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  #21  
Unread 08-15-2019, 03:45 PM
Simon Hunt Simon Hunt is offline
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The Pogues did a musical setting of this (translation and music by Jem Finer).

Here's a link to a video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=SvOhI8iMrg8


And here are the lyrics:

PONT MIRABEAU

Below the Pont Mirabeau
Slow flows the Seine
And all our love's together
Must I recall again
Joy would always follow
After pain

Hands holding hands
Let us stand face to face
While underneath the bridge
Of our arms entwined slow race
Eternal gazes flowing
At waves pace

Let night fall, let the hours go by
The days pass on and here stand I

Love runs away
Like running water flows
Love flows away
But oh, how slow life goes
How violent is hope
Love only knows

Let night fall, let the hours go by
The days pass on and here stand I

The days flow ever on
The weeks pass by in vain
Time never will return
Nor our loves burn again
Below the Pont Mirabeau
Slow flows the Seine

Let night fall, let the hours go by
The days pass on and here stand I
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  #22  
Unread 08-15-2019, 06:08 PM
Julie Steiner's Avatar
Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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Good to have your thoughts on those, John. And Simon, thanks for the Pogues version, which I would probably not otherwise have encountered.

I've added a correction and a caveat to my Mirabeau pontifications at Post #20, above.
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  #23  
Unread 08-15-2019, 07:43 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi Julie,

There is certainly a French tradition of reference to the Angelus in painting (Millet, say) and literature (Madame Bovary). In that, you make an excellent case. But of course, every hour sounds in a whole bunch of churches - it did for me growing up in Canterbury and Cambridge, it did just this week in Barcelona as I admired the cathedral.
To support your argument, he does say “Vienne la nuit.” But I find the French less specific than Wilbur’s English is.

Cheers,
John

Update: thanks also Simon for the reminder that The Pogues are always worth a listen. I see they avoided deciding about the possible Angelus reference, FWIW.

Last edited by John Isbell; 08-15-2019 at 07:48 PM.
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  #24  
Unread 08-16-2019, 12:20 AM
Julie Steiner's Avatar
Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Isbell View Post
Update: thanks also Simon for the reminder that The Pogues are always worth a listen. I see they avoided deciding about the possible Angelus reference, FWIW.
LOL, John!

I still think that in this poem, "sonne l'heure" right after "Vienne la nuit" strongly implies a special ringing of bells to mark the end of the day, not just the end of an hour like any other.

The curfew bell at the beginning of Gray's Elegy has a similar day-ending concept:

Quote:
The curfew tolls the knell of parting day,
     The lowing herd wind slowly o'er the lea,
The ploughman homeward plods his weary way,
     And leaves the world to darkness and to me.
And guess what! Gray's "curfew bell" actually seems to be an Angelus bell in disguise, too:

Quote:
The Angelus, in all its stages of development, was closely associated with the ringing of a church bell. The bell is still rung in some English country churches and has often been mistaken for, and alleged to be a remnant of, the curfew bell.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angelus#Angelus_bell
Did either Apollinaire or Gray know, or care, about the history of specific religious associations with that special ringing of the bells at the end of the day? Probably not--especially given Apollinaire's lifelong lack of religiosity. But I still think that Wilbur's "bells end the day" translation in the repetend is spot-on.

Anyway, thanks for humoring me while I've yammered on.

Last edited by Julie Steiner; 08-18-2019 at 09:29 PM. Reason: I had better quote Gray from a source with Brit spelling
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  #25  
Unread 08-16-2019, 01:46 AM
Julie Steiner's Avatar
Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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Well, this is tantalizing. I found a Google Books version of correspondence between Richard Wilbur and the editor who commissioned his translation of this poem. Some of the drafts and the logic behind various decisions are presented and discussed by the two, in almost a line-by-line fashion. Not all of the pages are accessible, but those that are fascinate me.

[Edited to remove the URL I provided, since Google Books seems to reduce the number of pages that one can see each time you visit the same resource, and I think that the very long URL must have some coded info in it that will count how many times it's been accessed in that way. You'll have better results if you just search for "correspondence between paul auster and richard wilbur," which is a phrase from the first line of the article. This article has been republished in other translation-related monographs several times, so you may be able to find a fuller presentation of the text in another version.]

And now I've got to focus on my weekend obligations.

Last edited by Julie Steiner; 08-16-2019 at 11:37 AM.
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  #26  
Unread 08-17-2019, 08:06 PM
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Catherine Chandler Catherine Chandler is offline
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There are good/excellent and bad/horrific elements in all the translations posted. If I had to chose one over the rest, it would be the Wilbur translation.
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  #27  
Unread 08-18-2019, 03:49 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi Julie,

I've finally got to the correspondence you pointed to. I agree, it is tantalizing. Nice to see the origins of this version, and the thought that Wilbur brought to each line. He doesn't, in these extracts, reflect much on the Angelus controversy, if I may call it that, and seems to have gone for close of day from the outset, pretty much. My gut tells me that on balance, the Angelus is inescapable enough within the French tradition that Apollinaire would have trouble being unaware of it. He does, after all, put Catholic imagery elsewhere in his art. Now I continue to maintain that his ambiguity - "sonne l'heure" - avoids explicit narrowing to that focus, and Wilbur's choice to narrow that focus is mistaken. But we can agree to disagree, and I think fine points can be made counter to my opinion, as you've indeed done. It's kind of fun to see how one word can generate so much context in translating a simple poem such as this.
I tend to think Gray's curfew bell is a curfew bell. As the French put it, there seems to me no need to "chercher midi a quatorze heures." But I do think your research adds resonance to the line, and not just for Catholics. It's good to know something of the history of bell-ringing in Europe here. I do also like the Irish line about the bell-ringer who's been drinking, the reaction seems apt and true.
And of course, Apollinaire couldn't write his line without Verlaine in mind, at least in my opinion. That poem became a success quite quickly.

Cheers,
John
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  #28  
Unread 08-18-2019, 09:24 PM
Julie Steiner's Avatar
Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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Double-posted. As seems fitting, since I've also double-downed.

Last edited by Julie Steiner; 08-18-2019 at 09:34 PM.
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  #29  
Unread 08-18-2019, 09:31 PM
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Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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Ha! I am forever looking for noon at fourteen o'clock, and forever boring people with things that are not of general interest, and you'll never reform me, John--I'm a lost cause on both counts.

For example, I found this tidbit on the New York Stock Exchange's webpage that describes the history of the bell used to indicate the opening and closing of the stock market:

Quote:
An expert analyzed the sound of the bell for the NYSE’s trademark registration as follows: "The mark consists of the sound of a brass bell tuned to the pitch D, but with an overtone of D-sharp, struck nine times at a brisk tempo, with the final tone allowed to ring until the sound decays naturally. The rhythmic pattern is eight 16th notes and a quarter note; the total duration, from the striking of the first tone to the end of the decay on the final one, is just over 3 seconds."

https://www.nyse.com/bell/history
Wait, nine times at a brisk tempo? Like, say, the second half of the Angelus bell pattern?

SOMEONE CALL DAN BROWN!

But the NYSE opening and closing bell is now rung for much longer than nine peals, or "just over 3 seconds." It now sounds for "approximately ten seconds." The number of peals I counted in a few videos of NYSE closing bells ranged from 53 to 55. It doesn't go as long as an English curfew bell (here's audio from the Curfew Tower at Windsor Castle, which goes on for more than five minutes), but it's still a whole lotta noise.

Apparently, back when the curfew was actually enforced, the curfew might be rung continuously for fifteen minutes, to give people time to get the fire-covering task done before the enforcers made their rounds.

Quote:
In the Articles for the Sexton of Faversham in England it was written of the curfew bell, "Imprimis, the sexton, or his sufficient deputy, shall lye in the church steeple; and at eight o'clock every night shall ring the curfew by the space of a quarter of an hour, with such bell as of old time hath been accustomed."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curfew_bell#History
But unless there is civil unrest that the authorities are trying to manage, sunset seems an awfully early time to force people who need to use every minute of natural light for their labors (e.g., ploughmen) to put out their home fires and go to bed. Very bad for productivity, as a general rule. Since the ploughman in Gray's Elegy isn't even home yet, the poor fellow, I think the curfew bell in the poem is a curfew bell only in the sense of Definition #6 here.

Further evidence that this so-called "curfew bell" is actually just an evening bell: in the tear-jerker "Curfew Must Not Ring To-night" by Rose Hartwick Thorpe, the sexton has this to say about the timing of his duties:

Quote:
“Long, long years I ’ve rung the Curfew from that gloomy, shadowed tower;
Every evening, just at sunset, it has told the twilight hour;
I have done my duty ever, tried to do it just and right,
Now I ’m old I will not falter,—
          Curfew, it must ring to-night.”
Anyway, the point of all this blather has been to say that I think the concept of the curfew and Angelus and New York Stock Exchange bells is exactly the same.

I.e., this isn't simply the tolling of an ordinary hour. It's a great avalanche of noise, marking the end of the day, however that day is defined: the workday (in the case of the Angelus and NYSE bells), or activity (in the case of curfew bell).

TL;DR: The notion of a prolonged racket marking the end of each day has been a part of life for centuries, and it seems possible that this significant "time's up" bell is what both Verlaine and Apollinaire had in mind, rather than the marking of the end of an ordinary hour.

But I wholeheartedly agree that no matter how vigorously I've speculated, all this remains mere speculation.

Last edited by Julie Steiner; 08-18-2019 at 09:38 PM.
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  #30  
Unread 08-18-2019, 11:58 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi Julie,

I think you could also push this line - "with such bell as of old time hath been accustomed" - to suggest that of old time means "back when England was Catholic." I like your point that the curfew at sunset is a weird time for a literal curfew. Surely the fire would be being lit then, not extinguished?
The NYSE is tolling the start of the day, not its ending, as I take it.

Cheers,
John
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