Friday, May 02, 2008

652. Translation - Howard Nemerov

Anima quodammodo omnia,

How lovely and exact the fit between
The language and the thing it means to say.
In English all but the sense evaporates:
The soul is in a manner all there is.
What's that but a poor thin mingy thing
Fit for the brain alone? Where is that world,
Where did it go, in which they said those things
And sang those things in their high halls of stone?
Vanished utterly, and we have instead
The world is everything that is the case,
That's flat enough to satisfy no one
After the lonely longings of plainsong"
In paradisum deducant te angeli,
What's that in other syllables and modes,
Now angels lead thee into paradise?
It still may draw a tremor and a tear
Sometimes, if only for its being gone,
That untranslatable, translated world
Of the Lady and the singers and the dead.

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