, and new to me. Thanks. Feel free to disregard my three wee nits:

1. Coming from an narrator who has just said, "Hey, Guido," doesn't "harmonic with our point of view" seem a little too high-register in tone?

2. Familiar phrases such as Rumpole's "She Who Must Be Obeyed" probably make "her who" sound strange to you, but it really needs to be "with her who." After all, "with her" would feel completely natural if there were no "who" clause after it. If you really hate saying "with her who," you might need to reword that whole bit so that the pronoun isn't the object of a preposition.

3. A little repetition might help your final line sound more natural:

And each will be contented with us beaux;
I think we'll be content with them as well.

Susan McLean 05-23-2018 08:05 PM

Andrew, I dislike the "Hey" at the start, but if you feel you must use it, you should put a comma after it, to set off the direct address to Guido. I think you have a conversational tone without the need for clichés like "Hey" at the start. For L8, I might suggest "one goal, that our affection always grew." I agree with Julie that the "she" in L10 needs to be "her."


Martin Rocek 05-24-2018 01:58 AM

Hi Andrew,
I really enjoyed this.

A few little nits: I agree with others that “the breeze harmonic” is a bit too contrived.
Perhaps something like
the breeze in harmony with all our views
though I guess you won’t except the imprecision of the rhyme.

I also think “guess what? (it starts with L).” is a little too clever—Dante
doesn’t avoid the word love, and it seems a bit of a distraction to do so.

Thanks for the read!

Edward Zuk 05-24-2018 03:57 AM

Hi Andrew,

This was fun, and I like how you try to bring out the lightheartedness of the poem. It’s fascinating to compare this to Shelley’s polished, formal version. Here are a few suggestions:

Line 1: Like Susan and Aaron, I’d prefer a simple “Guido.” You don’t keep up the level of “Hey, Guido” informality through the rest of the poem.

Line 4: I see what you’re going for, but “the breeze harmonic” sounds odd, and “point of view” doesn’t quite get “according to our will” from your crib. Playing around, I came up with the following, which might give you some ideas:

As breezes take us where we wish them to

Along with winds obedient to our view

To where we wished, not being blown askew,

Lines 5-6: “Storm and squall” to me are too similar, and your crib has “storm or bad weather,” which is not a simple repetition. Line 6 sounds like it has some filler. Again, playing around with this, I came up with:

Nothing storms or the elements could do . . .

Storms and bad weather could not do
A thing to halt us on our steady-paced . . .

Line 13: A small tweak at the end for the rhythm: “be content with us as beaux”

Andrew Frisardi 05-24-2018 08:42 AM

Revision posted, using almost all your suggestions.

Aaron, I used your suggestion for line 1, thanks. I hope you like line 5 better now, as well as lines 7-8 (where I used Susan’s edit).

“contento” is really rather a gentle emotion, and meant in Dante’s time exactly what it means in current Italian: “contented” but also mildly happy—like when a friend is coming to supper, people say “Sono contento.” But in this context and because in English we don’t use the word that way, “delighted” seemed like a good compromise.

John, thanks for the thumbs up.

Julie, I’ve Obeyed your grammatical edit. Thank you. And “Hey” has been chopped. People don’t get seasick on magical small boats.

Susan, as you see, I’ve lopped the “Hey” at the start and gratefully used your edit for line 8--a very elegant solution. Thanks.

Martin, I hope my edits have taken care of your nits. I'm sticking with the clever play on "L" because the word comes up in all of Dante's lyrical poems, as it did in the poems of Guido and Lapo. For our time, though, a bit of irony feels right. Thanks for reading (and, btw, great to see you again).

Ed, your suggestions did indeed jar loose some ideas for my revision, for which many thanks.

Everyone: does anything in this one still feel off?

AZ Foreman 05-24-2018 06:32 PM

I think the "starts with L" bit is right on the money in terms of tone. And oddly in keeping with what that commentator said of him:

Io scrittore udii dire a Dante, che mai rima nol trasse a dire altro che quello ch'avea in suo proponimento; ma ch'elli molte e spesse volte facea li vocaboli dire nelle sue rime altro che quello, ch'erano appo gli altri dicitori usati di sprimere

"as naturally we'll be with them" carries a nice bit of wordplay. "As well" matches the emphatic tone of the pronoun at the end as well. I would add something to set "of course" off from "along." "Along —of course— or "along, of course," otherwise it takes a bit longer to parse.

I'm not sure "gale or tempest" sufficiently conveys the multiple resonances of "fortuna od altro tempo rio." I get that Fortuna is short for Fortunale here, but the term "Fortuna" is so loaded (and is used so much by Dante in its classic sense) that the other sense seems important to the flavor of the passage. Doubly so when I see it placed alongside "tempo." The denotative meaning of the passage is obv. "storm or foul weather" but connotatively it seems to pack a much broader punch, if only ironically. I have no idea how you'd work that dimension of wordplay into the English, but it seems like it would be worth trying.

Bill Carpenter 05-24-2018 08:40 PM

Much enjoyed this experiment in eliciting a playful tone from Dante, which I think is quite successful. The frequent enjambments heighten the sense of play. Nothing off to me. I especially like "blows away."

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