Saturday, November 26, 2016



Dante, Purgatorio 11.100-108 (tr. Dorothy L. Sayers, with her note):
A breath of wind — no more — is earthly fame,        100
   And now this way it blows and that way now,
   And as it changes quarter, changes name.

Ten centuries hence, what greater fame hast thou,
   Stripping the flesh off late, than if thou'dst died
   Ere thou wast done with gee-gee and bow-wow?        105

Ten centuries hence — and that's a briefer tide,
   Matched with eternity, than one eye-wink
   To that wheeled course Heaven's tardiest sphere must ride.

l. 105: ere thou wast done with "gee-gee" and "bow-wow": (lit. "with pappo and dindi" — baby-talk for "food" and "money"): "while you were still in the nursery".

Non è il mondan romore altro ch'un fiato        100
   di vento, ch'or vien quinci e or vien quindi,
   e muta nome perché muta lato.

Che voce avrai tu più, se vecchia scindi
   da te la carne, che se fossi morto
   anzi che tu lasciassi il 'pappo' e 'l 'dindi',        105

pria che passin mill'anni? ch'è piu corto
   spazio all'etterno, ch'un muover di ciglia
   al cerchio che più tardi in cielo è torto.
The same, tr. John Sinclair:
The world's noise is but a breath of wind which comes now this way and now that and changes name because it changes quarter.

What more fame shalt thou have if thou put off thy flesh when it is old than if thou hadst died before giving up pappo and dindi,

when a thousand years are past, which is a shorter space to eternity than the twinkling of an eye to the slowest-turning circle in the heavens?
The same, tr. Jean Hollander and Robert Hollander:
Worldly fame is nothing but a gust of wind,        100
first blowing from one quarter, then another,
changing name with every new direction.

Will greater fame be yours if you put off
your flesh when it is old than had you died
with pappo and dindi still upon your lips        105

after a thousand years have passed? To eternity,
that time is shorter than the blinking of an eye
is to one circling of the slowest-moving sphere.

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