[Translator's Note: Theocritus was the first poet to exploit the
resources of dialect, writing many of his poems in a form of Doric, a
dialect of Greek which to his educated contemporaries carried
associations with an old-fashioned, rustic, and vigorous world, much as
the speech of the American south suggests to an American ear, or, I
suppose, as Scots might sound to Southern British. Theocritus's Doric,
however, was not an imitation of the actual Doric Greek which was
spoken in his era, but was a literary dialect based on Doric
characteristics, which Theocritus invented especially for use in
bringing to life rustic personae in a pastoral setting. I've tried to
emulate Theocritus in my translation by inventing an artificial
contemporary dialect based on stereotypical American rural southern
When yoah in luhv, ain no cure gohna hep,
Nikias, way ah reckin, not no salve,
no liniment, ceptn foh the Pee-yerian maids.
They got tham a medicine thet's sweet an mahld,
but hahd tuh come bah. Sheeyucks, yew know all thet,
counta bein a doc yoh sef, an the Muses' dahlin.
Least, thet's hah ouah Sahklops eased his tahm,
a youngn, with scarce a whiskuh on his chihyin,
ol Polyphemus, when he luhvd Galatea.
He dint sand flarhs or fruits or locks uh heyah,
-- he wuz tew het up tuh sand ennithang but luhv!
His sheep hah-tailed it back tuh they pens alone
fum the grazin grouns, while he sung Galatea,
jes wastin in the seaweed on the beach,
fum dawn tuh dusk, his hawht jes fit tuh bust,
sance the Luhv Quane sant huh arruh in his guts.
But he foun him a cure. On some hah rock,
he'd sit lookin ovuh the sea, and sang lahk this:
Aw honey, hah come yew don wahn yoh luvvuh?
Yoah whaht as cuhds, an sohftah then a laim,
cute as a calf, an sleeker n' a green grayup.
Yew come tuh me when sweet sleep holds me taht,
an run off soon as sweet sleep laits me go,
lahk some scairt sheep fum some grey wolf she's seen.
Ah done fell plum in luhv, gal, thet fust tahm
yew came bah with mah Maw, so's Ah cud take
the both uh yuh hahyasanth-pickin in the hills.
Ah ain been able tuh shake yew outah mah mahnd
sanse then, but yew dohn give a two-sant darn.
Ah know whah yew run off, yew sweet lil thang:
it's count mah one big shaggy ol ah-brow
thet straitches cross mah face fum eah tuh eah,
with one ah unduh, an mah plug-ugly nose.
Wal, whuhtevvuh Ah'm lahk, ah feed a thousan cattle,
an git bodacious milk fum tham tuh drank.
Ah got me cheese in summah an in fall,
an even in daid uh wintuh. Mah pantry's bustin!
An ain no othuh 'klops plays pahps lahk me
-- ah stay up way late sanging bout me an yew,
mah candy-apple! An Ah'm raisin 'leven fawns
foh yew, with cute lil collahs, an foah beah cubs.
Nah come tuh me -- whut all yew got tuh lose?
Let thet blue ocean splaish aginst the shoah;
yew'll spand naht sweetuh in mah cave with me.
They's laurel grows thar, purty sahpresses,
dahk ahvy, an the vahn with its sweet fruit,
an a cool strame foresty Aetna sands tuh me
fum its whaht snows -- a drank thet'd tickle the gods.
Stead uh all this, who'd want the sea an waves?
But ef yew jes caint staind mah shaggy hide,
Ah got oak fahrwood an a smoulderin grate:
Ah'd let yew buhn me raht dahn tuh mah soul,
an even mah one ah, mah prahd an joy.
Shoot, wisht mah Maw had bohn me fixed with gills,
so's Ah cud dahv raht dahn an kiss yoh hain,
or yoh lips, ef you'd 'llow. An I'd uh brung
whaht lilies fuh yew, oh poppies with broad raid pettils.
(Y'see, one's a summuh flahr, an t'othuh's wintah,
so's ain no way ah cud brang uhm both at once.)
Lil gal, leastways Ah'll lahrn tuh swam raht naow,
oh wud, ef summun'ud sail heah in a ship,
so's Ah'd know whah y'all luhv thet ocean lahf.
Come ohn out, Galatea, an fergit,
lahk Ah have sittin heah, tuh go back home.
Shoh wisht yew'd wahnt tuh tand mah flocks with me,
and milk tham and make cheese with powfuhl rennet.
Mah Maw's done this tuh me; it's all huh fault.
She won't put me no good word in with yew,
though ever day she sees me pahn away.
Ah'll tell her Ah got the miseries in mah haid
an both mah feet, so's she'll feel bad lahk me.
Aw Sahklops, whah're yew flahin off the haindle?
Ef yew'd go weave yoh baiskits, an gathuh branches
tuh brang yoh laims, yew'd be a heap saht smahtah.
Jes milk the cow yew got. Dohn chase whut's runnin.
They's othuth Galateas, mebbe purtier.
They's lots uh gals call me at naht tuh play,
an they all staht gigglin when Ah ansah back.
It looks lahk Ah'm still someone on the laind!
So thet's how Polyphemus tanded luhv
with song, an got him peace no cash cud bah.
-- translated from the Greek by Jon Corelis
originally published in The Dark Horse
(Ayrshire & New York)
To: BRITPOE([log in to unmask])