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Old 11-24-2011, 08:46 AM
Lance Levens Lance Levens is offline
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Default DISC: An exemplary piece of translation workshopping: Jean de la Ceppede

Lance and I thought that the rich and varied discussion in this thread would make a nice exemplum. New arrivals at translation might find it of interest as a sample of how things work here. There's an infinity of ways a thread can develop, of course, and this one is unusual in generating new versions, but it shows a lot of our best qualities as a forum.

Jean de la Ceppede

Rev. #4

The conquering monarch has his blazonry
of red, as is his due; this conquering king
wears these soldiers' mantle, rendering
a glorious prince, enobled by mockery.

O purple, may you so enfold my head
that as your meaning soaks me through and through,
a thousand tears pour forth that will imbue
these Carmelites with streams of tearful red.

Your bloody hue shows our iniquity
born by this Lamb the Father hither led .
This Christ who wears you bears our penalty.

O Christ! O Holy Lamb! Conceal my red
sins (twigs that stoke the fires of eternity)
in the folds of this mantle where your flesh has bled


Rev. #3

The conquering monarch has his blazonry
of red, as is his due; this conquering king
these soldiers buffoon in a mantle, rendering
a glorious prince, enobled by mockery.

O purple, may you so enfold my head
that as your meaning soaks me through and through,
a thousand tears pour forth that will imbue
these Carmelites with streams of tearful red.

Your bloody hue shows the iniquity
this Lamb bears from our Father at our origin.
This Christ who wears you bears our penalty.

O Christ! O Holy Lamb! Hide my red sin
(the branched abyss that marks my heraldry)
in this bloody mantle that has become your skin


Rev. # 2

The conquering monarch has his blazonry
of red, as is his due; this conquering king
wears a coat the soldiers mock, fashioning
a glorious prince--because of such mockery.

O purple, may you so enfold my head
that as your meaning soaks me through and through,
a thousand tears pour forth that will imbue
these Carmelites with streams of tearful red.

Your bloody hue reveals our iniquity
the Father has attached to this Lamb’s side:
This Christ who wears you bears our penalty.

O Christ! O Holy Lamb! I beg you, hide
my red sins (branched abyss that speaks to me)
in this bloody coat that has become your side.



Rev. #1

The monarch’s conquest shows as evidence
a crimson coat of arms. This conquering king
is dressed by weaponed mockers in a covering
that marks him as both glorious and prince.

O purple, may you so enfold my head
that as your meaning soaks me through and through,
a thousand tears pour forth that will imbue
these Carmelites with streams of tearful red.

Your bloody hues show our iniquity
as you lie across this Lamb the Father chose:
And this Christ who bears you bears our penalty.

O Christ! O Holy Lamb! I beg you, enclose
my crimson sins (branched abyss of heraldry)
within your bloody cloak, your enfleshed repose.


Original

Conquering monarchs vaunt as evidence
a coat of arms that’s red; this conquering king
is mantled by his mockery--a just thing,
it tells the world that he’s a glorious prince.

O purple, with your precious law enfold
my head and summon myriads of tears
to bathe these Carmelites with my ancestors’ years
as I take in the mysteries you hold.

Sin, our sin, colors you in bloody writ,
lines on the Lamb’s back, lines the Father made.
Thus, Christ is charged with crimes that we commit.

O Christ! O Holy Lamb! May my sins be laid
(a branched abyss) where they are never fit:
within your mantle, flesh that we have flayed.

******************************************


The red coat of arms befits a conquering monarch.
This victorious king is clothed appropriately
in a mockish coat of arms,
a mantle that makes him a prince and glorious.

O purple, enfold my head with your precious law
and bid it give forth a thousand tears,
so that as I meditate on your mysterious meaning
I bathe these Carmelites in tears of my own blood line.

Your bloody color figures our sins
the Father fixed to the back of the Lamb
and Christ bearing them is charged with our crimes.

O Christ! O Holy Lamb! deign to hide
all my red sins ( a branched abyss)
in the bloody folds of your robe of flesh




****************************************

Aux monarques vainqueurs la rouge cotte d'armes
Appartient justement. Ce roi victorieux
Est justement vêtu par ces moqueurs gens d'armes
D'un manteau, qui le marque et prince, et glorieux.

Ô pourpre, emplis mon test, de ton jus précieux
Et lui fais distiller mille pourprines larmes,
À tant que méditant ton sens mystérieux,
Du sang trait de mes yeux j'ensanglante ces carmes.

Ta sanglante couleur figure nos péchés
Au dos de cet Agneau par le Père attachés :
Et ce Christ t'endossant se charge de nos crimes.

Ô Christ, ô saint Agneau, daigne-toi de cacher
Tous mes rouges péchés (brindelles des abîmes)
Dans les sanglants replis du manteau de ta chair.

Last edited by Adam Elgar; 11-07-2012 at 02:22 AM.
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Old 11-24-2011, 01:53 PM
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Chris Childers Chris Childers is offline
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Hi Lance, an interesting poem. Unfortunately, I think your version needs quite a lot of work.

The first stanza is rough. "Vaunt as evidence" is strained both because it is elliptical (viz. "vaunt as evidence" [of their conquering]) & because it is not in the French, which only says that such a coat "justly belongs" to the conquering monarch. "That's red" in l.2 strikes me as awkward--why not "a crimson coat of arms" or "a blood-red coat of arms"? "Mantled by his mockery" is too vague; because "mockery" is abstract, it makes "mantled" sound metaphorical, or alternatively, one could feel that the coat of arms is a mockery (i.e., the object of mockery) rather than mocking others, when what the French says (I think) is that embroidered on the mantle are mocking men-at-arms (gens d'armes)--presumably mocking first their defeated enemies and second (perhaps) the vainglory of the king. I think you need to phrase this in a more specific, grounded way for it to be clear. "A just thing" at the end of the line has the opposite problem; it sounds too specific, as if the "mockery" is in fact a Just Thing. Without the French I wouldn't know that you intend the general sense of "justly."

I've thought hard about the second quatrain, where we differ pretty widely on the prose meaning of the French. Given the arc of the entire poem, 'pourpre' has to refer to more or less the same color as 'rouge' in Q1; it's a travesty to translate it "purple." Here is my take on the prose meaning of Q2:

Quote:
O Crimson, fill (/bathe?) my head in your precious fluid (?), and make it [my head, presumably] distill/drip/pour out a thousand crimson tears, so that, while meditating on your mysterious meaning, I bloody these Carmelites with the blood drawn from my eyes.
I have been wondering about those Carmelites; I suppose we are to imagine him in a monastery, meditating over images of the wounded Christ, & wishing that he might weep blood upon the poor attendant friars. In any event, the context is too sanguinary to read 'jus' as law (Latin ius as you'll know means both law and soup, and gives us not only jurisprudence but also fruit juice and roast beef au jus). I can't find "blood line" or "ancestors" in the French, though that could be my own failure. About your verse I'll only add that line 7 is 6 beats.

You mostly get back on track in the sestet, but the meaning is still a bit deformed in line 9. Presumably the "you" there is still "purple"--your line seems to mean that 'our sin makes purple look bloody,' which doesn't make sense to me; the French meaning is "your bloody color represents our sins." Line 10 is great. Line 11 is good too, although I wonder whether "se charge" in the French means something more like "loads himself" rather than "is charged," i.e., 'charged' in the sense of "the world is charged with the grandeur of God." Also, doesn't "t'endossant" mean "taking you on his back," where "you" refers to the color crimson, but also the weight of the world's sin?

The last half of the sestet is very rhyme-forced. First of all, after all this about color the sins have got to be "red"--that's non-negotiable. I am interested in the "branches of the abyss," mainly because 'des abimes' is plural in the French--I wonder what that signifies? The branches seem to be the red lines criss-crossing Christ's beaten back, but how does the abyss figure in? Hmm, I guess it has to do with where sin leads you, but I don't fully understand. Anyway, "be laid where they are never fit" is an ungainly and inadequate periphrasis for "hide." In the last line, Christ's flesh is being compared to a mantle, in whose bloody folds the poet wants to hide his sins, tying back into the first stanza's imagery. Unfortunately, the appositive in your version does not make that clear, while "we have flayed" is problematic on a couple levels; first, because the poet never explicitly lumps himself in with Christ's torturers, and second, because "flaying" means to cut the skin off, not merely to bloody it with a whip.

Well, interesting poem, that reminds me of Donne's holy sonnets, #4 in particular. I hope these comments are helpful, and that I haven't butchered anything. Best of luck with it,

Chris

Edit: I have just realized that the king in Q1 has got to be Christ. Never said I wasn't slow, but I get there eventually...
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Old 11-24-2011, 11:58 PM
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Don Jones Don Jones is offline
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Hi Lance,

I love this poem. And it's not easy to render into verse though I'm more than confident that you can and will do so.

Here’s my take on this wonderful poem, which might help you sort out some issues of clarity.

Following Chris, purple could be seen to represent arterial blood, which is purplish red or crimson. De la Ceppede’s use of color here is striking and intensely visual, almost like a painting by El Greco, the poet’s contemporary. I think your translation should reflect this vividness. Currently, it is entirely too bloodless to work.

However, there does seem to be a difference between the “rouge” of the coats of arms (“la rouge cottes d’armes”) as well as the redness of sins (“rouges péchés”) and the color crimson. The "rouge" of the coat of arms belongs "appartient" to conquering monarchs, men of power, of this world.

In contrast, “pourpre,” addressed directly over two stanzas, while a variation of red in terms of color, refers only to Christ’s blood. Perhaps it is a kind of Christianized “ichor.” If that goes too far, de la Ceppede indicates “purple” as something different from “red,” in kind if not in hue.

The “gens d’armes” I take to be the mocking soldiers, who killed Christ after they flogged him and gave him a mantle to wear by which, along with the crown of thorns, he is “mocked” as King of the Jews. You have "coat of arms" twice in S1 of your crib.

Thus,

… Ce roi victorieux
Est justement vêtu par ces moqueurs gens d'armes
D'un manteau, qui le marque et prince, et glorieux.

becomes in my prose translation:

“This victorious king by these mocking soldiers is justly dressed with a mantle that marks him a glorious prince.”

One could also replicate de la Ceppede's striking tmesis with "mark him both prince and glorious."

“Justly” seems appropriate for “justement” because for Christ, not of this world but in it, such a worldly and cruel punishment, though perverse, is just in its way. Since, for believers, the Passion is a part of God’s plan (“par le Père”) for the remission of sins, it is only appropriate that the world of sin mocks and tortures Christ. In this sense, Christ is being "justly" dressed in a bloody mantel by the mocking soldiers.

Perhaps de la Ceppede is inverting the idea of a coat of arms, which is developed in the S4. For Christ, his “escutcheon,” if you will, is his back, which we must assume is drenched in blood after his flogging, and like the monarch’s coat of arms, is also a kind of dark red (crimson) surface or field, but it is one very much different from that worldly red of conquering rulers.

As developed in S4, the French “abimes” like the English “abysses” refers in heraldry to the very center of the shield of a coat of arms. This might tie in nicely with Chris’ observation of sticks/branches (brindelles/brindilles) as a metonym for red lashes across Christ’s bloody back with the "abysses” as the center of an escutcheon. I believe this idea is worth an examination.

Stanza 2 is very striking. The narrator asks purple/crimson to fill his head with its essence to such a degree that it comes out of his eyes onto his beloved Carmelites. For a Christian believer like de la Ceppede, or his other contemporary St. John of the Cross, it would be a blessing to be drenched in the blood of Christ—and not just metaphorically as in this poem!

My overall suggestion is to make this poem as carnal in its import as the original. We need something more graphic. After all, we are talkin’ ‘bout de body ‘n de blood. Make it bleed!

In any case, Lance, I await your revised translation of this poem. I thank you for turning me on to this poet.

Don
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Old 11-25-2011, 08:44 AM
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Chris Childers Chris Childers is offline
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Hey Don, thanks for that, especially about the gens d'armes in Q1 and the abyss from heraldry, which is clearly the primary meaning at the end. I think you're right that 'pourpre' needs to be rendered in a different word from 'rouge' in the English, but I just don't think 'purple' has the right connotations. Purple blood just doesn't seem right to me; crimson has to be the way to go.

Hrm, I just wrote the wrong thing and cut it out. The brindelles des abimes--how could that belong to Christ? It sounds like it is in apposition to rouge péchés. It must suggest the poet's own sinful coat of arms, not unlike but less noble than the rivers of blood on Christ's back, which he is asking Christ to cover with his own bloody mantle. This gives point to the pun on 'abimes,' as sins are certainly the work of Hell (the abyss) as much as the escutcheon marking the poet's sinfulness.

Chris
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Old 11-25-2011, 09:02 AM
Lance Levens Lance Levens is offline
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Don and Chris,

Thanks so much for such an in-depth read. The heraldry facts particularly are a huge help for the total meaning. Likewise, the blood from the eyes is a road I started down but backed away from because it seemed OTT. Now I'm beginning to think you're correct, Don. BTW La Ceppede was not only a contemporary of St. Juan de la Cruz, but was a also cousins with St. Theresa of Avila whose family name was Ceppeda. So back to the drawing boards and more blood. I'll post a revision soon.
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Old 11-25-2011, 09:15 AM
Adam Elgar Adam Elgar is offline
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More fine Ceppede, Lance, and a strong start to translating a difficult poem. We're all very grateful for your introducing us to him.

To show that the mantlers are the mocking soldiers, Line 3 could become
“is mantled by his mockers--a just thing,”
This also regularizes the metre.

In line 4 I’d suggest trying to keep some of the pounding force of “both... and ...”
Reading glorious as two syllables you could have
“it tells the world he’s glorious, and a prince.” Would that work for you?

For the vexatious “purple” could you have “blood-red”?

I think we have to take “jus” as literally as we do on French menus. He may be punning on “ius” but I think, like Don, that you need to emphasise the gore. The subject is precious juice.

Line 8 is a problem. I don’t think there can be any Carmelites here. Why would they be lower case? Though I’m at a loss to define “carmes” any other way. The poet will drench the “carmes” in blood drawn from his eyes. I don’t see a reference to ancestors or time.

Brilliant note by Don about heraldry – I’d never have got that.
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Old 11-25-2011, 09:37 AM
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Yes, Chris, you are right. How could it be that the lashes from sticks on Christ's back be his coat of arms? Of course...it's our shame and sin that are on display across his back. It is the sinners', the narrator's, coat of arms. Good call. Thanks.

You're welcome, Lance. Great detail on what a small world de la Ceppede lived in.

Don
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Old 11-25-2011, 01:39 PM
Adam Elgar Adam Elgar is offline
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I cross posted with Lance.
That's a fascinating detail about St Teresa. I had no idea.
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Old 11-25-2011, 05:18 PM
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About that "carmes."

Lance, you may have to ferret this out through other resources but I often use this, which you may already know about.

It has four separate entries for "carmes." The first is Carmelite as you translated it and it can be found in lower case:

"Eau (de mélisse) des carmes. Alcoolat de mélisse composé, dont l'invention est attribuée aux carmes." Emphasis added.

"Water (of bee-balm) of the Carmelites. A medicinal concoction (made from alcohol) composed of bee-balm, the invention of which is attributed to the Carmelites."

The second entry is "a loaf of white bread" or "miche de pain blanc."

The third relates to dice:

"Coup où l'un et l'autre des deux dés donne quatre."

"A toss where one and another of two dice come out to four." The score is therefore eight.

The fourth and last is from the Latin "carmen":

"Composition en vers, poésie."

Of these four I believe that you chose the correct definition. I don't know how much research you've done on Jean de la Ceppede but it would be important to see why he favors the Carmelites as he seems to demonstrate, if rather bizarrely, in his poem. I mean, why not the Franciscans?

Good luck,

Don
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Old 11-25-2011, 08:11 PM
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I'm no expert on this poet, but the demonstratives seem telling. Ce roi victorieux and ces moqueurs gens d'armes (and later, cet Agneau and ce Christ) seem to indicate that he is meditating on a picture from the passion which is right there in front of him; along these lines, ces carmes would seem to suggest that he is doing so in a Carmelite monastery, among monks, which makes me read this poem as a kind of dramatic monologue: the poet as one face among many kneeling in a pew, silently mouthing this prayer, wishing to drench his fellow-worshipers with blood-colored tears. (Okay, that last bit is a little weird.) Anyway, as to why Carmelites, rather than Franciscans (say), two rather unsatisfactory answers spring to mind: 1. He was actually in a Carmelite church, or 2. convenient rhyme with 'armes' and 'larmes.' It would help if this were part of a sequence where Carmelites were mentioned in other poems as well.

Chris
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