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Old 04-26-2017, 01:02 AM
William A. Baurle William A. Baurle is offline
Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: Arizona, USA
Posts: 1,844

Thanks, John, you're a treasure-trove of knowledge. I'm beginning to wonder if there's anything you don't know?

I'm still wondering about the "sheath" bit. I just went to Google Translate to find the Latin word for sheath. I got: vagina sua:. Then I swapped, to get the English word for vagina sua without the colon, and got scabbard.

I will think more about the poem.


I ran the Ronsard poems through the Google machine, so I could see the literal English, and hear the French. I have astounding difficulty with French. The sounds come out of my speakers, and I can barely follow along, trying to match sounds to letters. With Latin or German I don't have this kind of difficulty, though I have a little trouble with Spanish. But alas, I am deaf, dumb and blind to French, it appears.

My great loss, as I would so love to read Baudelaire in the original, not to mention Balzac, Proust, Rimbaud, Verlaine, the list goes on...
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Old 04-26-2017, 01:15 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: TX
Posts: 1,599

Hi Bill,

To my mind a sheath is for a knife, a scabbard for a sword, but they are in essence the same thing. Yes, i suspect - it's my hunch - that the young Pound found it worthwhile to juxtapose sheath with virginal, to make some sort of complicated pun. The word sheath seems overdetermined to me. It also makes me think of Shakespeare's "Whate'er thou hast, thou hast thy will."
When Byron writes "For the sword outwears the sheath", I don't think he is punning. But then i like that poem.
Baudelaire translated Poe. I think he has a tremendous ear, and I agree, it is a shame not to get to see him in the French. But I also agree, French is in some ways harder than German is.

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Old 04-26-2017, 06:09 PM
Woody Long's Avatar
Woody Long Woody Long is offline
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: Arlington, Virginia
Posts: 1,268

I think Death and the Maiden is the standard interpretation of Piazza Piece. The play of that against stereotypical southern gentility is for me the major driver of the poem's effect.

The image of Death as a southern gentleman in a dustcoat is a beauty. It reminds me of the legendary (& perhaps historical) mystery man who politely assisted women in jumping from the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, 1911, here.

— Woody
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Old 04-26-2017, 11:23 PM
William A. Baurle William A. Baurle is offline
Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: Arizona, USA
Posts: 1,844


I've been hunting for poems about older men wooing young beauties, and have found a few. This one is by a contemporary of Shakespeare, but it is one of what looks like a long series, and may be read in a different light if put in context. I assume 'decade' means the same as 'decad'. This version is punctuated differently than the one appearing in the anthology I found it in, Six Centuries of Great Poetry, edited by Robert Penn Warren and Albert Erskine.

I imagine L8 and L12 would irritate the crap out of me, were I the addressee. Unless the word "relieve" meant something else in that period?

The Fourth Decade
Sonnet X. Hope, like the hyśna, coming to be old

Hope, like the hyśna, coming to be old,
Alters his shape; is turned into Despair.
Pity my hoary hopes! Maid of Clear Mould!
Think not that frowns can ever make thee fair!
What harm is it to kiss, to laugh, to play?
Beautyís no blossom, if it be not used.
Sweet dalliance keeps the wrinkles long away:
Repentance follows them that have refused.
To bring you to the knowledge of your good
I seek, I sue. O try, and then believe!
Each image can be chaste thatís carved of wood.
You show you live, when men you do relieve.
Iron with wearing shines. Rust wasteth treasure
On earth, but love there is no other pleasure.

ó Henry Constable


I like the following poem a great deal better. I prefer it because the mature poet is admitting to having unseemly and inappropriate desires for youthful beauty, plus it's realistic and self-effacing, which is right up my poetic alley:

The Vision

Sitting alone, as one forsook,
Close by a silver-shedding brook,
With hands held up to love, I wept;
And after sorrows spent I slept:
Then in a vision I did see
A glorious form appear to me:
A virgin's face she had; her dress
Was like a sprightly Spartaness.
A silver bow, with green silk strung,
Down from her comely shoulders hung:
And as she stood, the wanton air
Dangled the ringlets of her hair.
Her legs were such Diana shows
When, tucked up, she a-hunting goes;
With buskins shortened to descry
The happy dawning of her thigh:
Which when I saw, I made access
To kiss that tempting nakedness:
But she forbade me with a wand
Of myrtle she had in her hand:
And, chiding me, said: Hence, remove,
Herrick, thou art too coarse to love.

ó Robert Herrick
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