Saturday, February 28, 2009

Chapter One, Stanza One: Stanley Mitchell (2008)

My uncle is a man of honour,
When in good earnest he fell ill,
He won respect by his demeanour
And found the role he best could fill.
Let others profit by his lesson,
But, oh my God, what desolation
To tend a sick many day and night
And not to venture form his sight!
What shameful cunning to be cheerful
With someone who is halfway dead,
To prop up pillows by his head,
To bring him medicine, looking tearful,
To sigh -- while inwardly you think:
When will the devil let him sink?

Chapter One, Stanza One: Tom Beck (2004)

'My uncle's acted very wisely,
to seek his bed when he's so sick;
his family's reacted nicely
and he's most happy with his trick.
He's set the world a good example,
which others would do well to sample,
but it's a bore, when night and day
the sick man forces you to stay!
To keep him sweet, as if he's dying,
give him his daily medicine
and make quite sure that it goes in,
adjust the pillows while one's sighing:
'Don't even think of getting well,
The devil take you, go to hell!'"

Chapter One, Stanza One: Douglas Hofstadter (1999)

"My uncle, matchless moral model,
When deathly ill, learned how to make
His friends respect him, bow and coddle --
Of all his ploys, that takes the cake.
To others, this might teach a lesson;
But Lord above, I'd feel such stress in
Having to sit there night and day,
Daring not once to step away.
Plus, I'd say, it's hypocritical
To keep the half-dead's spirits bright,
To plump his pillows till tehy're right,
Fetch his pills with tears veridical --
Yet in secret to wish and sigh,
'Hurry, dear Uncle, up and die!'"

Chapter One, Stanza One: James Falen (1990)

'My uncle, man of firm convictions...
By falling gravely ill, he's won
A due respect for his afflictions --
The only clever thing he's done.
May his example profit others;
But God, what deadly boredom, brothers,
To tend a sick man night and day,
Not daring once to steal away!
And, oh, how base to pamper grossly
And entertain the nearly dead,
To fluff the pillows for his head,
And pass him medicines morosely --
While thinking under every sigh:
The devil take you, Uncle. Die!'

Chapter One, Stanza One: Charles Johnston (1977)

'My uncle -- high ideals inspire him;
but when past joking he fell sick,
he really forced one to admire him --
and never played a shrewder trick.
Let others learn from his example!
But God, how deadly dull to sample
sickroom attendance night and day
and never stir a foot away!
And the sly baseness, fit to throttle,
of entertaining the half-dead:
one smooths the pillows down in bed,
and glumly serves the medicine bottle,
and sighs, and asks oneself all through:
"When will the devil come for you"'

Chapter One, Stanza One: Walter Arendt's Literal Translation (1972)

"My uncle of most honest principles,
When in good earnest he fell ill,
Compelled [others] to respect him,
And could not have contrived [a] better [way].
His example [is] a lesson to others;
But, oh my goodness, what a bore
With a sick man to sit both day and night,
Not going [off] even a step away!
What low cunning
To amuse one half alive,
Adjust the pillows for him,
Sadly bring up to him his medicine,
To sigh and think in private:
Come, when will the Devil take you?"

Chapter One, Stanza One: Vladimir Nabokov (1964, rev. 1975)

"My uncle has most honest principles:
when taken ill in earnest,
he has made one respect him
and nothing better could invent.
To others his example is a lesson;
but, good God, what a bore
to sti by a sick man both day and night,
without moving a step away!
What base perfidiousness
the half-alive one to amuse,
adjust for him the pillows,
sadly present the medicine,
sigh -- and think inwardly
when will the devil take you?"

Chapter One, Stanza One: Walter Arendt (1963, rev. 1978)

"Now that he is in grave condition,
My uncle, decorous old dunce,
Has won respectful recognition;
And done the perfect thing for once.
His action be a guide to others;
But what a bore, I ask you, brothers,
To tend a patient night and day
And venture not a step away:
Is there hypocracy more glaring
Than to amuse one all but dead,
Shake up the pillow for his head,
Dose him with melancholy bearing,
And think behind a public sigh:
'Duce take you, step on it and die!'"

Chapter One, Stanza One: Babette Deutsch (1936, rev. 1964)

'My uncle always was respected
But his grave illness, I confess,
Is more than could have been expected:
A stroke of genius, nothing less!
He offers all a fine example.
But, God, such boredom who would sample
As day and night to have to sit
Beside a sick-bed -- think of it!
Low cunning must assist devotion
To one who is but half-alive;
You puff his pillow and contrive
Amusement while you mix his potion;
You sigh and think with furrowed brow:
"Why can't the devil take you now?"'

Chapter One, Stanza One: Henry Spalding (1881)

"My uncle's goodness is extreme,
If seriously he hath disease;
He hath acquired the world's esteem
And nothing more important sees;
A paragon of virtue he!
But what a nuisance it will be,
Chained to his bedside night and day
Without a chance to slip away.
Ye need dissimulation base
A dying man with art to soothe,
Beneath his head the pillow smooth,
And physic bring with mournful face,
To sigh and meditate alone:
When will the devil take his own!"

Chapter One, Stanza One: Original Russian

«Мой дядя самых честных правил,
Когда не в шутку занемог,
Он уважать себя заставил
И лучше выдумать не мог.
Его пример другим наука;
Но, боже мой, какая скука
С больным сидеть и день и ночь,
Не отходя ни шагу прочь!
Какое низкое коварство
Полуживого забавлять,
Ему подушки поправлять,
Печально подносить лекарство,
Вздыхать и думать про себя:
Когда же черт возьмет тебя!»

Chapter One, Stanza Sixty, Final Couplet: Lightning Round

И заслужи мне славы дань:
Кривые толки, шум и брань!

-- original Russian text

Enjoy the meed which Fame bestows--
Misunderstanding, words and blows.

-- Henry Spalding

[...Go, my dear creation:]
Be sentenced by a crooked jury
And earn me fame and sound and fury.

-- Babette Deutsch

You'll earn me the rewards of fame:
Distorted judgments, noise and blame!

-- Walter Arendt, trans.

And deserve for me fame's tribute,
false interpretations, noise and abuse!

-- Vladimir Nabokov, trans.

earn for me the rewards of fame --
misunderstanding, noise, and blame!

-- Charles Johnston, trans.

And earn me tribute paid to fame:
Distorted readings, noise and blame!

-- James Fallen, trans.

And earn me glory's just deserts:
Hot air, vain noise, faint praise that hurts.

-- Douglas Hofstadter, trans.

And earn for me the prize of fame:
Falsification, noise and blame!

-- Stanley Mitchell, trans.