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© Ryan Gallagher for MHS AP Lit 1

Poetry in translation project, with comparative translation meta-cognitive

Name:____________________________

Cover Sheet.

The following items are due on 10.5.09 in the following order:

• Original poem (typed or photocopied) with brief (100 – 150 word) biography of author of
original poem, only to put poem in context.
• Your translation of the poem.
• Word by word translation of the poem (with any notes.)
• One alternative translation by another author.
• Your first draft (all copies with peer comments from class critique)
• Your meta-cognitive which explains the choices you made when translating the poem
into contemporary American English & compares your translation with another
translation of the same poem. Recommended length: 3-6 pages.

Process for translations: (you will need a copy for each of us during your critique session)

• Type original poem, paying close attention to replicate all aspects of the poem—from
punctuation, capitalization, spelling, spacing & format on the page.
• Copy and paste poem onto another page leaving plenty of space between the lines and
words.
• Look up every word in the dictionary (no matter how simple) and give word by word
definitions; include any notes where necessary.
• Translate the poem into contemporary American English.

Grading criteria:

• All of your work, including your final translation, will be graded for homework credit (50
points. You will receive 100% if all of the above criteria is met perfectly; 85% if criteria
is mostly met; 70 % if there were many mistakes in following process & criteria; 60 % if
translation was completed, but student did not follow the criteria of process listed above.
• You will receive a SLD grade based on you participation in critique sessions (20 points a
day.) See SLD rubric.
• Your meta-cognitive will be graded on the APE rubric and be counted as a ‘Major Project
& / or Paper’.
© Ryan Gallagher for MHS AP Lit 2

Example:

1. Original: (bring one copy for each of us in class.)

LXXV

Odi et amo. quare id faciam, fortasse requires.


nescio, sed fieri sentio et excrucior.

Gaius Valerius Catullus

2. Word–by-word translation: (bring one copy for each of us in class.)

Odi et amo quare id faciam, fortasse requires.


(I) v. & (I) v. Why, This that it (I) v. adv. (you) v.
to hate, to to love how, etc. to act, perhaps, to ask,
be etc… (pronoun) behave, possibly,
displeased, begins a deal, and maybe
etc. question. a million
other
general
action
verbs

nescio, sed fieri sentio et excrucior.


(I) v. (I) v. (I) v. Excrucio:
not to but To come To discern & v. to
know, to into by the torment
be being, senses, to greatly,
ignorant arise, hear, feel, torture to
of come see etc. to death
about be experience (physical
made, or mental)
become,
etc
© Ryan Gallagher for MHS AP Lit 3

3. ‘Poetic’ Translation: (bring one copy for each of us in class.)

85

I hate and love. Why? You want to know why?


I don’t know, but I feel fire and pain.

Ryan Gallagher (© 2008, translated in 1999.)

4. Alternative translations: (bring one copy for each of us in class.)

F.W. Cornish (1903):

I hate and love. Why I do so, perhaps you ask. I know not, but I feel it, and I am in torment.

Ezra Pound (1963):

I hate and love. Why? You may ask but


It beats me. I feel it done to me, and ache.

James Michie (1969):

I hate and love. If you ask me to explain


The contradiction,
I can’t, but I can feel it, and the pain
Is crucifixion.

Louis & Celia Zukofsky (1969): a homeophonic translation

O th’hate I move love. Quarry it fact I am, for that’s so re queries.


Nescience, say th’ fiery scent I owe whets crookeder.

Jacob Rabinowitz (1991)

I love her and hate her at the same time.


How is that possible? I don’t know.
It just is, and it nails me,
hurting and helpless
like a crucified slave.

Peter Green (2005):

I hate and love. You wonder, perhaps, why I’d do that?


I have no idea. I just feel it. I am crucified.
© Ryan Gallagher for MHS AP Lit 4

Translation schedule: Please come with your packet pre-collated, as we don’t have time to
waste handing materials out.

___________________ (Day 1) 9.23.09





___________________ (Day 2) 9.24.09



___________________ (Day 3) 9.29.09



___________________ (Day 4) 9.29.09




___________________ (Day 5) 9.29.09



Some of my thoughts on translating the poem:

Poem 85, possibly Catullus’ most famous poem despite its brevity, begins “Odi et amo”, or “I
hate and I love”. We obviously lack the pronunciation of how this poem would have sounded
from the mouth of an ancient Roman citizen, but we do know that this first phrase, “Odi et amo”
would have been elided in the Latin, combining the two vowels “i” and “e” to fit the meter of the
line. Orally, this speeds up the phrase, possibly offering an alternative meaning when it is heard
as “S/he hates, I love”. But more obviously, these two disparate feelings of hate and love come
closer together simply because the line speeds up. Catullus shows that these feelings can exist
simultaneously in his mind without conflict: negative capability. He also stresses in the couplet
that his source of creation may also be the same source of his intense suffering. In mythology, it
was Discord who threw the apple.1

1
The myth of Discord and the Golden Apple could be an endless source for interpretation throughout this manuscript. In any case, Discord
tossed a golden apple on the wedding table of Peleus and Thetis (also in Poem 64). Paris gets to choose who will possess the apple: Aphrodite,
Athena, and Hera who promise him beautiful women, wealth, or power. Paris chooses Aphrodite who introduces him to Helen, the most
beautiful woman in the world. This also becomes a source of the Trojan War.