…De cent accords plus doux que ceux d’une Sirene

From Joachim du Bellay’s Un Songe ou Vision (12):

Je vy sourdre d’un roc une vive Fonteine,
Claire comme crystal aux rayons de soleil,
Et jaunissant au fond d’un sablon tout pareil
A celuy que Pactol’ roule parmy la plaine.

 sembloit que nature et l’art eussent pris peine
D’assembler en un lieu tous les plaisirs de l’œil :
Et  s’oyoit un bruit incitant au sommeil,
De cent accords plus doux que ceux d’une Sirene.

Les sieges et relais luisoient d’ivoire blanc,
Et cent Nymphes autour se tenoient flanc à flanc,
Quand des monts plus prochains de Faunes une suyte

En effroyables cris sur le lieu s’assembla,
Qui de ses villains pieds la belle onde troubla,
Mist les sieges par terreet les Nymphes en fuite

Mine is the Helgerson bilingual edition, which I finally bought a personal copy of since the university one has been quarantined in my office since mid-March.  His translations are fine but clearly there as cribs for the facing text so I won’t take the time to type it out.

Do you want to know, Duthier, what sort of place Rome is?

From Joachim du Bellay’s Les Regrets (no. 82).  The poem itself is standard Horace/Persius/Juvenal satire remade but came to mind today when a colleague sent – together with some accusatory innuendo – the below pictures of our library’s copy of the David Slavitt ‘translation’ of the collection.  I had forgotten but several years ago I was looking this up for some reason and got so enraged at his facing translation that I defaced several pages with my own spur of the moment versions.  I remain convinced I was in the right, if only to warn any future readers.  But I also enjoy the pure absurdity of it.

First is the Richard Helgerson translation:

Do you want to know, Duthier, what sort of place Rome is?  Rome is a public scaffold for all the world, a stage, a theater, where nothing is lacking that men can do.

Here we see the game of Fortune and how her hand keeps us turning, now down, now up.  Here everyone shows himself and cannot, however cunning he may be, prevent the populace from calling him what he is.

Here rumor spreads quickly, whether false or true.  Here courtiers make love and pay court.  Here ambition and trickery about.

Here freedom makes the lowborn man bold.  Here idleness makes the good man vicious.  Here the base porter holds forth on worldly affairs.

Now the original:

Veuls-tu sçavoir (Duthier) quelle chose c’est Rome?
Rome est de tout le monde un publique eschafault,
Une scene, un theatre, auquel rien ne default
De ce qui peult tomber es actions de l’homme.
Icy se void le jeu de la Fortune, et comme
Sa main nous fait tourner ores bas, ores haut:
Icy chacun se monstre, et ne peult, tant soit caut,
Faire que tel qu’il est, le peuple ne le nomme.
Icy du faulx et vray la messagere court,
Icy les courtisans font l’amour et la court,
Icy l’ambition, et la finesse abonde:
Icy la liberté fait l’humble audacieux,
Icy l’oysiveté rend le bon vicieux,
Icy le vil faquin discourt des faicts du monde.

Now the absurdity: