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TSE  July 2001

TSE July 2001

Subject:

Re: Puns and the point

From:

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Date:

Mon, 23 Jul 2001 22:37:45 +0100

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If I can add a comment here,

in some places of TWL, Eliot does not keep the original language, but
chooses instead to express similar concepts with different words. Easy to
identify is the paraphrase from Dante Alighieri, in verse 63, which is
almost a copy of the original:

I had not thought death had undone so many

This is from Hell III, 55 in the Divine Comedy.
(And there, behind it, marched so long a file
Of people, I would never have believed
That death could have undone so many souls.)
(e dietro le vena s lunga tratta
di gente, ch'i' non averei creduto
che morte tanta n'avesse disfatta.)

and another one at Verse 220:
At the violet hour, the evening hour that strives
Homeward, and brings the sailor home from sea

This should be from Sappho, according with my notes to the text. However,
it recalls strongly to memory the verses of Dante, again, from Purgatory,
VIII, 1-5. By the way, does anybody know the terms of the citation from Sappho?

(It was the hour that turns seafarers' longings
homeward-the hour that makes their hearts grow tender
upon the day they bid sweet friends farewell;
the hour that pierces the new traveler
with love when he has heard, far off, the bell
that seems to mourn the dying of the day;)

(Era gi l'ora che volge il disio
ai navicanti e 'ntenerisce il core
lo d c' han detto ai dolci amici addio;
e che lo novo peregrin d'amore
punge, se ode squilla di lontano
che paia il giorno pianger che si more;)

The meaning is opposite, in a way: for Dante, the sailors are trying to get
ready for a long journey, the opposite of going back home. Longing for
home, just like Tiresias.

Maybe Eliot uses material from other poems in two different ways: by citing
the precise words when he wants to retain the exact meaning and the
original language. When he is just using again a concept, or poetic images,
he uses English to paraphrase, wanting to express a different meaning. Is
this already a pun? even if there is no intention of humor?

For me, <voix d'enfants> recalls the <Children Choirs> of feminine voices,
that are still very popular in the UK: attached to almost each Cathedral
there is a public school running from elementary up to the end of high
school. The children are educated musically to attend the church choir as
sopranos and altos.

I must admit that my French is not very good. However, also in my opinion
the translation voix/parson seems very difficult.

Regards

Federica





At 15:45 23/07/01, you wrote:
>Steve Morse wrote:
>
> > But keeping the line in French allows for the pun "voix" to make that
> > allusion more ambiguous, if not humourous. Ambiguity certainly seems
> > to be the lifeblood of "The Waste Land."
>
>
>Sometimes Steve you just can't get an answer here.
>
>The problem you are having is that you are not getting an answer to
>the French translation. As far as I can tell a childish parson would
>be something like "voix enfantin" (and I'm taking your word on the the
>voix/parson translation.) Since I don't think "d'enfants" can be
>transposed to "childish" I think a French speaker would only see a pun
>of "ces voix d'enfants" being a play on "the children's parson."
>
>I don't *believe* either Verlaine or Eliot intended their readers too
>see a pun here. French speakers are welcome to correct me and also
>beat me with a baguette.
>
>Regards,
> Rick Parker

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