Originally Posted by John Isbell
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?
Don't forget that the busy housewife would have been cooking on that fire for most of the day.
The NYSE is tolling the start of the day, not its ending, as I take it.
I'm not sure how literal you're being, but there are video clips of both the NYSE opening (9:30am EDT) and closing (4pm EDT) bells at https://livestream.com/NYSE
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Overall, I agree with Cathy's assessment of the group of translations, and also your assessments, John. The more I read others' attempts, the better Richard Wilbur's translation looks to me.
Like Cathy, I found interesting and admirable things going on in all of them--even in Seidel's, which surprised me--and also in all of them, I found other things that I either mildly disliked or downright loathed--which did not surprise me at all in Seidel's case. (Every Seidel poem I've ever read conveys the same message: "Behold, nothing is sacred to me! Have I shocked you yet?") At first I found Seidel's liberties with the original text fresh and creative, but then the whole exercise started to look less and less about honoring the beauty of the original, and more and more about Seidel wanting me to watch how cleverly he could doodle a mustache on the Mona Lisa. Meh.
I would put X.J. Kennedy's translation as my second favorite, because I like some of his turns of phrase very much. But the narrator's tone seems quite different from the original. It strikes me as almost flippantly nonchalant. I prefer poignancy.
website uses Donald Revell's translation, "Mirabeau Bridge."
The night is a clock chiming
The days go by not I
Ummm...no. Just no.