Well, here it is -- my translation of Eliot's "Lune de Miel"
(or at least a first attempt.) I'm much happier with it than
I expected to be at this stage.
Like Raine's version, this is somewhat free, especially with the
verbs and their tenses. It was translated to fit my notion of
Eliot's having written a satire of two young people having just
enough money to do a semi-grand tour of the Continent. If he
wrote this today it might be about backpack carrying teenagers.
Actually, it was with that in mind that I chose to use "done"
in the first line.
I'll discuss the reasons why I translated as I did in response
to questions. Maybe I'll just inflict that on you anyway.
They've done the Low Countries and they're returning to Terre Haute;
But this summer night, they're here at Ravenna,
Resting between two sheets, amidst two hundred bedbugs,
Summer sweat, and a strong bitchy smell.
They lie on their backs, spreading open the knees
Of four very inflamed bug-bitten legs.
They raise the sheet to scratch better.
Less than a mile from here is Saint Apollinaire
En Classe, the basilica known by tourists
for its Corinthian capitals where the acanthus is windblown.
They will take the eight o'clock train
Extending their miseries from Padua on through Milan
Where they'll seek out Da Vinci's "Supper" (and a cheap restaurant.)
He'll think of the tips and do some accounting.
They have seen Switzerland and crossed France.
And Saint Apollinaire, unyielding and ascetic,
God's old unused factory, still retains,
among its worn stones, its definite Byzantine form.