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  #11  
Unread 01-06-2019, 01:25 AM
Julie Steiner's Avatar
Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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Okay, I think I've got the final tercet now, although it's a little more convoluted than I would like. Posted above.
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  #12  
Unread 01-06-2019, 06:22 AM
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Michael F Michael F is offline
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Julie, my only question or hesitation in the final lines is 'tangy' for 'acre'. I immediately hear 'bitter' for that word, and thus 'bittersweet' for the pomegranate's taste -- which works with the sense of the poem, as I read it. But perhaps that is to spell out too directly what is implicit.

What a sad and beautiful extended metaphor.

M
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  #13  
Unread 01-07-2019, 12:35 AM
Julie Steiner's Avatar
Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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Michael, I had considered putting "bitter" with "sweet," la Sappho, but talked myself out of it for these reasons:

1.) Words like "acrid," "bitter," "stinging," and "pungent," aren't generally taken to be desirable, but "tangy" has far more positive associations. I think of "tangy" as pleasantly acidic and flavorful, with risk of sharp pain only to someone who (like the narrator) is wounded.

[A wee digression: The hypothetical discoverer of the narrator's painfully-hoarded repression is said to be a stranger to such pain: that might mean only that this lover has no firsthand experience of self-denial, but I take it to imply blissful ignorance of the narrator's distress, too. I imagine that this rather uncomplicated person--well, not even a person, but a "mouth"--will experience uncomplicated pleasure from the same encounter that costs the neurotic narrator so much. Which is part of the sadness of the scenario, I think: even in his fantasy about finally being with someone, he can't imagine not being alone in his anguish. Poor guy.]

2.) It's strange that dictionary and thesaurus entries in both English and Spanish consider "acrid," "bitter," "caustic," "sour," "tart," and "acidic" to be synonyms, when some of those terms are actually polar opposites, scientifically speaking. Acids taste sour and bases taste bitter; and pomegranate juice is definitely on the low side of the pH scale. I guess the pedant in me wants to correct the poet, which is not a good impulse in a translator. But I confess that I feel that urge nonetheless. I hope that the interchangeability of two classes of words for most people--including, apparently, the poet--means that the more acidic "tangy" isn't completely unfaithful to his choice of a cognate of "acrid," which is, indeed, more on the caustic and bitter side, pH-wise.

How's that for arguing with a critique, huh? It may not convince you, and I'm not sure it entirely convinces me, either, but that's what I was thinking. [Now that I've overthought it, maybe "acrid" is a more fitting description of whatever juices that "mouth" is actually contacting, outside of the metaphor. Ahem.]

BTW, the Spanish puts "acre" ahead of "dulce," which connotes pain before pleasure. That's a suggestive order. [Edited to say that maybe "my tart-sweet taste" will convey that. I've tried that in the latest revision (Sunday night) above, replacing "my sweet and tangy taste.]

I'm still of two minds on the "honeycombs" vs. "hexagons" issue in L2. Does anyone have a strong preference for one or the other?

Last edited by Julie Steiner; 01-07-2019 at 01:56 AM.
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  #14  
Unread 01-07-2019, 07:04 AM
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Michael F Michael F is offline
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[Now that I've overthought it, maybe "acrid" is a more fitting description of whatever juices that "mouth" is actually contacting, outside of the metaphor. Ahem.]

LOL ... I'm glad it wasn't just my dirty mind ...

I like 'honeycombs'. I just think it's a prettier word, and it works for me with the poem.

FWIW, I felt the poet was addressing me directly, as one who (very fortunately) never experienced such repression, yet got to taste the tart-sweet beauty of the poem. It slakes a thirst I didn't know I had.

M
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  #15  
Unread 01-07-2019, 11:25 AM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is online now
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Julie, there's something that feels wrong to me about "within" a taste; one doesn't say that something is inside a taste. Also, "tart-sweet" feels more clinical than poetic. I might suggest something along the lines of "and use my sweet and sour taste / to satisfy its thirst with mine." I like what you have done with the last line. I think "tangy" does sound a bit too positive for the ache that was described earlier, though there is a suggestion that the combination of flavors is delicious. This is a beautiful poem, so I am glad to encounter it, since I do not read Spanish.

Susan
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  #16  
Unread 01-08-2019, 02:31 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi Julie,

What a lovely sonnet! Thank you for Englishing it so crisply and elegantly. Like Susan, I stumble only in the penultimate line, where I don't think you've yet found the simplicity of "y en mi acre y dulce sabor." I know you've tried "and in my sweet and bitter taste," but I think something along those lines might be revisited.
I hear Baudelaire in this, and Valery, but also the Spanish tradition. Quite lovely.

Cheers,
John
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  #17  
Unread 01-08-2019, 12:21 PM
Julie Steiner's Avatar
Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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Michael, Susan, John,

Thanks for continuing to defend the spirit of the poem. Draft Two posted above.

Frankly, I don't fully understand the grammatical relationship of the prepositional phrase beginning with L13's "en" to the rest of the sentence. The "en" phrase and the "con" phrase both seem to be modifying "sacie su sed." I don't want to use "with" in L13, because I think the all-important "with mine" in the next line will be undercut by the duplication. So I've rephrased LL13-14 to be more grammatically straightforward.

I've gone with "my sweet and acrid taste" in L13, because "acrid" is cognate with the original's "acre," and lends itself to either acidity or bitterness. (I also think it somewhat echoes the "ache" in the previous tercet.)

I was briefly tempted to go with "my sweet, acetic taste" because of the similarity to "ascetic"; but that would be introducing a pun that's not in the original, and the scientific register would clash with the original's simplicity.

Thanks again for your very helpful input. It's a lovely poem and I want to do right by it. It doesn't go into the public domain under US law for another two years, so I can't publish it yet. (Actually, in Mexico, copyright doesn't expire until 100 years after the author's death, and I haven't been able to track down who holds Villaurrutia's. I might need to do that before a publisher will touch this, even in the US. In Mexico there's a major literary prize named in his honor, so maybe the awarding organization will know.)

Last edited by Julie Steiner; 01-08-2019 at 12:28 PM.
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  #18  
Unread 01-08-2019, 02:57 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Acrid. Much better than bitter. Nice one Julie!

John
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  #19  
Unread 01-09-2019, 10:25 AM
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Michael F Michael F is offline
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Maybe 'by' for 'en'?

and by my sweet and acrid taste
will satisfy its thirst with mine.


Perhaps this is easier on the Spanish? Just a thought.

[Edited in: the more I read this the more I hear a poem about liberation. I really like that.]

M

Last edited by Michael F; 01-09-2019 at 06:36 PM.
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  #20  
Unread 01-26-2019, 11:56 PM
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Martin Rocek Martin Rocek is offline
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Hi Julie,
I am glad to be back to reading and commenting. I like this a lot. I agree with those who don't like "fabricate"--would "must create" change the meaning too much?

Thanks for introducing me to this fascinating poem. I'll be coming back to it.

Martin
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