Ceija Stojka: "I do not want to live through another war" (From German)

You were probably expecting me to translate another Yiddish poem for April 16th. I'm not. Even in remembrance of the Jewish Holocaust, it is important not to forget that Jews were not the only victims of a Nazi genocide. Today's poem is by the Austrian-Romani poet Ceija Stojka, a survivor of the Nazi Holocaust - specifically of the Nazi genocide against the Roma. (I had wanted to try my hand at translating a Romani poem, but my reading knowledge of the language is still too shaky to attempt it, so I'm going with a Rom who wrote in German instead.) 

My translation of this poem is freer than modern translation aesthetics would normally allow. But the subtle wordplay and soundplay of which Stojka was a master seemed to call out for some license. 

A collection of all my translations of poetry relating to the Holocaust can be found here . 

This translation is also dedicated to the Romani writer and blogger Qristina Zavačková whose eloquent voice has taught me much that I would otherwise have been clueless about, and whose dedication to - and concern for - the voices of others less audible, deserves a salute from the entire internet. Her site can be found here.

"I do not want to live through another war"
By Ceija Stojka
Translated by A.Z. Foreman
I do not want to go through another war,
So there shouldn't be any more.
I have survived too many chills,
I have seen mothers weep.
To those poor people, a war can bring
But pain and suffering
That others do not know about.
They don't want to know a thing
As they aren't really suffering.
War is always nearer the enemy,
Spreads sorrow on both sides.
War is breaker of hearts
And carnivore of flesh.
War feasts on flesh that tastes so good
Topped off with a dessert of blood.
The Homeless number more and more
Then are scattered across the world and aimless
As their dead on the field
Lie nameless.
Therefore, dear God, let there be not
Another war.
For only then can we all happily
Live evermore.

The Original:

"Ich möchte keinen Krieg mehr erleben"
Ceija Stojka

Ich möchte keinen Krieg mehr erleben
darum soll es auch keinen mehr geben
ich habe zuviel Kälte erlebt
ich habe Mütter weinen gesehen.
Ein Krieg bringt denen Armen
nur Kummer und Leid
und die anderen wissen nicht Bescheid
sie wollen es nicht wissen
denn ihnen ist ja kein Leid.
Der Krieg steht dem Gegner immer sehr nah
und schafft Kummer auf beiden Seiten.
Ein Krieg ist auch ein Herzenbrecher
und zugleich ein Fleischfresser
er verzehrt es mit großem Genuß
und als Dessert bekommt er noch Blut.
Die Heimatlosen werden immer mehr
verstreut sind sie dann auf der ganzen Welt
und namenlos liegen ihre Toten
auf dem Feld.
Darum lieber Gott soll es keinen Krieg
nie wieder geben.
Denn nur so können wir alle
glücklich leben

Mani Leyb: Christmas (From Yiddish)

Until relatively recently, Eastern European Christians have had a habit of celebrating Easter and Christmas by visiting misery and terror on those whom they blamed for their savior's death, a practice which inspired the sonnet translated here.

By Mani Leyb
Translated by A.Z. Foreman
Click to hear me recite the original Yiddish

The falling night has roused the bronze of bells.
The city wakes with torched and incensed air.
Their God is risen from the dead with yells
Of joy. In crowds upon a pole they bear

His image, as their tread, heavy and blind,
Bears hate. On quiet and cramped floors everywhere,
Each frightened child of Israel lifts a prayer
To Thee, O God of Mercies, to be kind. 

Beyond the doors and shutters sings the snow.
With blinding frost the bright blue heavens gleam.
The night from crown on high to loins below
Is full of stars and peace. . . only a scream

Rips all the peace away from padlocked lives:
The cry of blood in terror of their knives.

The Original:

מאַני לייב

די נאַכט וועקט אויף דאָס קופער פֿון די גלאָקן.
מיט פֿאַקלען, פֿראָסט און ווײַרעך וואַכט די שטאָט:
פֿון טויט שטייט אויף מיט פֿרידן זייער גאָט.
און מחנות טראָגן אויף אַ הויכן פֿלאָקן

זײַן דמות; און זייער בלינדער שווערער טראָט
טראָגט האַס; און אין די ענגע שטומע שטאָקן
ישראלס קינדער דופֿענען צעשראָקן – 
אָ, גאָט פֿון רחמים! – אויף דײַן באַראָט.

און הינטער טיר און לאָדן זינגט דער שניי. 
ונ ברייטע בלויע הימלען פֿראָסטיק בלענדן.
די נאַכט איז פֿון איר קרוין ביז אירע לענדן
מיט שטערן ונ מיט רו... נאָר אַ געשריי

רײַסט אויף די רו פֿון אַלע אירע שלעסער:
דאָס שרײַט דאָס בלוט אין אַנגסט פֿאַר זייער מעסער.

Abraham Sutzkever: Song of a Jewish Poet in 1943 (From Yiddish)

Song of a Jewish Poet in 1943
By Abraham Sutzkever
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

Am I then the last poet singing in Europe?
Am I making song now for corpses and crows?
I'm drowning in fire, in gunk, in the swamps,
Imprisoned by yellow patched hours as they close.

I bite at my hours with the teeth of a beast
By a mother's tear strengthened. Through teardrops I see
The heart of a million rise forth from the bones
Of long-buried brothers in gallop toward me.

And I am that heart of a million, one chosen
To guard the songs they left behind as they fell,
And God, whose estates Man has put to the torch,
Goes hidden in me as the sun in a well.

Be open, my heart! Know that your hallowed hours
Shall bloom in posterity's mind. Check their fear,
And lend all your strength unto their mighty will.
Become in your sorrow their herald, their seer. 

Make song from down under, make song from the swamps
As long as a mother's tear lives, let the breeze 
Bear your voice to the ear of your bone-buried brethren
To the ghetto in flames, to your folk overseas.

Written in the Vilnius Ghetto, June 1943

The Original: 

געזאַנג פֿון אַ יידישן דיכטער אין 1943
אברהם סוצקעווער

צי בין איך דער לעצטער פּאָעט אין אייראָפע?
צי זינג איך פֿאַר מתים, צי זינג איך פֿאַר קראָען?
איך טרינק זיך אין פֿײַער, אין זומפן, אין ראָפע,
געפֿאַנגען פֿון געלע, געלאַטעטע שעהען.

כ׳צעבײַס מײַנע שעהען מיט חיישע ציינער
געשטאַרקט פֿון מײַן מאַמעס אַ טרער. דורכן טראָפן
דערזע איך ס׳מיליאָניקע האַרץ, פֿון די ביינער,
וואָס יאָגן צו מיר פֿון דער ערד אין גאַלאָפן.

איך בין דאָס מיליאָניקע האַרץ! בין דער היטער
פֿון זייערע איבערגעלאָזטע ניגונים.
און גאָט וואָס דער מענטש האָט פֿאַרברענט זײַנע גיטער,
באַהאַלט זיך אין מיר, ווי די זון אין אַ ברונעם.

זײַ אָפֿן, מײַן האַרץ! און פֿאַרנעם ווי סע שפראָצן

געהייליקטע שעהען אין צוקונפֿטס מחשבה.
פֿאַרגיכער, פֿאַראײַל זייער מאַכטיקן רצון,
און זײַ אין דײַן צער זייער אָנזאָגער, נביא.

און זינג פֿון די זומפן, און זינג פֿון דער נידער,

ביז וואַנען עס לעבט נאָך אַ טרער פֿון דער מאַמען!
דערהערן דײַן קול זאָלן ביינערנע ברידער,
די בראַנדיקע געטאָ, און ס׳פֿאָלק הינטער ימען

ווילנער געטאָ, יוני 1943

Goethe: Permanence in Change (From German)

Permanence in Change
J.W. Goethe
Translated by A.Z. Foreman
Click to hear me recite the original German

Can these blossoms' early blessing
Last not even one brief hour?
Warm west wind already shakes them
Down in bounteous bloomy shower.
Shall the green I lately thanked for 
Shade give pleasure to my eyes?
Soon the wuthering storms will strew it,
Withered pale by autumn skies.

Want to pluck the fruit that hangs there?
Get your share, and do not wait.
These are ripening already
Those are soon to germinate.
Just like that, your pleasant valley
Alters with each rush of rain.
Ah, and in the selfsame river
You swim once, but not again.

Even you! What seemed before you
Set in constant stone to rise,
Castle walls and towers you look at
Now with ever-changing eyes.
Worn away the lip whose every
Pain found healing in a kiss,
Legs that leapt to meet the wildgoat's
Challenge on the precipice,

Gone the hand outstretched and open,
With its generous good intent,
And its shapely, subtle structure...
All things now are different.
All that holds itself together
In that spot and bears your name
Hurries like a wave born hither
Back to elements whence it came. 

Let the end and the beginning
Into one point unify.
Swifter even than these fleeting
Objects, let yourself speed by.
Thank the Muse whose favor promised
This imperishable find:
Your heart's Content joined forever
To the Form within your mind. 

The Original:

Dauer Im Wechsel

Hielte diesen frühen Segen,
Ach, nur Eine Stunde fest!
Aber vollen Blütenregen
Schüttelt schon der laue West.
Soll ich mich des Grünen freuen,
Dem ich Schatten erst verdankt?
Bald wird Sturm auch das zerstreuen,
Wenn es falb im Herbst geschwankt.

Willst du nach den Früchten greifen,
Eilig nimm dein Teil davon!
Diese fangen an zu reifen,
Und die andern keimen schon;
Gleich mit jedem Regengusse
Ändert sich dein holdes Tal,
Ach, und in demselben Flusse
Schwimmst du nicht zum zweitenmal.

Du nun selbst! Was felsenfeste
Sich vor dir hervorgetan,
Mauern siehst du, siehst Paläste
Stets mit andern Augen an.
Weggeschwunden ist die Lippe,
Die im Kusse sonst genas,
Jener Fuß, der an der Klippe
Sich mit Gemsenfreche maß.

Jene Hand, die gern und milde
Sich bewegte, wohlzutun,
Das gegliederte Gebilde,
Alles ist ein andres nun.
Und was sich an jener Stelle
Nun mit deinem Namen nennt,
Kam herbei wie eine Welle,
Und so eilts zum Element.

Laß den Anfang mit dem Ende
Sich in Eins zusammenziehn!
Schneller als die Gegenstände
Selber dich vorüberfliehn!
Danke, daß die Gunst der Musen
Unvergängliches verheißt,
Den Gehalt in deinem Busen
Und die Form in deinem Geist.

Du Bellay: "No Rome in Rome" (From French)

Roma Roma Non Est
From "The Antiquities of Rome"
By Joachim Du Bellay
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

O newcomer in search of Rome in Rome
Who can find naught of Rome in Rome at all,
Rome is the name we give to the dead home
You see: old arch, old palace and old wall.

Behold the pride, the ruin of things past,
How She who set the world beneath her sway
All-conquering, conquered Her own self at last,
Becoming all-consuming Time's own prey.

Rome's lone memorial Rome has come to be,
And Rome has fallen before Rome alone.
Only the Tiber fleeting to the sea

Remains of Rome. Inconstant worldly clime!
That which stands fast, by Time is overthrown 
And what flees fast, stands in the face of Time.  

The Original

Les Antiquités De Rome 3

Nouveau venu, qui cherches Rome en Rome
Et rien de Rome en Rome n'aperçois,
Ces vieux palais, ces vieux arcs que tu vois,
Et ces vieux murs, c'est ce que Rome on nomme.

Vois quel orgueil, quelle ruine : et comme
Celle qui mit le monde sous ses lois,
Pour dompter tout, se dompta quelquefois,
Et devint proie au temps, qui tout consomme.

Rome de Rome est le seul monument,
Et Rome Rome a vaincu seulement.
Le Tibre seul, qui vers la mer s'enfuit,

Reste de Rome. ô mondaine inconstance !
Ce qui est ferme, est par le temps détruit,
Et ce qui fuit, au temps fait résistance.

Quevedo: How All Things Warn of Death (From Spanish)

This poem seems to draw on Seneca's twelfth epistle to Lucilius:

 "Quocumque me verti, argumenta senectutis meae video. Veneram in suburbanum meum et querebar de impensis aedificii dilabentis. Ait vilicus mihi non esse neglegentiae suae vitium, omnia se facere, sed villam veterem esse. Haec villa inter manus meas crevit: quid mihi futurum est, si tam putria sunt aetatis meae saxa?"
Wherever I turn, I see evidences of my advancing years. I visited lately my country-place, and protested about how much money had been spent on the dilapidated building. My bailiff insisted that the flaws were not due to his own negligence, that he was "doing everything possible, but the house was old." And this was the house which grew under my own hands! What has the future in store for me, if stones of my own age are already crumbling?

How All Things Warn Of Death
By Francisco de Quevedo y Villegas
Translated by A.Z. Foreman
Click here to hear me recite the poem in Spanish

     I looked upon the walls of my old land,
so strong once, and now moldering away,
worn out by Time's long march, day after day,
which had already sapped their will to stand.
     I went out to the country, saw the sun 
drink up the streams unfettered from the frost,
and cattle groan how light of day was lost
to woodland, with its shadows overrun.
     I went into my home, but saw the crude 
and rotted ruins of an agèd room;
my cane gone weak and crooked in the grime.
     I felt my sword surrender unto Time
and nothing of the many things I viewed
reminded me of anything but Doom.

The Original:

Enseña Cómo Todas Las Cosas Avisan de la Muerte

     Miré los muros de la patria mía,
si un tiempo fuertes, ya desmoronados,
de la carrera de la edad cansados,
por quien caduca ya su valentía.
     Salíme al campo; vi que el sol bebía
los arroyos del yelo desatados,
y del monte quejosos los ganados,
que con sombras hurtó su luz al día.
     Entré en mi casa; vi que, amancillada,
de anciana habitación era despojos;
mi báculo, más corvo y menos fuerte.
     Vencida de la edad sentí mi espada,
y no hallé cosa en que poner los ojos
que no fuese recuerdo de la muerte.

Francisco de Quevedo: Rome Entombed in its Ruins (From Spanish)

This is a poem that, fittingly, has a long history of surviving in translation and cross-linguistic imitation. Quevedo's Spanish is a paraphrase of a French poem by Du Bellay "Nouveau venu qui cherches Rome en Rome", which is in turn itself a paraphrase of Janus Vitalis Qui Romam in media quaeris novus advena Roma. Other variations on the "Rome is no more in Rome" theme proliferated over the centuries in Europe, often as translations or paraphrases of either Vitalis', Du Bellay's or Quevedo's versions, but occasionally as freer adaptations of the theme, in a number of languages including English, Russian, Polish and others. I'll be translating Du Bellay's and Vitalis' poems soon, and perhaps write a more extended discussion of the theme (and its permutations) to accompany them. Thanks are due to John Emerson who handily assembled many of these poems together in one place, including the hard-to-get-to Latin poem by Vitalis.

Rome Entombed in its Ruins
By Francisco De Quevedo
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

You look for Rome in Rome, O peregrine!
     And find in Rome that Rome Herself is gone:
     The walls She flaunted are a corpse of stone,
     A tomb for its own self, the Aventine.
Here rests, where once it reigned, the Palatine
     And those medallions scoured by Time show more 
     Old battle damage from the constant war
     Of ages, than the escutcheoned Latin sign.
Only the Tiber has remained, whose flow
     Watered the town's growth, weeping at its grave  
     A teary stream in mournful tones of woe.
O Rome in beauty and greatness of Thy past
     All that stood firm has fled, and nothing save
     What runs in transience remains to last.

The Original:

A Roma Ensepultada En Sus Ruinas

Buscas en Roma a Roma oh peregrino!
y en Roma misma a Roma no la hallas:
cadáver son las que ostentó murallas
y tumba de sí proprio el Aventino.

Yace donde reinaba el Palatino
y limadas del tiempo, las medallas
más se muestran destrozo a las batallas
de las edades que Blasón Latino.

Sólo el Tibre quedó, cuya corriente,
si ciudad la regó, ya sepultura
la llora con funesto son doliente.

Oh Roma en tu grandeza, en tu hermosura,
huyó lo que era firme y solamente
lo fugitivo permanece y dura!

Jan J. Slauerhoff: Homeless (From Dutch)

By J.J. Slauerhoff
Translated by A.Z. Foreman
Click to hear me recite the original Dutch

Only in my poems can I make my home.
I have found shelter in no other form.
There is no hearth I've pined for as my own.
A tent could be uprooted in the storm.

Only in my poems can I make my home.
While I still know that I can find those doors
In wilderness, in woods, on streets or moors,
I have no care, wherever I may roam.

Long though it be, the time shall surely come
When before eve my old powers lose their spark
And beg in vain for tender words of old
That I once built with, and the earth must fold
Me to my rest as I bow to the cold
Space where my grave bursts open in the dark.

Many thanks to: Maartje Wenting, Ferida Jawad, Lucienne Schaffer and Lotta DeGroot for being helpful native speakers- and to Leon for a welcome fresh eye.

The Original:


Alleen in mijn gedichten kan ik wonen,
Nooit vond ik ergens anders onderdak;
Voor de eigen haard gevoelde ik nooit een zwak,
Een tent werd door den stormwind meegenomen.

Alleen in mijn gedichten kan ik wonen.
Zoolang ik weet dat ik in wildernis,
In steppen, stad en woud dat onderkomen
Kan vinden, deert mij geen bekommernis.

Het zal lang duren, maar de tijd zal komen
Dat vóór den nacht mij de oude kracht ontbreekt
En tevergeefs om zachte woorden smeekt,
Waarmee ’k weleer kon bouwen, en de aarde
Mij bergen moet en ik mij neerbuig naar de
Plek waar mijn graf in ’t donker openbreekt.

Jan Slauerhoff: The Discoverer (From Dutch)

The Discoverer
By Jan Slauerhoff
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

He held the land he had set sail for dear, 
Dear as a woman holds a being ere birth. 
Deep in the idea, dreaming he stood there  
On the forward deck and as the prow rose forth  

He had the feeling that it stirred already 
Beneath the expanse in which it slumbered away  
While the ship, foaming through the watershed  
Sped to that breakthrough birth and berthing day.  

But it seemed betrayal in discovery.  
No invisible cord had bound the two by sea.  
He wanted to re-cover it. Too late.  
It now lay bared to everyone. He sees  
No way save onward, aimless, desolate,  
Undriven and empty over empty seas.  

The Original:

De Ontdekker

Hij had het land waarvoor hij scheep ging, lief,
Lief, als een vrouw 't verborgen komende.
Er diep aan denkende stond hij droomende
Voor op de plecht en als de boeg zich hief

Was 't hem te moede of 't zich reeds bewoog.
Onder de verten, waarin 't sluimerde
Terwijl 't schip, door de waterscheiding schuimende
Op de aanbrekende geboort' toevloog.

Maar toen het lag ontdekt, leek het verraad.
Geen stille onzichtbare streng verbond hen tweeën.
Hij wilde 't weer verheimelijken — te laat:
Het lag voor allen bloot, hem bleef geen raad
Dan voort te varen, doelloos, desolaat
En zonder drift, leeg over leege zeeën.

Jan Slauerhoff: Dame Seule (From Dutch)

Dame Seule
By Jan Slauerhoff
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

She feels in trees' dark shade such loneliness
She starts to give her own shoulder a caress.
Her small hand, ravished by the curve that flows
In naked beauty over the summer dress,
Sinks down, and wanders...she sits up, blushing, and goes
Back to her modest task of hemming clothes.

The Original:

Dame Seule

Zij voelt zich onder 't donker van de boomen
Zoo eenzaam, dat zij zelf haar schouder liefkoost.
Haar handje, met de ronding ingenomen,
Die over 't zomerkleed is bloot gekomen,
Daalt af, dwaalt af; zij richt zich op en bloost,
Gaat dan weer voort een kleedingstuk te zoomen.

Jan Slauerhoff: Portuguese Fort (From Dutch)

Slauerhoff wrote the first draft of this poem (originally titled Portugeesch Welkom "A Portuguese Welcome") in 1922, at the age of 24 during his first visit to Portugal. The poem was inspired by a visit to an abandoned fort by the harbor of Leixões. The speaker conjures forth an imagined a past which cannot be revived. The welcome cannonade does not resound, and an awareness of cruel colonial reality - of the misery in which forts and harbors of this sort are instrumental - knifes the imagination.

Portuguese Fort
By Jan Slauerhoff
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

Behind the elegant tipped palisade, 
The plaza's hot enamel plate slopes low. 
For admiration the seraglio 
Bends over the alabaster balustrade 

Convinced that many a tender detail lies
Unveiled in tulle dusk where the heavens fade.   
Over the handheld fan, a flicker of eyes 
As red lips slurp away at lemonade.  

The general commands a cannonade 
Of welcome. No shots fire. Still as death's shade. 
A hero is not proven in bravado 
Of restless din, but in the bastinado1
Of negro slaves, the whip on the black body 
Under the cheer of 'Viva Liberdade'2


1 - Bastinado: footwhipping, a type of corporal punishment. For more on that see this wikipedia article.

2 - Portuguese for "Long live liberty." The original reads "Vivo Liberdade" which is probably a careless mistake. Either that or a sign that Slauerhoff's Portuguese wasn't yet up to snuff.

The Original:

Portugeesch Fort

Achter elegante palissaden
Helt het plein, een plaat van heet émail.
Voor bewondering veil buigt het sérail
Over de albasten balustrade;

Overtuigd dat menig teer détail
In den tullen schemer zich laat raden.
De oogen flikkren over de' éventail,
Roode lippen slurpen limonade.

De generaal gelast een kanonnade
Tot welkom. 't Blijft doodstil, geen schot brandt los
‘Heldenmoed bewijst zich niet door daden
Vol druk rumoer, dan maar een bastonnade
Van negerslaven, ranselt er op los
Onder 't gejuich van: Vivo Liberdade!’

Jan Slauerhoff: African Elegy (From Dutch)

It was recently brought to my attention that I might do well to focus more on work that hasn't been translated at all into English.

Very little of Jan Slauerhoff's work is available in English currently, and as Anglophones seldom study Dutch, one of Europe's greatest poets remains virtually unknown to them. To my knowledge, this blog post contains the first English translation (and the first discussion in English of any length) of one of Slauerhoff's major, and all-too-neglected poems.

The Congo was the last region in Africa to be colonized. Hostile natives, forbidding terrain and, above all, disease, were major obstacles to safe travel, let alone settlement, prior to the Belgian colonization in the late 19th century. Twenty years before the publication of this poem, the État Indépendant du Congo had been under the direct personal control of King Leopold II of Belgium. Ostensibly a philanthropic endeavor, the Free State of the Congo was in fact an exploitative affair in which the region was subject to the very worst sacking and brutalization Europe's colonialist barbarians had to offer. Even in its own time, the many atrocities committed by King Leopold's proxies against natives gained international infamy, inspiring numerous works of fiction including Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, notable for its dehumanizing caricatures of the Africans it attempts to portray positively.

Dutch critics have at times read Slauerhoff's Afrikaaansche Elegie in these terms. The poem does seem to be less inspired by Slauerhoff's real life experiences than by damning fictional portrayals of the atrocities committed under the Belgian aegis in earlier decades, and the original even uses a number of English loanwords (Toddy, Body, Twostep, Platform, Revolver) in a way that evokes (to me at least) the Anglophone ambiance of Conrad's novel.

But my contention is that it would be a mistake to read the poem as merely another such work of self-congratulatory "racist colonial guilt." Guilty it certainly is, but not self-righteous. Though we may be at first tempted to read the European's words as yet another caricature of cannibal tribes and whatnot, we should note the placement of such statements in the mouth of a cruel and inhumane white who obsesses over how miserable he is far from home in Darkest Africa with ne'er a thought, outside his conscience-plagued fever-dreams, for the misery he is inflicting on others. I don't know whether Slauerhoff did as of 1927 sincerely believe that Africans are cannibals who consume flesh, but in any case, in this poem shows he knows it is Europeans who are buying and selling that flesh. Indeed, in a connotative reversal of stereotype, the sense of Europeans feeding on Africans in primal fashion is quite present in the words mijn eet- en minnelust "my appetite of food and of lust." We're all human beings, because we're all savage animals.

It is furthermore likely that the European cannot know first hand all of the things he claims to. How, for example, could he know what she promised her brother, unless he heard it from her after the fact? He may be fabulating things. Or she may have told him her brother would cannibalize him purely in order to make him wary. He also doesn't know her native language, but remembers how she screamed in it. We really learn nothing for certain about the actual natives that does not have to do with their mistreatment and impulse to resistance.

Having done the things he has done, consigned to the hellish Congo, there is nothing left for the white man now but death. His death would be a heil, not merely a bounty for a European trapped in colonial tedium, but salvation for the natives. This true salvation and goodness of his death contrasts sharply with the vivacious pomp of bullshit religiosity that figures in his reminiscence.

Though Slauerhoff was not by any stretch free of racial prejudice (few Europeans were) it was his belief that the white man's time in Africa would come to an end, that the colonial mission was doomed to violent failure. In his own French version of the poem, published a year later in the volume Fleurs de Marécage, the final lines are far more explicit, with the words "ce sera pour une autre fois" placed in quotation marks, making clear that the would-be assassin will indeed get his mark, sooner or later.

The Dutch text of the poem given here is slightly emended from the original 1928 edition of El Dorado, the collection in which it first appeared. Spelling has not been modernized.

African Elegy
By Jan J. Slauerhoff
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

He sits on the platform of his factory,1
The yellow Congo slowly slushing by 
With gurgling and interminable ado. 
He sees through cracks in the old floor's bamboo 
Black trunks and crocodiles floating in the night. 
He muses bitterly: "Idyllic sight! 
It's Sunday in Europe everywhere today, 
In Brest, Bordeaux, on every harbor quay. 
Bathed in soft sunlight, every city street 
Is clear of carriages, in peace so sweet. 
Each church's choir sings with sacred calm 
And even folk outside can hear a psalm. 
At evening drunken sailors dance about 
With barmaids, till they bumble and pass out... 
While I sit here with a bad glass of Toddy2,
Six tropic years' exhaustion in my body. 
I haven't had the stomach in seven days 
For pleasure in my nigger girl's3 embrace. 
She's there to appease my every appetite 
And sure enough she'll strangle me one night, 
And the Chief - her brother - feast on the white slaughter 
Just as she promised him the day I bought her. 
I now forget the word that filled her screams, 
Though it obsesses me in fever-dreams." 

He fires three pistol shots. Down drops an ape's 
Corpse from a tree into a grave that gapes 
Suddenly from the brown and muddied deep 
Where a crocodile slept, soon to fall back asleep. 
He puts on an old, grating gramophone 
A twostep plays: despairing monotone. 
From trees across the river whooshes an arrow. 
He hopes for Death's Salvation in that narrow  
Moment, as a child seeing a shooting star 
Stammers a heart-swelled wish. But it is far 
Off. The plumed kill-dart vibrates in hard wood.  
Confounded steps retreat through the dark wood.... 

1 - The word "factory" here refers to a colonial storage and trading facility. See this Wikipedia article for more.

2 - Toddy: here a kind of low-quality palm wine produced locally.

3 - The Dutch word negerin was not derogatory (and still is not) anymore than contemporaneous English terms "negro" or "negress" were at the time. Because I have a hard time imagining Slauerhoff's speaker using terms like that in this context were he speaking English, and because it seemed contextually appropriate, I yielded to the temptation to use the phrase "nigger girl" here to make the speaker's attitude all the more brutally explicit. I hope that readers looking for maximal fidelity will not get their knickers in a twist over such license. Understand, too, that I do not deploy this horrid and despicable word lightly.

The Original:

Afrikaansche Elegie

Hij zit op 't platform van zijn factorij.
De geele Congo kabbelt traag voorbij
Met onophoudelijk borrelend rumoer.
Onder de spleten van den bamboevloer
Drijven boomstammen door en krokodillen.
Hij mijmert bitter: "Dit is mijn idylle.
't Is in Europa Zondag, overal,
In Brest, Bordeaux, aan iedren havenwal.
En in die steden zijn zachtzonnige straten
Nu onbereden en vredigverlaten.
In alle kerken zingen kalme koren,
Ook buitenstaanders kunnen psalmen hooren.
Vanavond danst de dronken varensgast
Met zijn barmeid, tot hij is volgebrast,
Terwijl ik hier zit voor een slecht glas toddy,
Moeheid van zes jaar tropen in mijn body.
Ik heb al sinds verleden week geen zin
In de omhelzing van mijn negerin,
Die voor mijn eet- en minnelust moet zorgen,
Mij weldra op een goeden nacht zal worgen
En braden voor haar broer, het opperhoofd;
Zij heeft het hem, toen ik haar kocht, beloofd.
't Woord dat zij krijschte, dat ik heb vergeten,
Maakt me in doorkoortste droomen wild bezeten."

Hij schiet driemalen zijn revolver af:
Een aap valt uit zijn klapperboom in 't graf
Dat plotseling uit de bruine modder gaapt,
Waar 'n kaaiman sliep - die weldra verder slaapt.
Dan draait een schor geschreeuwde gramofoon;
Een twostep schalt - wanhopig monotoon -
Uit het geboomte aan de' oever snort een pijl:
Een oogenblik hoopt hij zijn dood, zijn heil,
Zooals een kind bij 't vallen van een ster
Een hartewensch snel stamelt; maar 't is ver
Mis, het gevederd moordtuig trilt in 't hout,
Verward gekraak verwijdert zich in 't woud...

Boris Pasternak: Hamlet (From Russian)

By Boris Pasternak
Translated by A.Z. Foreman
Click to hear me recite the original Russian

The tumults die. Out of the wings, I enter.
Leaning inside the doorway to the stage,
I seek to catch within a distant echo
A sense of what shall happen in my age. 

On me a thousand theater glasses focus.
My figure in the dark of night they spy.
If it be in Thy power, Abba Father,
Pray let this cup of torment pass me by.

I love Thy high unwavering conception,
And have agreed to play this part as tasked.
But now another drama is unfolding.
So, just this once, release me from the cast.

But every act has been already written
And journey's end irrevocably marked.
I am alone. All things fall Pharisaic. 
A mortal life is no walk in the park. 

The Original:

Борис Пастернак

Гул затих. Я вышел на подмостки.
Прислонясь к дверному косяку,
Я ловлю в далеком отголоске,
Что случится на моем веку.

На меня наставлен сумрак ночи
Тысячью биноклей на оси.
Если только можно, Aвва Oтче,
Чашу эту мимо пронеси.

Я люблю твой замысел упрямый
И играть согласен эту роль.
Но сейчас идет другая драма,
И на этот раз меня уволь.

Но продуман распорядок действий,
И неотвратим конец пути.
Я один, все тонет в фарисействе.
Жизнь прожить - не поле перейти.

Pushkin: Daemon (From Russian)

In this poem of Pushkin's, the Christian notion of the demon as an evil tempter that leads souls away from God is fused with a daimōn of the classical Socratic sort, a skeptical familiar spirit who impels the erstwhile idealist poet toward cynical doubt in the existence of a higher order. The key theme is doubt, and the terror of it.
Contrary to the hallucinations of the Russian diaspora and post-Soviet Russian nationalists (and the fabrications of contemporaries who either wanted to deflect charges against his character or dragoon him into serving their own ends), Pushkin for the most part never really took Russian Orthodoxy, or its God, very seriously. This was not unusual for someone of his social class with liberal leanings. It would have been strange had he done otherwise, given how completely fused the institution of Russian Orthodoxy was with that of imperial autocracy. Pushkin, a man who prized individualism at times to the point of infantility, had every reason to be skeptical of an institution which legitimized the Tsar - eventually his own personal censor - as quite literally God’s anointed regent on earth, charged to use his autocratic powers to defend Orthodoxy and preserve the morals of the Russian people.
Whether Pushkin ever went through periods of his life during which he doubted the existence of God altogether, we will never know, as atheism in the strict sense was taboo in Pushkin's social circles. However, Pushkin did very strongly believe that things happen for a reason. In recovering alcoholic terms, he believed in a Higher Power which guided a person, had particular designs for individuals, and which it was dangerous and self-destructive to resist or defy. "Luck" and "Chance" were merely the labels attached to the instruments of Fate and Providence. Neither something so mundane as winning a hand at cards, nor something so exalted as inspiration to poetry, nor yet the fate of a nation, were accidental to Pushkin. 
The daemon-induced doubt depicted in this poem is a temporary loss of faith, not in God per se, but in Providence, beauty and ideals, doubt of any higher order that gives meaning to life or to nature and so stifles the creative instinct itself. In the chill of an icy rationalism all things are seen to lose their purpose; beauty is mere fancy in the eye of the beholder, the notion of inspiration becomes an absurd joke. The individualism and freedom to pursue his own destiny have become meaningless in the absence of a coherent destiny at all.

By A.S. Pushkin
Translated by A.Z. Foreman
Click to hear me recite the original Russian

In days gone by, when all of life's
Impressions offered me new thrills:
A murmurous grove, a maiden's eyes,
The nightingale in twilit hills....
When my sublimest aspirations
For freedom, glory, love and art
Instilled of holy inspiration,
So stirred the blood and spurred the heart,
Then were the days of bliss and promise
With wakeful anguish overcast,
As secretly a wicked Genius
Began to visit me unasked.
Grim were the meetings that we had:
His witching glance, the grins he stole,
The sting of every word he spat
Infused cold poison through my soul.
With indefatigable slander
He tempted Providence, and smiled. 
Beauty he called a simple fancy,
And inspiration he reviled. 
He doubted freedom, love, salvation
And turned on life a sneering gaze,
As there was naught in all Creation
He cared to bless with any praise.

The Original:

А.С. Пушкин

В те дни, когда мне были новы
Все впечатленья бытия —
И взоры дев, и шум дубровы,
И ночью пенье соловья —
Когда возвышенные чувства,
Свобода, слава и любовь
И вдохновенные искусства
Так сильно волновали кровь, —
Часы надежд и наслаждений
Тоской внезапной осеня,
Тогда какой-то злобный гений
Стал тайно навещать меня.
Печальны были наши встречи:
Его улыбка, чудный взгляд,
Его язвительные речи
Вливали в душу хладный яд.
Неистощимой клеветою
Он провиденье искушал;
Он звал прекрасное мечтою;
Он вдохновенье презирал;
Не верил он любви, свободе;
На жизнь насмешливо глядел —
И ничего во всей природе
Благословить он не хотел.

Lermontov: The Angel (From Russian)

The Angel
By Mikhail Lermontov
Translated by A.Z. Foreman
Click to hear me recite the original Russian

Across the dark sky came the angel in flight
Who sang a soft song through the night.
And stars and the moon and the clouds in their throng
Gave ear to that glorious song.
He sang of immaculate spirits that rove
In bliss in the Heavenly Grove,
He sang of the Lord of All Things, every phrase

Unfeigned in that purest of praise.
He bore in his arms a young soul toward its birth,
To sorrow and tears on this earth.
And in that young soul the great sound of his song
Remained without words now, but strong.
And long did it languish on earth in its time
Replete with a yearning sublime,

A soul that knew sounds of the heavenly race
No dull song of earth could replace.

The Original:

Михаил Лермонтов

По небу полуночи Ангел летел,
И тихую песню он пел.
И месяц, и звезды, и тучи толпой
Внимали той песне святой.
Он пел о блаженстве безгрешных духов
Под кущами райских садов,
О боге великом он пел, и хвала
Его непритворна была...
Он душу младую в объятиях нес
Для мира печали и слез,
И звук его песни в душе молодой
Остался, без слов, но живой...
И долго на свете томилась она,
Желанием чудным полна.
И звуков небес заменить не могли
Ей скучные песни земли...

Pushkin: Stanzas from Eugene Onegin (From Russian)

Below are translations of a few individual stanzas from from Pushkin's Eugene Onegin. I dream of someday creating a complete translation of the whole book, but I lack the time and sustained energy to do so. For now, I have the first handful of stanzas from Canto 1, plus some others parts that I had a mind to translate, too. As I translate more from Onegin, the stanzas in question will be added in their proper place on this page, and the page itself bumped back up to the most recent entry slot with a note below this paragraph as to what has been added. And of course if there's a particular passage from Onegin (or anything else for that matter) that you would especially like to see me translate, by all means please make a donation and request it.

2/3/15: Added stanzas 8.I and 8.II, major revisions to 1.II and 1.VI.

Stanzas From Eugene Onegin
By Alexander Pushkin
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

"My uncle, man of true conviction...
By falling genuinely sick
He's won respect in his affliction
And could have planned no better trick.  
His model is worth replicating;
But Christ is it excruciating
To attend a patient night and day
And never move a step away!
And oh, what shameful machination
To humor one so nearly dead,
Fluff out the pillows for his head,
Morosely bring his medication
And think, with every practiced sigh,
'Get on with it already. Die!'"
«Мой дядя самых честных правил,
Когда не в шутку занемог,
Он уважать себя заставил
И лучше выдумать не мог.
Его пример другим наука;
Но, боже мой, какая скука
С больным сидеть и день и ночь,
Не отходя ни шагу прочь!
Какое низкое коварство
Полуживого забавлять,
Ему подушки поправлять,
Печально подносить лекарство,
Вздыхать и думать про себя:
Когда же черт возьмет тебя!»

Thus mused a rakehell in reflection    
Riding by post through dust and din.
He was, through natural selection
By Jove, sole heir to all his kin.
Friends of Ruslan from my last story*,
Let me spare you all prefatory
Delay, and introduce this new
Protagonist of mine to you:
Onegin, my good friend and brother,
Was born beside the Neva's** swell,
Where maybe, reader, you as well
Were born, or shone some way or other.
There I myself once played and strolled
Until I caught that northern cold***.
Так думал молодой повеса,
Летя в пыли на почтовых,
Всевышней волею Зевеса
Наследник всех своих родных.
Друзья Людмилы и Руслана!
С героем моего романа
Без предисловий, сей же час
Позвольте познакомить вас:
Онегин, добрый мой приятель,
Родился на брегах Невы,
Где, может быть, родились вы
Или блистали, мой читатель;
Там некогда гулял и я:
Но вреден север для меня.

Notes: *"Ruslan and Ludmila", a previous and wildly successful verse tale of Pushkin's
** Neva. i.e. along the Neva river, which is to say in St. Petersburg.
*** i.e. a reference to Pushkin's banishment


A noble man who'd served sincerely,
His father lived by borrowing,
He entertained with three balls yearly
And finally squandered everything.
Fate handled my Onegin gently
Madame first cared for him intently
Till someone else took on from her
The nice, if boisterous, boy: Monsieur      
L'Abbée, a feckless wretch from Paris
Taught the boy everything in jest,
Kept moral strictures slight at best
Lest he should bother or embarrass.
He'd punish pranks with one remark
And then a stroll in Summer Park*
Служив отлично благородно,
Долгами жил его отец,
Давал три бала ежегодно
И промотался наконец.
Судьба Евгения хранила:
Сперва Madame за ним ходила,
Потом Monsieur ее сменил.
Ребенок был резов, но мил.
Monsieur l’Abbé, француз убогой,
Чтоб не измучилось дитя,
Учил его всему шутя,
Не докучал моралью строгой,
Слегка за шалости бранил
И в Летний сад гулять водил.

* "Summer Park" - the Royal "Létny Sad" built near the imperial Palace.


But when our young man reached the morrow    
Of adolescence and ado,
The time of hope and tender sorrow,
Monsieur was made to say Adieu.
Eugene's at large now. Taking care to
Display the latest voguish hairdo,
And dressed like a London Dandy, he
At last saw high society.
In French which he had quite perfected
He could express himself and write,
And when he danced, his step was light
His bow completely unaffected.
What's more to want? The verdict ran:
A witty, charming, gentle man.
Когда же юности мятежной
Пришла Евгению пора,
Пора надежд и грусти нежной,
Monsieur прогнали со двора.
Вот мой Онегин на свободе;
Острижен по последней моде,
Как dandy лондонский одет —
И наконец увидел свет.
Он по-французски совершенно
Мог изъясняться и писал;
Легко мазурку танцевал
И кланялся непринужденно;
Чего ж вам больше? Свет решил,
Что он умен и очень мил.

1. V

We've all received some education
In something, somehow, have we not?    
So thank the Lord that in our nation
Playing the thinker takes no thought.
Eugene was in the view of many
(Judges as strict and fair as any)
Learnèd, if prone to pedantry.
He had the happy ability
For free and easy conversation,
For handling any grave dispute
With an air of learning and astute
Silence in lieu of confrontation,
And lighting up a lady's gaze
With sudden fiery turns of phrase.
Мы все учились понемногу
Чему-нибудь и как-нибудь,
Так воспитаньем, слава богу,
У нас немудрено блеснуть.
Онегин был по мненью многих
(Судей решительных и строгих)
Ученый малый, но педант:
Имел он счастливый талант
Без принужденья в разговоре
Коснуться до всего слегка,
С ученым видом знатока
Хранить молчанье в важном споре
И возбуждать улыбку дам
Огнем нежданных эпиграмм.

1. VI

Latin's gone out of fashion for us.
But he had learned, be in no doubt,
Enough of the great tongue of Horace
To figure Latin phrases out,
Cite Juvenal from French translations,
Add "vale" in his salutations.
There was a line (on good days, two)
By Virgil that he nearly knew.
He had no scholar's predilection
To delve through diachronic dust
Of the world's histories caked with must.
There was, though, quite a large collection    
Of anecdotes he could recite
From Troy's destruction to last night.
Латынь из моды вышла ныне:
Так, если правду вам сказать,
Он знал довольно по-латыне,
Чтоб эпиграфы разбирать,
Потолковать об Ювенале,
В конце письма поставить vale1),
Да помнил, хоть не без греха,
Из Энеиды два стиха.
Он рыться не имел охоты
В хронологической пыли
Бытописания земли:
Но дней минувших анекдоты
От Ромула до наших дней
Хранил он в памяти своей.

He who has lived and thought can never  
Look on mankind without disgust,
He who has felt is plagued forever
By ghosts of days forever lost.
Gone are enchantment and affection.
In him the snake of recollection
And sick repentance eats the heart.
All this will oftentimes impart
A savory charm to conversations.
Though first unsettled and confused  
By Eugene's tongue, I did get used
To his abrasive disputations,
His blend of bile and comedy,
His somber, vicious repartee.
Кто жил и мыслил, тот не может
В душе не презирать людей;
Кто чувствовал, того тревожит
Призрак невозвратимых дней:
Тому уж нет очарований,
Того змия воспоминаний,
Того раскаянье грызет.
Все это часто придает
Большую прелесть разговору.
Сперва Онегина язык
Меня смущал; но я привык
К его язвительному спору,
И к шутке, с желчью пополам,
И злости мрачных эпиграмм.

In those days when I bloomed serenely    
In Lycée gardens, long ago,
I'd read my Apuleius keenly
But ne'er a word of Cicero -
In those spring days, in secret dales
Where swans called out along the trails
By lakes in stilly air agleam,
The Muse first came to bid me dream.
My student cell filled with enchanted
And sudden light. The Muse spread there
A feast of youthful fancies fair.
She sang of childhood cheers, and chanted  
The glory of our lays of old,
The tremulous reveries hearts can hold.
В те дни, когда в садах Лицея
Я безмятежно расцветал,
Читал охотно Апулея,
А Цицерона не читал,
В те дни в таинственных долинах,
Весной, при кликах лебединых,
Близ вод, сиявших в тишине,
Являться муза стала мне.
Моя студенческая келья
Вдруг озарилась: муза в ней
Открыла пир младых затей,
Воспела детские веселья,
И славу нашей старины,
И сердца трепетные сны.


And with a smile my Muse was greeted.
What wings our first successes gave!
By Old Derzhávin we were heeded
And blessed before he reached the grave.....
И свет ее с улыбкой встретил;
Успех нас первый окрылил;
Старик Державин нас заметил
И в гроб сходя, благословил.

To love all ages must surrender.
But to young hearts its tumults bring
A gale as plentiful and tender
As tempests to the fields of spring
They freshen under passion's shower
Renew themselves, and come to flower,
As potent life takes fertile root
To bring rich blooms and yield sweet fruit.    
But when our age has left us older,
That barren turning of our years,
Dead passion's traces just bear tears-
So autumn stormwinds just blow colder,
Make swamps of meadows everywhere
And leave the forests stripped and bare.
Любви все возрасты покорны;
Но юным, девственным сердцам
Ее порывы благотворны,
Как бури вешние полям:
В дожде страстей они свежеют,
И обновляются, и зреют —
И жизнь могущая дает
И пышный цвет и сладкий плод.
Но в возраст поздний и бесплодный,
На повороте наших лет,
Печален страсти мертвой след:
Так бури осени холодной
В болото обращают луг
И обнажают лес вокруг.

Horace: Ode 1.9 To Thaliarchus in Winter (From Latin)

To Thaliarchus In Winter
By Horace
Translated by A.Z. Foreman
Click to hear me recite the original Latin

See how Soracte1 shines in the height of snowfall, 
See how the toiling forests can hardly bear 
 their cold loads, how the streams stand frozen,
  stilled with sharp ice in bewintering air.
Thaw off this cold. Throw logs on the hearth in warm 
welcome, and be more generous with the pure    
 wine drawn from that old Sabine2 cask,        
  dear Thaliarchus, good host and sure 
friend. Let the gods take care of the rest. Once they've 
brought all the winds that brawl on the boiling sea       
 to heel, then nothing shakes the ancient
  alder and beautiful cypress tree.
Ask not of what tomorrow will bring. Each day 
fortune allows you, count as a blessed gain. 
 Young man, enjoy the sweet delights of 
  loving and dancing. Do not abstain
while your green youth is free of old peevish gray.  
Now is the time for Campus3 and plaza too, 
 for nights of sighs and whispered nothings    
  when you and her keep a rendezvous,
Time for the lovely laugh from a secret corner 
giving away the girl where she hides at last, 
 for the love-bracelet from a hand whose
  fingers pretend to resist your grasp


1- Mount Soracte, a mountain north of Rome and visible from the city streets.

2 - Sabine wine, originating in an area near Horace's own farm. Not an especially expensive vintage.

3 - "Campus" i.e. the Campus Martius or Field of Mars.


Vidēs ut altā stet nive candidum 
Sōracte, nec iam sustineant onus 
 silvae labōrantēs, gelūque
  flūmina cōnstiterint acūtō.
Dissolve frīgus, ligna super focō               
largē repōnēns atque benignius 
 dēprōme quadrīmum Sabīnā,
  ō Thaliarche, merum diōtā:
permitte dīvīs cētera, quī simul 
strāvēre ventōs aequore fervidō                       
 dēproeliantīs, nec cupressī
  nec veterēs agitantur ōrnī.
Quid sit futūrum crās fuge quaerere et 
quem Fōrs diērum cumque dabit lucrō 
 appōne, nec dulcīs amōrēs                          
  sperne puer neque tū chorēās,
dōnec virentī cānitiēs abest 
mōrōsa.  Nunc et campus et āreae 
 lēnēsque sub noctem susurrī
  compositā repetantur hōrā,          
nunc et latentis prōditor intumō 
grātus puellae rīsus ab angulō 
 pignusque dēreptum lacertīs
  aut digitō male pertinācī.

Catullus: Poem 34 "Promises, Promises" (From Latin)

Poem 34: Promises, Promises
By Catullus
Translated by A.Z. Foreman
Click to hear me recite the original Latin

My girl says there's no one she'd rather wed
    Than me. "Not even Jupiter"
Says she. The things a woman says in bed
    To please her lover are secure
As any contract scribbled out on air.  
Or you could find a sea, and write it there.  

The Original:

Nūllī sē dīcit mulier mea nūbere mālle 
 quam mihi, nōn sī sē Iuppiter ipse petat. 
Dīcit: sed mulier cupidō quod dīcit amantī, 
 in ventō et rapidā scrībere oportet aquā 

Ovid: The Night of Exile, Tristia 1.3 (From Latin)

In 8 AD, Ovid was exiled from Rome by Caesar Augustus for reasons that are not altogether clear. This poem is a (clearly immensely stylized) retelling of his final tear-sodden night in Rome before leaving for Tomis, in the yet unsettled Roman province of Moesia (modern-day Constanta, Romania) to which he had been exiled. There, in banishment, he would ultimately die, never seeing his wife or hometown again.

The Night of Exile, Tristia 1.3
By Ovid
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

When once again the mind is filled with shades      
   Of my final night in dear sweet Rome,
Recalling the night I gave up so much I cherished,   
   A tear even now begins to flow.

Dawn was at hand. By Caesar's fiat I had to   
   Depart for the frontier, come day.1
I'd found no time to prepare, nor inclination,   
   My will was lulled by long delays.
I had not bothered with slaves, or choice of attendants,   
   Nor clothes, nor the gear an exile needs,
Stunned as one struck by a bolt of Jove's own thunder   
   Who survives, unconscious that he still breathes.

But when sheer force of grief blew that fog off my spirit   
   And at last my stricken senses returned,
Before leaving, I had last words with the grieving few   
   Friends I still had of the many that were.
I wept in the arms of my wife who wept still harder.
   Tears streaked those cheeks that didn't deserve this.
My daughter, faraway in Africa couldn't   
   Be told what fate I would now endure.
Wherever I turned: more moaning, mourning. It seemed   
   A funeral with no moment of silence.
My wife, my son and slaves all grieved my passing.   
   Each nook had its tears. A house fell crying.
To gloss the small with the grand: Troy looked like this   
   When it fell that night in Aeneas' eyes.2

Now all was still. Not a stir of dog or man,   
   As Lady Moon rode her nightly way.
And in her beams I watched the Capitoline    
   So near my home, but near in vain,
And cried "High Powers who dwell in that citadel,   
   Temples I'll see no more with my eyes,
Gods of my Rome that I must now abandon,   
   Farewell now and for all of time!
Though I now take up the shield while already wounded   
   Yet lift hate's burden from this exile.
And tell that Godly Man3 what error snared me,   
   That he not think my failing a crime,
That my exile's architect feel all that you know.   
   With godhead appeased, no grief is mine."
Such was my prayer to the gods. My wife's were many,   
   Sobs choking her every word apart.
Disheveled she fell before our family shrine,   
   Pressed trembling lips to the cold dead hearth,
And poured great prayer to no avail for her husband.   
   For our household gods were no longer ours.
The fast-ebbing night left no time for further delay.   
   The Star-bear was wheeling round his axis.
What could I do? I'd held off for love of my country,   
   But this night had been decreed my last.
Oh the times I told my friends "Why hurry? Think   
   Where to, and where from you're rushing me!"
The times I lied to myself and others, swearing   
   I'd picked a proper hour to leave.
Thrice did I cross the threshold, thrice turned back,   
   The power of intention slowing my feet.
Often I'd say goodbye and go back to talking,   
   Then once again kiss all goodbye.
Often I'd give the same self-deluded instructions,   
   Then back to my loved ones turned my eyes.
At last I said "Why rush? It's Scythia4 I leave for,   
   And Rome I leave. Two reasons to stay.
I live, yet my living wife is denied me forever   
   With my sweet household, its loyal members,
And all the attendants I loved as would a brother,   
   Hearts bound to mine in a Thesean5 faith!
This may be my last chance to embrace them ever.   
   Best make the most of what remains."
Then I turned and left my words unfinished to hug   
   Each of my loved ones. No delay.

But as I spoke and we wept, the Star of Morrow   
   Had risen bright, but boding bane.
I was ripped asunder as if I'd lost a limb.   
   Something of me was torn away,
As Mettus6 when steeds avenging his betrayal   
   Were driven apart, and tore him in half.
My kinfolk then in a climax of clamorous weeping   
   Beat bare breasts with grieving hands.
And when at last I was leaving, my poor wife clasped me   
   With one last desperate, tear-drenched plea:
"They can't tear you away. Let us go together,   
   As exile and exile's wife. Take me!
Your journey is mine. There's room for me at an outpost.   
   I'll make small weight on your ship at sea,
You, exiled by Caesar's wrath, and I by loyal   
   Love. Let love be a Caesar to me."7
So she tried as she had tried before to convince me,   
   And yielded only to practical need.8 
I went a corpse without procession, in rags,   
   Hair strewn about my unshaven cheeks.

I'm told she fainted from grief, mind plunged in dark,   
   And fell half-dead right there in our house.
When she came round, with disheveled dust-fouled hair,   
   Staggering up from the cold hard ground,
She wept for herself, for a house abandoned, screaming   
   Her stolen man's name time after time,
Wailing as though she'd witnessed our daughter's body   
   Or mine, upon the high-stacked pyre;
And longed for death, to kill the horror and hardship,   
   Yet out of regard for me she lived.
Long may she live! And in life give aid to her absent   
   Love, whose exile the Fates have willed. 


1 - The original Latin literally reads "depart from the farthest boundaries of Ausonia." Ausonia, originally a Greek term for a particular region in southern Italy, is a literary archaism used in Greek and Latin poetry to refer to all of Italy. (Compare English poetic use of "Hellas" for Greece, or "Cathay" for China.) For Ovid it would have had strong associations with the Aeneid, as it is frequently used there as a term for Italy as a storied "promised land" sought by the exiled Aeneas. Ovid in exile is using a term for Italy which implies distance and unattainability, as well as longing.

2 - This is the most overt, but not the only, indication in this poem that Ovid perceives his exile as a kind of reverse-Aeneid. Throughout the poem, there are a great many linguistic and thematic echoes, subtle and not, of Virgil. Though the precise instances need not all detain the Anglophone reader, it is worth noting that the entire poem borrows from the language and rhetorical toolkit of epic, including the disjointed narrative structure, to treat a deeply personal matter, which epics typically do not.

3 - "Godly Man" i.e. Caesar Augustus

4 - Ovid's exile was not actually in Scythia, but he uses the term in opposition to Rome because of its associations of barbarity, harshness, remoteness, and in short, everything Rome was not.

5 - Theseus' legendary love for his friend Pīrithous had become proverbial by this point. Theseus eventually lost his friend to the underworld, and despite all dedication was unable to rescue him. Ovid's companions cannot go with him into exile. The reference is simultaneously to the depth of attachment, and to how powerless that bond has ultimately proven.

6 - Mettus Fufetius, Alban leader torn to pieces by order of Tullius Hostilius as punishment for treachery. His body was tied to two different chariots which were driven in opposite directions.

7 -The term translated as "loyal love" is pietās. Pietās in Latin is one of those words (like Russian toská or Persian ɣayrat or Portuguese Saudade) which is both readily understood by the language's user and also quite difficult to translate. The closest English word approximation is probably "devotion." It is however devotion not only as a state of being, but as a moral virtue, encompassing ideas of duty, loyalty and selfless love, devotion to one's kin, one's deities, one's countrymen, or the Roman state, and to doing right by them.

8 - Practical need: i.e. she must stay behind to watch over his interests in Rome, and also attempt to help get Ovid's exile rescinded so that he might return. It never was. Ovid never saw his wife, children or hometown again.


Cum subit illīus trīstissima noctis imāgō   
      quā mihi suprēmum tempus in Urbe fuit,
cum repetō noctem quā tot mihi cāra relīquī,
      lābitur ex oculīs nunc quoque gutta meīs.

Iam prope lūx aderat quā mē discēdere Caesar
      fīnibus extrēmae iusserat Ausoniae.
Nec spatium nec mēns fuerat satis apta parandī:
      torpuerant longā pectora nostra morā.
Nōn mihi servōrum, comitis nōn cūra legendī,
      nōn aptae profugō vestis opisve fuit.
Nōn aliter stupuī quam quī Iovis ignibus īctus
      vīvit et est vītae nescius ipse suae.
Ut tamen hanc animī nūbem dolor ipse remōvit,
      et tandem sēnsūs convaluēre meī,
alloquor extrēmum maestōs abitūrus amīcōs
      quī modo dē multīs ūnus et alter erant.
Uxor amāns flentem flēns ācrius ipsa tenēbat,
      imbre per indignās usque cadente genās.
Nāta procul Libycīs aberat dīversa sub ōrīs,
      nec poterat fātī certior esse meī.
Quōcumque aspicerēs lūctūs gemitūsque sonābant,
      fōrmaque nōn tacitī fūneris intus erat.
Fēmina virque meō puerī quoque fūnere maerent,
      inque domō lacrimās angulus omnis habet.
Sī licet exemplīs in parvīs grandibus ūtī,
      haec faciēs Troiae cum caperētur erat.

Iamque quiēscēbant vōcēs hominumque canumque, 
      Lūnaque nocturnōs alta regēbat equōs.
Hanc ego suspiciēns et ab hāc Capitōlia cernēns,
      quae nostrō frūstrā iūncta fuēre Larī,
"Nūmina vīcīnīs habitantia sēdibus," inquam,
      "iamque oculīs numquam templa videnda meīs,
dīque relinquendī, quōs urbs habet alta Quirīnī,
      este salūtātī tempus in omne mihi.
Et quamquam sērō clipeum post vulnera sūmō,
      attamen hanc odiīs exonerāte fugam:
caelestīque virō, quis mē dēcēperit error,
      dīcite, prō culpā nē scelus esse putet.
Ut quod vōs scītis, poenae quoque sentiat auctor:
      plācātō possum nōn miser esse deō."

Hāc prece adōrāvī superōs ego, plūribus uxor,
      singultū mediōs impediente sonōs.
Illa etiam ante Larēs passīs adstrāta capillīs
      contigit extīnctōs ōre tremente focōs,
multaque in adversōs effūdit verba Penātēs
      prō dēplōrātō nōn valitūra virō.
Iamque morae spatium nox praecipitāta negābat,
      versaque ab axe suō Parrhasis Arctos erat.
Quid facerem? Blandō patriae retinēbar amōre,
      ultima sed iussae nox erat illa fugae.
Ā! Quotiēns aliquō dīxī properante "quid urgēs?
      vel quō fēstīnās īre, vel unde, vidē."
Ā! Quotiēns certam mē sum mentītus habēre
      hōram, prōpositae quae foret apta viae.
Ter līmen tetigī, ter sum revocātus, et ipse
     indulgēns animō pēs mihi tardus erat.
Saepe "valē" dictō rūrsus sum multa locūtus,
      et quasi discēdēns ōscula summa dedī,
saepe eadem mandāta dedī mēque ipse fefellī,
      respiciēns oculīs pignora cāra meīs.

Dēnique "quid properō? Scythia est, quō mittimur," inquam,
      "Rōma relinquenda est, utraque iūsta mora est.
Uxor in aeternum vīvō mihi vīva negātur,
      et domus et fīdae dulcia membra domūs,
quōsque ego dīlēxī frāternō mōre sodālēs,
      ō mihi Thēsēā pectora iūncta fidē!
dum licet, amplectar: numquam fortasse licēbit
      amplius. In lūcrō est quae datur hōra mihi."
Nec mora. Sermōnis verba imperfecta relinquō,
      complectēns animō proxima quaeque meō.

Dum loquor et flēmus, caelō nitidissimus altō,
      stēlla gravis nōbīs, Lūcifer ortus erat.
Dīvidor haud aliter, quam sī mea membra relinquam,
      et pars abrumpī corpore vīsa suō est.
Sīc doluit Mettus tunc cum in contrāria versōs
      ultōrēs habuit prōditiōnis equōs.
Tum vērō exoritur clāmor gemitūsque meōrum,
      et feriunt maestae pectora nūda manūs.
Tum vērō coniūnx umerīs abeuntis inhaerēns
      miscuit haec lacrimīs tristia verba meīs:
"nōn potes āvellī. Simul hinc, simul ībimus:" inquit,
      "tē sequar et coniūnx exulis exul erō.
Et mihi facta via est, et mē capit ultima tellūs:
      accēdam profugae sarcina parva ratī.
Tē iubet ē patriā discēdere Caesaris īra,
      mē pietās. Pietās haec mihi Caesar erit."
Tālia temptābat, sīcut temptāverat ante,
      vixque dedit victās ūtilitāte manūs.
Ēgredior, sīve illud erat sine fūnere ferrī,
      squālidus immissīs hirta per ōra comīs.

Illa dolōre āmēns tenebrīs nārrātur obortīs
      sēmjanimis mediā prōcubuisse domō,
utque resurrēxit foedātis pulvere turpī
      crīnibus et gelidā membra levāvit humō,
sē modo, dēsertōs modo complōrāsse Penātēs,
      nōmen et ēreptī saepe vocāsse virī,
nec gemuisse minus, quam sī nātaeve meumve
      vīdisset strūctōs corpus habēre, rogōs,
et voluisse morī, moriendō pōnere sēnsus,
      respectūque tamen nōn periisse meī.
Vīvat, et absentem, quoniam sīc fāta tulērunt,
      vīvat et auxiliō sublevet usque suō.

The Archpoet: Confession in Pavia (From Latin)

Okay, this introduction's a long one. 

The poem here translated (which is better called a "Confession in Pavia" than the "Confession of Golias") is by the Archpoet, an irreverent, blasphemously avant-garde and brilliant 12th century German(ic) cleric, ten of whose poems survived in the Carmina Burana. For my money, he is the closest medieval Europe has to the antinomian aesthetic of Persian poets like Hafiz, though the two are in many ways extremely unalike. (Actually, one could write a very interesting article comparing Hafiz to the Archpoet. The many striking similarities are every bit as illuminating as the differences.)

We do not know the fellow's name. He's just the Archipoeta, or Archpoet. Which really is quite fitting. Despite the anonymity, we can confidently deduce a good deal about him. His poems offer crucial information (although that doesn't mean they should be read literally as most readers for the past hundred years have done- this is a court poet and a chancery clerk, after all, not a starving artist errant.) Moreover, due to his high station and the clerical circles he moved in, the Archpoet was associated with a number of extremely well-known people whose lives are well documented, most especially his patron Rainald of Dassel, chancellor of Emperor Barbarossa.

A subset of stanzas from this poem have been used as a drinking song for over a century, titled Meum Est Propositum. But this poem is so much more than simply the greatest drinking song of all time. It is courtly literature, and mirthful commentary, of the highest caliber, written by an anti-establishmentarian chancery cleric who was court poet to the equally antinomian Rainald of Dassel, under whose patronage all the Archpoet's extant verse was composed. Rainald himself was no stranger to holy orders (indeed he is the "Prelate" and "Archbishop Elect" of the text here translated) though he was little interested in religious duties as such so much as the power that came with them, and had little patience or heed for clerical moralizing. Rainald was, in fact, an outrageous man in nearly every sense. He was a reactionary of the sort who might tell both the monkish austerity-peddler and the Vatican dignitary, face to face, to go fuck themselves. He was a dirty-fighting politician, more imperialist than the holy Roman Emperor, and almost as un-Catholic as the Pope. Indeed, he had recently been excommunicated by the time this poem was composed (which adds an important dimension to the irony.) Yet he was not only the most controversial but also one of the most sophisticated and learned intellectual patrons in Latin Christendom in his day. 

The Archpoet in this poem as ever plays on biblical and patristic themes and language, in a way that is meant as much to be stimulating and amusing to his patron Rainald as shocking and unsettling to other clerics who must have been in attendance when this poem was declaimed in Pavia. To me, the Archpoet seems to be taking Matthew 11:9 as a basic theme (venit Filius hominis manducans et bibens et dicunt ecce homo vorax et potator vini publicanorum et peccatorum amicus et iustificata est sapientia a filiis suis "The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children.")  There is a sense in which much of the poem consists of variations on this verse. The poet though takes this passage's implication far beyond the bounds of what would have been acceptable, positioning himself as a drinker and friend of sinners and applying to himself the same labels that were leveled against Jesus by his enemies. But the Germanic Archpoet isn't merely using value-inversion to shock the establishmentarian Italian clerics in Pavia who look upon him and his patron as being culturally backward. He's out to expose their austerity as hypocrisy. To this end he builds the piece into an ever more overt fictio (feigned repentance) directed toward a recently excommunicated prelate (namely his friend and patron Rainald) who would have been barred from the actual sacrament of confession, a subversive declaration meant to satirize the normally quite serious genre of penitential writing, and the equally serious tradition of public confession. 

Make no mistake. Tempting and even productive though it is, and has been, for later readers (especially singers) to imagine otherwise, this poem is the product of medieval Latin high clerical culture, and is produced by and for members of a clerical elite steeped in ecclesiastical latinity. Claims that the Archpoet must not have been a cleric at all are based on anachronistic and mistaken assumptions. Irreligious, and even somewhat anti-religious, this poem certainly is. What it is not, however, is popular, less so still secular (and even less does it deserve to be called a "basically pagan poem.") The Archpoet shows no signs of actual anti-clericalism. There were actual anti-clericalists in his day, and he wasn't one of them. Nor does he ever hint at the idea of actually forsaking his order. It is Rome and its orthodox moralizing he repudiates, not the institution itself. The Archpoet also is quite disdainful of the masses, and it is unlikely he would have written for the man in the street. Had he wished to do so, he could have done as some of his contemporaries did and used a vernacular. In any case, the Archpoet's own stance is made clear when he says elsewhere laici non sapiunt ea quae sunt vatis "laymen do not fathom the poet's trade." 

For all the exaltation of taverns, markets and other such riffrafferies, including a hint of brothels, these are celebrated precisely because, and only to the extent that, they shock and annoy the moralist. They should not be taken as indications that the Archpoet in his life necessarily patronized taverns and whorehouses. That said, I personally find it hard to swallow that a man of irreverence at the margins of the moral establishment, who was good friends with a man like Rainald of Dassel, lived a life of complete teetotaling virginity. Just as this poem should not be taken to represent the truth transparently (for in fact it makes feigning into an art-form), neither should one assume that it bears no relationship to the truth. No act of lying or feigning is totally unrelated to the truth. What's really going on, then? I don't really know. I doubt anyone does. The question of what is true and what is false is one that the Archpoet leaves no easy answers to, which is precisely his intent, and his point. 

As for how to translate such a poem, I found it no straightforward matter. One has to square oneself, first and foremost, with the fact that English is a vernacular, and Latin - though it was not only read and written but also spoken by the 12th century clerisy - is not. What English does have is a great potential range of registers from the poetical and biblical to the obscenities you utter when you stub your toe at 2 AM after waking up to answer a phonecall that turned out to be a wrong number. In translating this poem, I have used this entire range of registers, for which there is no warrant in the original Latin beyond the ambiguous and playful spirit in which it was written. This spirit, moreover, is what made me feel at liberty to up (or update) the outrageousness by a notch or two. 

Note on the Latin text: Those who know Latin should also note that there is in the text some wordplay which will not be obvious to modern reader due to differences of pronunciation. In most German pronunciations of Latin by the end of the eleventh century, V had been devoiced and was normally pronounced identically to F, at least word-initially (the contrast was later reintroduced during the Renaissance.) To my knowledge, none of the many scholars who have written about the Archpoet, or this most famous of his compositions, have noted the amusing fact that Venus, mentioned twice in this poem, would have been phonologically indistinguishable from Faenus "profit, advantage, financial gain." Likewise, vina proxima (wine nearby) contains an echo of finis proximus ("end is nigh", in reference to death, but also recalling apocalyptic phrasing from e.g. St. Augustine's De Fine Saeculi.) The poem is spangled with allusions to biblical and other religious texts, and classical ones, as well as ideas drawn from them. Explicating all of them didn't seem like it would really be worth it. I've mentioned a couple in the notes, but in most cases I've simply noted the passages in question in superscript on the Latin text for anyone who's interested in digging deeper. 

Confession in Pavia

By the Archpoet (12th Century)
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

Seething in my very gut with a violent anger,
I would have words with my heart in remorseful rancor.
Being mostly made of light, insubstantial matter,
I am like a little leaf any breeze can batter.

Since the mark of a wise man is to seek one's station
And to build on rock the firm base of his foundation,
I am verily a fool, gliding like a river 
That can't be the same thing twice, deviant forever.

Like a ship without a crew drifting with the weather,
Like a bird on airy ways roaming God knows whither.
I break free of lock and chain, and I dodge the watchers,
Join a troop of men like me: drunkards and debauchers.

Weighty matters weigh me down, and aren't even funny.
Making light is what I love, sweeter far than honey.
Every order Venus gives means delightful labor.
For she never grants a weak, craven heart her favor.

Broad the primrose path I tread, as is young men's fashion.
Virtue my anathema, vices are my passion.
Questing more for pleasure than heavenly salvation,
Dead in soul, I give my flesh great consideration.

It is beyond hard to tame Nature with mere credo,
To behold fair maids and think thoughts pure of libido.
We are young and cannot heed such harsh regulation,
Smooth young bodies cannot but fire our fascination.

To Your Grace do I confess. Grant me sin's remission.
I am dying the good death. It's a sweet perdition.
Pretty women pierce my breast, pulsing with temptation.
Those I can't have I still do in imagination.

Who escapes unburned when cast into conflagration?
Who stays in Pavia free of all fornication?
Callipygian Venus here hunts young men in leisure,
Lures them with her blowjob lips, takes them for her pleasure.

Put a chaste Hippolytusin this town on Sunday.
Chaste Hippolytus is not what he'll be by Monday.
Here all roads lead not to Rome, but to Venus' penthouse.
Alethia's2  home is no palace so portentous.

I'm accused of gambling too, told I'd best forsake it. 

Say a night of dice leaves me in the street stripped naked.
Though I'm freezing outwardly, mentally I'm sweating
In the smithy of my art, better verse begetting.  

Sinful item number three is the pub. I've never
Spurned a pub in all my years, and nor will I ever
Till the holy hosts descend and my eyes discern 'em
Singing for the dead their long "Requiem Eternam."3 

To die in a pub while drunk is my resolution
Where the wine can ease me through my last dissolution.
Then shall herald angels sing in a choir of glory:
"Deus sit propitius huic potatori."4    (Or: "Son of God have mercy on this dead drunk before Thee") 

Chalices light my soul's lamp. Spirit I am given,
And my nectar-drunken heart rises up toward heaven.
Sweeter to me is the wine that in pubs I order
Than the stuff that's watered down by our Prelate's porter.

There are poets who disdain vulgar public places,
Who run off to secret, dark, private writing spaces,
Strive in studious toil all night, without even eating,
But can't manage to produce anything worth reading.

In teetotal choruses fasting poets hustle
To avoid the brawl of pubs and the markets' bustle,
Struggle to compose one piece that can live forever,
And, not having lived themselves, die from the endeavor.

Lady Nature gives to each his own special labor.
Till my belly's full I can't put my pen to paper,
And a boy could knock me down without even trying.
Thirst and hunger I despise little less than dying.

Lady Nature gives to each his unique advantage.5 
When I write my verse I drink wine of decent vintage,
Though the innkeeper's own stash is the most amazing.
Wine like that will generate gallons of gold phrasing.

I write verse proportionate to the wine I swallow.
I can't do a thing at all, when my belly's hollow. 
When I keep the fast I am the worst poetaster.
But give me a glass or three, and I'm Ovid's master. 

No I've never been bequeathed holy inspiration,
When my belly wasn't first filled to satiation.
While my mental citadel is in Bacchus' power,
In Apollo bursts to speak wonders every hour.

Your Grace, I've exposed my own wanton inclinations
And have shown the truth of your servants' accusations.
But will they accuse themselves with their own confessions?
For they too take pleasure in worldly indiscretions.

Right here, in the presence of our most blessèd Prelate
Following the Son of God, I say let the zealot
Who would like to strike and kill this prophetic poet,
If his own soul hath no sin, get some stones and show it!

I've confessed to all I know that I've perpetrated,
Spewed out all the poison that I long cultivated.
My old life disgusts me now, let new virtue guide me.
Men see me, but Jove6 alone sees the heart inside me.

Now it's virtues I adore, as I abhor vices. 
My mind is renewed and my reborn spirit rises,
Like unto a newborn babe7, innocently nursing,
Lest my heart again grow filled with pride and perversion. 

Archbishop Elect8 of Köln, behold my contrition
And be merciful to one seeking sins' remission. 
Give a fitting penance for what I've been confessing.
I will do as you command, and call it a blessing. 

Even the lion, king of beasts, when his subjects cower
Spares them and forgets his wrath, chastening his power.
You great princes of this world can do even better,
For that which is never sweet is exceeding bitter.


1 - Hippolytus, a classical model of male chastity who, in the Euripidean drama which bears his name, is devoted to the virgin goddess Artemis.

2 - Alethia, the personification of truth and virtue, neither of which are to be found in Pavia as the Archpoet would have it. Instead, there is falsity masquerading as truth and depravity in virtue's clothing. It is also possible that Alethia is a textual corruption of Aricia. Aricia was Hippolytus' wife when he came to earth a second time in Aeneid VII.661

3 - The phrase comes from the opening to the Mass of the Dead.

4 - This stanza is quite a famous one. The Archpoet's audience would know that publican's imprecation from the Gospel of Luke,  Deus propitius esto mihi peccatori, "Lord have mercy upon me, a sinner", was usually repeated by Catholic penitents during confession (Orthodox Christians will recognize the same general wording in the Jesus Prayer.) They would have known, too, that the formula meum est propositum "I am resolved to..." was normally followed by a list of sins the penitent would avoid. The Archpoet replaces peccator "sinner" with potator "drinker, lush" to an effect that is quite hilarious and quite impossible to carry into English satisfactorily. So here I have imported the Latin line wholesale, which seemed in keeping with the aesthetic I wanted. But I also included an alternate English translation that can also be recited in its place.

5 - The phrasing is based on 1 Corinthians 7:7. For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that. The Archpoet is substituting the (feminine) Nature for the (masculine) God, setting the former up as a counter to the latter.

6 - Jove (Iovis, a late latin nominative singular remodeled on the Latin -i stem) is in Medieval Latin often used interchangeably with God (Deus.) Here, however, the pagan associations of the word are clearly also to the point. It has been suggested that the use of Jove is simply for rhyme, and that the Christian God alone is the referent. Leaving aside the fact that this tremendously underrates and ignores the Archpoet's ability for subversive polysemy, if anything the words' use as a rhyme-word simply renders it all the more prominent. A passage of scripture is here paraphrased from 1 Samuel 16:7 for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.

7- "Like unto a newborn babe" (Latin: Quasi modo genitus) the opening words of the mass for the first Sunday after Easter, when all infants born during Lent are traditionally baptized. The Hunchback of Notre Dame, incidentally, gets his name from this phrase.

8 - The Archpoet calls Rainald the "Archbishop Elect" here hinting jokingly at his patron's recent  excommunication. Rainald had, from Rome's point of view, ceased to be a true archbishop once he had been formally separated from the Church's communion, and thus his technical episcopal status is questionable. Which doesn't stop the Archpoet from treating him, in hilarious jest, as a legitimate confessor.

The Original: 

Confessio Papiensis

Aestuans intrinsecus ira vehementi
in amaritudine loquor meae menti.(Job 10:1)
factus de materia levis elementi
folio sum similis, de quo ludunt venti.(Job 13:25)

Cum sit enim proprium viro sapienti,
supra petram ponere sedem fundamenti,(Luke 6:48)
stultus ego comparor fluvio labenti,
sub eodem aere numquam permanenti.

Feror ego veluti sine nauta navis,
ut per vias aeris vaga fertur avis;(Wisdom 5:10-11)
non me tenent vincula, non me tenet clavis,
quaero mei similes et adiungor pravis.

Mihi cordis gravitas res videtur gravis,
iocus est amabilis dulciorque favis.
quidquid Venus imperat, labor est suavis,
quae numquam in cordibus habitat ignavis.(Tibullus 1.2.23)

Via lata gradior more iuventutis,(Matthew 7:13)
implico me vitiis immemor virtutis,
voluptatis avidus magis quam salutis,
mortuus in anima curam gero cutis.(St. Augustine, De Civitate Dei XIII.21.30)

Praesul discretissime, veniam te precor,
morte bona morior, dulci nece necor,
meum pectus sauciat puellarum decor,
et quas tactu nequeo, saltem corde moechor.(Matthew 5:28)

Res est arduissima vincere naturam,
in aspectu virginis mentem esse puram;
iuvenes non possumus legem sequi duram
leviumque corporum non habere curam.

Quis in igne positus igne non uratur?
quis Papiae demorans castus habeatur,
ubi Venus digito iuvenes venatur,
oculis illaqueat, facie praedatur?

Si ponas Hippolytum hodie Papiae,
non erit Hippolytus in sequenti die.
Veneris in thalamos ducunt omnes viae,
non est in tot turribus turris Alethiae.

Secundo redarguor etiam de ludo,
sed cum ludus corpore me dimittit nudo,
frigidus exterius, mentis aestu sudo;
tunc versus et carmina meliora cudo.

Tertio capitulo memoro tabernam:
illam nullo tempore sprevi neque spernam,
donec sanctos angelos venientes cernam,
cantantes pro mortuis: «Requiem Aeternam.»

Meum est propositum in taberna mori,
ut sint vina proxima morientis ori;
tunc cantabunt laetius angelorum chori:
«Sit Deus propitius huic potatori.» (Luke 18:13, see also Ovid, Amores 2.10.29-38)

Poculis accenditur animi lucerna,
cor imbutum nectare volat ad superna.
mihi sapit dulcius vinum de taberna,
quam quod aqua miscuit praesulis pincerna.

Loca vitant publica quidam poetarum
et secretas eligunt sedes latebrarum,
student, instant, vigilant nec laborant parum,
et vix tandem reddere possunt opus clarum.

Ieiunant et abstinent poetarum chori,
vitant rixas publicas et tumultus fori,
et ut opus faciant, quod non possit mori,
moriuntur studio subditi labori.

Unicuique proprium dat Natura munus:(1 Corinthians 7:7)
ego numquam potui scribere ieiunus,(Martial 11.6.12-13)
me ieiunum vincere posset puer unus.
sitim et ieiunium odi tamquam funus.

Unicuique proprium dat Natura donum:
ego versus faciens bibo vinum bonum,
et quod habent purius dolia cauponum;
vinum tale generat copiam sermonum.

Tales versus facio, quale vinum bibo,
nihil possum facere nisi sumpto cibo;
nihil valent penitus, que ieiunus scribo,
Nasonem post calices carmine praeibo.

Mihi numquam spiritus prophetiae datur,
nisi prius fuerit venter bene satur;
dum in arce cerebri Bacchus dominatur,
in me Phoebus irruit et miranda fatur.

Ecce meae proditor pravitatis fui,
de qua me redarguunt servientes tui.
sed corum nullus est accusator sui,
quamvis velint ludere saeculoque frui.

Iam nunc in praesentia praesulis beati
secundum dominici regulam mandati
mittat in me lapidem neque parcat vati,
cuius non est animus conscius peccati.

Sum locutus contra me, quidquid de me novi,
et virus evomui, quod tam diu fovi.
vita vetus displicet, mores placent novi;
homo videt faciem, sed cor patet Iovi.(1 Samuel 16:7)

Iam virtutes diligo, vitiis irascor,
renovatus animo spiritu renascor;
quasi modo genitus novo lacte pascor,(1 Peter 2:2)
ne sit meum amplius vanitatis vas cor.

Electe Coloniae, parce paenitenti,
fac misericordiam veniam petenti,
et da paenitentiam culpam confitenti;
feram, quidquid iusseris, animo libenti.

Parcit enim subditis leo, rex ferarum,
et est erga subditos immemor irarum;
et vos idem facite, principes terrarum:
quod caret dulcedine, nimis est amarum.

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