Thursday, September 14, 2017

Thoughts on translation, part 9.10: Tell her about it !

Song of Solomon: timeless love poetry in contemporary calligraphy. 
Topic Ten.  Some of the declarations of love in Song of Songs must have been lyrical and dramatic to start with, but translation has made them sound limp and anemic, or even negative.  In Alexander Pope's words, they are damning with faint praise, not the kind of exhilaration that a lover longs to hear.  Today's young woman just won''t be thrilled to hear herself described as "fair."

I looked for translations that would convey the heat of heartfelt love:

VII: 6  “How fair and how pleasant art thou” sounds better rendered as "Oh, how beautiful you are!"  
II: 14  “Thy countenance is comely” seems both impersonal and tepid.  Why not try, "You are beautiful."  
Detail from IV: 7
IV: 7  “Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee” seems like very faint praise compared to "You are perfect, my beloved: there is no flaw in you," as shown here at right.  

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful. I am really enjoying this series. Thank you for sharing.