Thursday, June 24, 2010

Translating Poetry

Hah! And you thought a previous column on poetry was a one off. I am not a poetry fan; have never been to a coffee house "poetry slam" (whatever that might be) and have no desire to go to one. But there are some poems that linger in my mind. Today's was written by Thomas Wyatt (1503 - 1542) which is a long time ago. Perhaps emotions were clearer back in those days.

But today's poem could as easily be named as "The Aging Movie/Rock Star's Lament" or "An Old Politician Reminisces." Good poetry translates to today.

They Flee From Me
They flee from me that sometime did me seek
With naked foot, stalking in my chamber.
I have seen them gentle, tame and meek,
That now are wild and do not remember
That sometimes they put themself in danger
To take bread at my hand; and now they range,
Busily seeking with a continued change.

Thanked be fortune it hath been otherwise
Twenty times better; but once in special
In thin array after a pleasant guise,
When her loose gown from her shoulders did fall
And she caught in her arms long and small;
Therewithall sweetly did me kiss
And softly said, "Dear Heart, how like you this?"

It was no dream; I lay broad waking.
But all is turned through my gentleness
Into a strange fashion of forsaking;
And I have leave to go of her goodness,
And she also, to use newfangledness.
But since that I so kindly am served
I would fain know what she hath deserved...

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