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  #1  
Unread 08-01-2019, 02:08 PM
Andrew Szilvasy Andrew Szilvasy is offline
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Default Andrzej Krzycki

When from his gaping cavern at the city’s fringe,
.......the dragon devoured everything he could,
who is surprised that, ceded total sovereignty,
.......he eats all day, forever unfulfilled?

***
Edits
L1: "living in his lair" --> "from his gaping cavern"; "lip" --> "fringe"
L3: "seated in the city's summit" --> "ceded complete sovereignty"; "complete" --> "total"
***
In Serpentem Bonae, Reginae Poloniae

Si sub rupe draco conclusus hiante caverna
.......Urbis, Cracce, tuae magna vorago fuit,
Quid mirum quod, in arce sedens rerumque potitus
.......Solus inexpleto viscere cuncta vorat?

Crib

If confined within his yawning cavern at the foot of the cliff,
the dragon was a great devourer of your city, Krakus,
what is the surprise that, seated in the citadel and having obtained the government
alone, he devours all things, with his stomach being unfilled?

Notes

Andrzej Krzycki was a Polish humanist who studied in Italy. This particular poem is from his Carmina Satirica and I'm reading it out of the wonderful French anthology Musae Reduces which notes that the "Serpens Bonae" was Bona Sforza. It also notes that Krakus is the legendary founder of Kraków.

I obviously lost both the connection to Sforza and Krakus, but I think that's worth it for the effect of the poem. The translation is somewhat loose, but I tried to get general sense and to bring across Krzycki's use of soundplay (really his consonance/alliteration) across.

I don't have a title I like yet. My thought was "The City and the Dragon," but I like the delay of Dragon until the second line.

Last edited by Andrew Szilvasy; 08-06-2019 at 01:24 PM.
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  #2  
Unread 08-01-2019, 07:39 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi Andrew,

I think your English here has a lot to like about it. However, following along in the Latin, I'd likely call this an imitation, not a translation. Thanks for the introduction to this little piece.

Cheers,
John
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  #3  
Unread 08-01-2019, 08:14 PM
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AZ Foreman AZ Foreman is offline
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I'm not sure "seated in the city's summit" really gets across the basic idea of "in arce sedens rerumque potitus". The idiom rerum potiri really means "to have supreme power" of any kind. And in arce sedens, though it literally means "sitting in the citadel" is another well-worn phrase for political power, more or less equivalent to "sitting on the throne" or "wearing the crown" in English. "Seated in the city's summit" is nicely alliterative, but I think the idea Krzycki is trying to convey — that the dragon is now absolute ruler, and indeed queen — is lost in the shuffle a bit. The poem is a political jab, and so the political flavor of the phrasing seems very much to the point. I get the impulse to convey the sense of "summit"="arx", as contrasted with "sub rupe". But I wonder if there's a more effective way to handle the thought in English that still preserves a flavor of height.

Also it's worth noting that vorago is most commonly a deep abyss, a gulf which Charybdis-like swallows things up. This in turn links up with how the caverna is hians. So you have the dragon going from being in the gaping abyss to becoming it. I wonder if that couldn't be worked in somehow.

Last edited by AZ Foreman; 08-01-2019 at 08:29 PM.
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  #4  
Unread 08-03-2019, 09:05 AM
Andrew Szilvasy Andrew Szilvasy is offline
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Thanks John and AZ. I tried to address the concerns without losing fluency.

John: You're right that it is more an imitation, though I wonder if this new one gets closer, though still dropping Krakus and Princess Bona.

AZ: Though I had hoped "summit" might carry enough of the governmental implications to make it work with the high/low bit, perhaps it doesn't. I got closer without losing much in the way of alliteration. I did lose a little of the off-rhyme I was playing with, but it might be worth it.

In the opening line I tried to bring out more the aspects of the mouth I liked in the Latin but didn't bring into the English. In losing the alliteration on the "l" I decided "fringe" has enough political connotations that it might be an upgrade over "lip" (which I hoped would get the imager of the mouth...but it is, as you said, the lair not the city, that is the mouth).
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Unread 08-06-2019, 01:24 PM
Andrew Szilvasy Andrew Szilvasy is offline
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I made another edit because the meter in L3 was bothering me.
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  #6  
Unread 08-11-2019, 11:02 PM
Jake Sheff Jake Sheff is offline
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Andrew,

It seems like the main theme of the little poem is "power is insatiable."

I think your translation right now loses something by swapping "gaping" for "yawning." "Yawning" can also suggest the boredom which contributes to the insatiability of power.

I think by removing "Krakus," by not addressing a person, it loses the charm of Latin poems that do so.

Your current version is superior to the crib version as an English poem. And I like the surreptitious rhyme of "could" and "unfulfilled."

To make a successful English poem, I'd suggest trimming, even if it begins failing to mirror the original aurally. It reads a tad prolix now.

When from his yawning cavern at the city’s fringe,
.......the dragon ate whatever he saw,
does it surprise you, Krakus, that, as king,
.......he eats all day, forever hungry?

I think you could play with it and the material is great. The version you have so far is strong, but could be shaped into a better English poem without losing the spirit and intent of the original. It seems like the original is almost like a Martial epigram, but also a sort of fable or parable.

I hope this is helpful, Andrew.

Best,
Jake
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  #7  
Unread 08-12-2019, 08:51 AM
Julie Steiner's Avatar
Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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To a Latin-reading audience, the formal requirements of elegiac couplets immediately communicated THIS IS A POEM, AND WHAT'S MORE, IT'S A FUNNY, WITTY POEM.

In English, the equivalent vehicles for this sort of witticism are the limerick and the double dactyl. (Or, in a pinch, rhymed couplets, as Pope used. But I prefer the limerick and the double dactyl.)

Alternating lines of iambic hexameter and iambic pentameter just don't get the job done in English, whether or not they are rhymed. And metrically, the heavily-substituted, quantity-rather-than-stress-based Latin "hexameter" and "pentameter" lines were doing something quite different from iambs, anyway. The elegiac "pentameter" is actually two units of 2.5 feet, presented in a way that makes the first half chime with the second half. Iambic pentameter doesn't do that.

To repeat: I would strongly encourage you to do something more energetic with the form.

And I think you should also try to keep the connection between the legendary dragon that Krakus slayed by feeding it a sulphur-filled sheep and the man-swallowing dragons in the Sforza coat of arms. (I followed your Wikipedia links, so I'm an expert now.) That's the point of the joke here, I think.

Last edited by Julie Steiner; 08-12-2019 at 08:54 AM.
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  #8  
Unread 08-12-2019, 09:24 PM
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AZ Foreman AZ Foreman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Julie Steiner View Post
To a Latin-reading audience, the formal requirements of elegiac couplets immediately communicated THIS IS A POEM, AND WHAT'S MORE, IT'S A FUNNY, WITTY POEM.

In English, the equivalent vehicles for this sort of witticism are the limerick and the double dactyl. (Or, in a pinch, rhymed couplets, as Pope used. But I prefer the limerick and the double dactyl.)
I don't think this is all that true. Brief poems in elegiac couplets even in antiquity could be anything from touchingly tragic (Martial 5:34) to harsh stoic cliché ("omnia tempus edax" attributed to Seneca) to the amorously mad (Catullus 75) to the raunchy and bawdy. Longer poems in elegiacs are if anything associated with the love elegy tradition one way or another. In the Middle Ages, elegiacs lose their genre-restricitons even further, and readily show up in miniature epic, and even dramatic comedy. By the Renaissance, I very much doubt there were any thematic expectations associated with elegiac couplets specifically, apart from a sense that it was more appropriate than hexameters are for shorter material. (And shorter material tends to be epigrammatic, at least in the broadest sense.) It's true that witticisms like this would normally be expressed in elegiacs when they're this short. They're a go-to for epigrammatic wit. But beyond brevity, and perhaps non-epic quality, I don't think much else is to be necessarily read into the form.

All that being said, yes, this does seem like the kind of poem that — in English — would express itself in limerick or in chipper ballad meter or something else in the vein of "light verse". Whether an English translation of a Renaissance Latin poem need necessarily express itself in that manner is another question.

Last edited by AZ Foreman; 08-12-2019 at 09:29 PM.
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  #9  
Unread 08-15-2019, 02:01 PM
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Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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Thanks, Alex. You're right, my pronouncement was far too general.
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