April 20, 2001

Le Ton Beau de Marot

Arrgh. I had completed this entry then lost the whole thing when I tried to submit it. I have attempted to reconstitute it, in Word this time so I still have it if D-Land goes down.

This morning I coxed instead of rowing. Didn't get swapped in as promised, and I can already feel myself turning into jello.

That's not really true, of course. My thighs are still sore from lifting yesterday (weights, not Ted. Get your mind out of the gutter!) and I'll row a single tomorrow, weather permitting. Coxswains are underappreciated, though.

I've begun rereading Le Ton Beau de Marot, by Douglas Hofstadter. Besides being one of my favorite books, it's a collection of translations of a small poem by Clement Marot as well as an excursion into issues relating to translation, poetry, translation of poetry, the nature of language, and machine processing of natural language. It's also a love letter to his wife, who died tragically during the writing of the book.

At one point, I thought Le Ton beau would literally change my life. It was the proximate cause of my deciding to study cognitive science and language, which led to embarking on an MA in Linguistics (the best way to study the fields I wanted at the local university). Unfortunately, when I took my current job, I was unable to manage to take time out for classes, and of course no scheduler ever thinks one might want to take night classes in anything but business or computers. Also, I was learning enough at work to keep the Elephant's Child well-nourished.

In honor of Hofstadter, here's my stab at translating Marot's A Une Damoyselle Malayde, preceded by the original:

Ma mignonne,
Je vous donne
Le bon jour ;
Le séjour
C'est prison.
Puis ouvrez
Votre porte
Et qu'on sorte
Car Clément
Le vous mande.
Va, friande
De ta bouche,
Qui se couche
En danger
Pour manger
Confitures ;
Si tu dures
Trop malade,
Couleur fade
Tu prendras,
Et perdras
Dieu te doint
Santé bonne,
Ma mignonne

Dearest One
Night is done,
Day is here.
Dungeon drear
Is your bed.
From your room,
Come out soon,
Go outdoors
World is yours.
Quickly mend
I, your friend
Tell you so.
Well I know
You like sweets
Time for treats.
Chocolates, tarts,
And candy hearts.
Don’t stay sick
Get well quick.
If you’re still
Feeling ill,
You’ll grow thin,
Lose both chins,
Little friend,
God will send
Health and fun,
Dearest one.

Posted by dichroic at April 20, 2001 02:21 PM
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