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  #1  
Unread 03-29-2020, 12:26 AM
Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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Default Quevedo, spreadin' the spite

Francisco de Quevedo (Spain, 1580-1645)

DRAFT THREE (plus tweaks to L4, L5, L8, and L9)

To a Mercantile Judge

Batino, the laws with which your courtroom deals
you’re less inclined to study than to vend.
They buy you things: that’s all you comprehend.
To you, the Fleece—not Jason*—is what appeals.

Your take on laws of man and God reveals
that whichever you interpret, you offend;
and based on how you tighten or extend
its grasp, your hand’s prepared, when your judgment falls.

You don’t know how to hear a low-cost case,
and only those who give get doubt's benefit:
you’re ruled by contracts, in the law-tracts’ place.

Since bias and bribes are habits you won’t quit,
go wash your hands with Pilate, or unlace
a purse with Judas, and hang yourself with it.


* The Italian jurist Giasone del Maino (1435-1519)—Jasón de Maino in Spanish—wrote widely influential legal commentaries. His legendary namesake Jason led the Argonauts in search of the ram that bore the Golden Fleece.


L4 was:
not Jason*, but the Fleece, is what appeals.
L5 was:
Civil or religious law reveals
L8 was:
its grasp, your hand’s prepared for verdict seals.
Then L8 was:
its grasp, your hand’s prepared the judgment seals.
L9 was:
and only givers receive doubt's benefit:



SPANISH ORIGINAL
AND LITERAL ENGLISH PROSE CRIB

A un juez mercadería
To a merchandise judge (commercial judge)

Las leyes con que juzgas, ¡oh Batino!,
The laws with which you judge, O Batino,
menos bien las estudias que las vendes;
less well do you study them than you sell them;
lo que te compran solamente entiendes;
that which they buy for you [is the] only [thing] you understand;
más que Jasón te agrada el Vellocino.
more than Jason (is), to you is pleasing the Fleece. (The Spanish word for “fleece” does not have the secondary meaning of “fraud” that the English does, so the Spanish just refers to gold.)

El humano derecho y el divino,
The human law and the divine,
cuando los interpretas, los ofendes,
when you interpet them, you offend them,
y al compás que la encoges o la extiendes,
and to the (degree/extent) that you shink it [your hand] or extend it [your hand],
tu mano para el fallo se previno.
your hand for the (outcome/sentence/determination of fault) prepared itself. (The past tense seems rhyme-driven.)

No sabes escuchar ruegos baratos,
You do not know how to listen to cheap pleas,
y sólo quien te da te quita dudas;
and only [from him] who gives to you [do] you remove doubts; (pun—also means: “only [from him] who gives you doubts do you remove doubts”)
no te gobiernan textos, sino tratos.
It is not (legal) texts that govern you, but deals/contracts.

Pues que de intento y de interés no mudas,
Since from intent and (self-)interest you do not move/change,
o lávate las manos con Pilatos,
either wash your hands with Pilate, (I had earlier cribbed this poorly, as the indicative "you either wash your hands with Pilate,")
o, con la bolsa, ahórcate con Judas.
or, with the purse, strangle yourself with Judas.


DRAFT TWO

To a Mercantile Judge

Batino, the laws with which your courtroom deals
you're less disposed to study than to vend.
They buy you things—that’s all you comprehend.
To you, more than to Jason, the Fleece appeals.

Civil or religious, the law reveals
that whichever you interpret, you offend;
and based upon the grasp that you extend
or shrink, your hand prepares the judgment seals.

You don’t know how to hear a low-cost case,
and only those who give, you take from debt.
You’re ruled by contracts, in the law-tracts’ place.

Because it's bias and bribes that you won't quit,
go wash your hands with Pilate, or unlace
a purse with Judas, and hang yourself with it.


* An Italian jurist named Giasone del Maino (1435-1519) wrote widely influential legal commentaries. His legendary namesake Jason led the Argonauts in search of the ram that bore the Golden Fleece.


L2 was:
you do not study, really; more like vend.
L10 was:
and only those who bribe you, you acquit;
LL12-13 were:
Since you won't abandon bias and benefit,
go wash your hands with Pilate, or unlace
Then:
You won't abandon bias and benefit,
so wash your hands with Pilate, or unlace
Then:
Because you keep to bias and benefit,
go wash your hands with Pilate, or unlace



DRAFT ONE

To a Commercial Judge

Batino, the laws with which your courtroom deals
I wouldn’t say you study so much as vend.
They buy you things: that’s all you comprehend.
More than Jason, to you the Fleece appeals.

God’s law or man’s law—either one—reveals
that rules that you interpret, you offend.
“Open-and-shut” describes how you extend
your grasping hand, then fix the judgment seals.

You don’t know how to hear a small-claims case,
and only who requites you, you acquit.
Such contracts govern you, in law tracts’ place.

Since you stay biased toward your benefit,
go wash your hands with Pilate, or unlace
a purse with Judas, and hang yourself with it.


LL12-13 were:
Un-budged from bias and self-benefit,
you wash your hands with Pilate, or unlace

Last edited by Julie Steiner; 04-06-2020 at 12:26 AM. Reason: Draft Three tweaks to L4, L5, L8, and L9 posted
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  #2  
Unread 03-29-2020, 12:53 PM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
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Julie, I am just guessing, since I don't know Spanish, but I think the ending would make a lot more sense if Quevedo is using the imperative "go wash your hands" rather than a simple present tense.

Susan
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Unread 03-29-2020, 01:20 PM
Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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Yes, you're absolutely right! I've just changed it in the crib and in LL12-13 above. Thanks, Susan!

Last edited by Julie Steiner; 03-29-2020 at 01:42 PM.
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Unread 03-29-2020, 03:45 PM
Roger Slater Roger Slater is offline
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If my comments seem silly or miss the mark, forgive me. I did this very quickly and didn't take enough time to vet things with a dictionary. But I hope there's something here of use. (I think I've appeared before Judge Batino, by the way).
Quote:
Originally Posted by Julie Steiner View Post
Francisco de Quevedo (Spain, 1580-1645)

DRAFT ONE (with tweaks to LL12-13)

To a Commercial Judge I can't pin down why mercadería, a noun, is being used as an adjective (unless I'm way off). Are you aware of a term of art for "commercial judge," so it's sort of like a pun on a judge who is corrupt and a judge who hears commercial cases? If not, then I'd suggest you maybe consider giving it a different title, maybe something like "Judge for Sale".

Batino, the laws with which your courtroom deals
I wouldn’t say you study so much as vend. I'm not sure introducing a first-person speaker here is a good idea. You should be able to rephrase to avoid that.
They buy you things: that’s all you comprehend.
More than Jason, to you the Fleece appeals. A bit awkward to omit "to" before "Jason" -- you might prefer to tolerate the slight metrical bump in order to add it.

God’s law or man’s law—either one—reveals Perhaps "either one" is padding
that rules that you interpret, you offend.
“Open-and-shut” describes how you extend In this context, I can't help but think that you are referring to "open and shut cases," which, I take it, is not the meaning intended here. I suspect "previno" isn't a tense error, but the suggestion is that the hand "prepared" for the verdict by accepting a bribe before the verdict was issued.
your grasping hand, then fix the judgment seals.

You don’t know how to hear a small-claims case, I don't think this is referring to "small claims" as in "small claims court" -- I think "barato" here refers to inadequately small bribes for the corrupt judge. I could be wrong, of course.
and only who requites you, you acquit. Maybe "requites" is too stuffy and evasive here. Perhaps "rewards"?
Such contracts govern you, in law tracts’ place. This line seems awkward to me, especially after the comma.

Since you stay biased toward your benefit, Maybe "Since you're the only one you'd benefit"? No, that's a bit awkward. But the way it's phrased now seems less than fluid as well.
go wash your hands with Pilate, or unlace
a purse with Judas, and hang yourself with it.


LL12-13 were:
Un-budged from bias and self-benefit,
you wash your hands with Pilate, or unlace



SPANISH ORIGINAL
AND LITERAL ENGLISH PROSE CRIB

A un juez mercadería
To a merchandise judge (commercial judge)

Las leyes con que juzgas, ¡oh Batino!,
The laws with which you judge, O Batino,
menos bien las estudias que las vendes;
less well do you study them than you sell them;
lo que te compran solamente entiendes;
that which they buy for you [is the] only [thing] you understand;
más que Jasón te agrada el Vellocino.
more than Jason (is), to you is pleasing the Fleece. (The Spanish word for “fleece” does not have the secondary meaning of “fraud” that the English does, so the Spanish just refers to gold.)

El humano derecho y el divino,
The human law and the divine,
cuando los interpretas, los ofendes,
when you interpet them, you offend them,
y al compás que la encoges o la extiendes,
and to the (degree/extent) that you shink it [your hand] or extend it [your hand],
tu mano para el fallo se previno.
your hand for the (outcome/sentence/determination of fault) prepared itself. (The past tense seems rhyme-driven.)

No sabes escuchar ruegos baratos,
You do not know how to listen to cheap pleas,
y sólo quien te da te quita dudas;
and only [from him] who gives to you [do] you remove debts; (pun—also means: “only [from him] who gives you doubts do you remove doubts”)
no te gobiernan textos, sino tratos.
It is not (legal) texts that govern you, but deals/contracts.

Pues que de intento y de interés no mudas,
Since from intent and (self-)interest you do not move/change,
o lávate las manos con Pilatos,
either wash your hands with Pilate, (I had earlier cribbed this poorly, as the indicative "you either wash your hands with Pilate,")
o, con la bolsa, ahórcate con Judas.
or, with the purse, strangle yourself with Judas.

Last edited by Roger Slater; 03-29-2020 at 04:56 PM.
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  #5  
Unread 03-29-2020, 07:24 PM
Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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I forgot to mention that according to Ignacio Arellano (the leading Quevedo authority), the reference to Jason in this poem isn't just to the Jason of Golden Fleece fame, but also to an Italian jurist named Giasone del Maino (1435-1519), who wrote some widely influential legal commentaries. An inside joke for the lawyers of the time, I guess. I should probably include a note on that.

You're right on target with everything, I think, Rogerbob. Thanks. Revision posted above. See what you think.

I've incorporated your other suggestions, but since the preparation described in "previno" is habitual, the present tense makes more sense to me.

"Mercadería" (merchandise, goods) is definitely a noun rather than an adjective. None of the critical sources I've checked, including the illustrious Arellanos, find the juxtaposition of these two nouns ("juez" and "mercadería") without a preposition remarkable, because none have remarked on it. I had originally assumed that it was a term of art, but when I absolutely failed to find any other examples of these two words next to each other, that strongly suggested otherwise. Turning "mercadería" into an adjective is my best guess at how to render the title.
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Unread 03-29-2020, 07:55 PM
Roger Slater Roger Slater is offline
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Great revision! You may be done. It's a very fine translation.
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Unread 03-29-2020, 09:47 PM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
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Good improvements, Julie. S1L2 is a bit awkwardly worded. What about something like "you're less inclined to study than to vend"?

Susan
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Unread 03-29-2020, 10:39 PM
Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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Thank you for the compliments, Rogerbob and Susan! I've got quite the big head now.

Rogerbob, I've gone back and included a footnote explaining the Jason/Giasone joke, the timing of which accounts for the awkward word order in L4.

Susan, thanks very much for your L2 suggestion--I'll take it, with a slight change.

I've fussed with LL12-13 some more. I would prefer "go" to "so" in L13, as Susan sensibly suggested, but putting "since" into L12 makes the meter of L13 too hard to find, I think. I'll sleep on it and will see if I still feel that way in the morning.

[Edited in the morning to say: Nah, the poem really needs the forceful imperative in L13. And I've gone back to Susan's suggestion in L2, also. It just sounds better. I've also changed the title from "To a Commercial Judge" to "To a Mercantile Judge."]

[Edited again--Draft Three posted above. Lots of changes.]

Last edited by Julie Steiner; 03-30-2020 at 01:16 PM.
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Unread 03-30-2020, 03:59 PM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
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Julie, for S1L4 I would suggest something like "more than to Jason, to you the Fleece appeals." The rhythm sounds a bit better with the reversed foot at the beginning of the line, but also I don't buy the interpretation that Quevedo is saying "Jason appeals to you less than the Fleece appeals to you." Despite your note about the famous jurist, I have to think that Quevedo is mainly alluding to myth, and the equation is "Jason wanted the Fleece, but you want it even more."

Susan
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Unread 03-30-2020, 07:45 PM
Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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I hear you. I really wanted to parse the sentence this way, too:

     The Fleece pleases you more than (it pleased) Jason.

But when the direct object is a person, Spanish has a rather maddening (to English speakers) requirement for something called "the personal a" to be placed in front of that direct object.

See the explanation here:
https://www.thoughtco.com/the-person...sition-3078139

Quevedo did not put that personal a in front of "Jasón," and metrically speaking it would not have been any problem for him to do so: thanks to the mandatory elision of adjacent vowels, "más que Jasón" and "más que a Jasón" are identical for the purposes of metrical scansion.

So I'm taking the absence of the personal a as evidence that Quevedo did not intend Jason as a direct object of "pleases," but as a parallel subject of "pleases":

     The Fleece pleases you more than Jason (pleases you).

The word order is wildly shuffled in the original, and I switched from "pleases you" to "appeals to you" because in English "to you" is easier to move before the verb than just plain "you," and I wanted the verb to be in the rhyme position. And now I've lost the "to you," which I might need to get back somehow. But I still think "Jasón" must be nominative like "Fleece," rather than objective like "you."

The context seems reasonable to me, too. After calling out Judge Batino's lack of studiousness in L2 and lack of understanding in L3, I think using L4 to call out his lack of affinity for one of the three most famous authors of legal references (alongside Bartolus and Baldus) makes sense.

Quevedo's contemporary, Lope de Vega (1562-1635), refers to all three of these Italian legal celebrities in his plays. I found several examples when Googling, but I'll give two:

In El alcalde mayor (The Best Mayor), someone recommends a particular lawyer by saying

Quote:
Si alguno en el mundo, aunque resuciten Bártulo, Baldo y Jasón de Maino, os puede dar este pleito, es él, por ser el más raro, único y famoso ingenio que han visto.

If anyone in the world, even if Bartolus, Baldus, and Jason del Maino should rise from the dead, can give (win) you this lawsuit, it is he, by being the most rare, unique, and famous genius that they have ever seen.
In another play, El cuerdo en su casa (The Reasonable Man at Home), a maid asks, “¿Qué dicen los Jasones, Baldos y Bártulos?” ("What say the Jasons, Balduses, and Bartoluses?")

Since this particular "Jason" had entered Spanish pop culture as a proverbial jurist, the reference wouldn't have seemed as recherché then as it does now.

[Edited to say: And now, after all that...maybe I should change things up in that line. It really doesn't flow. I hate to put the Fleece punchline before the Jason setup, but the flow does matter....]

Last edited by Julie Steiner; 03-30-2020 at 10:08 PM.
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