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BRITISH-IRISH-POETS  1998

BRITISH-IRISH-POETS 1998

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Subject:

Theocritus: Cyclops (standard version)

From:

"Jon Corelis" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Jon Corelis

Date:

Sun, 12 Apr 98 09:50:51 PDT

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (111 lines)

   I'm surprised the issue of phonetics in my Theocritus has become so
contentious.  I originally wrote the piece with that orthography to make
sure that readers would see the dialectical play at work, but then I
rewrote it in standard orthography for no other reason than that I
decided the first version was too hard too read. (As I mentioned the
choice to publish the original version was the editor's, to whom I
submitted both.) Since there has been some discussion of this, I append
the regularized version in case anyone wants to see it by way of
comparison.

   I'm grateful for all the comments and will follow them, though I
don't propose to insert myself into the controverseys.  The author's
intentions are too obscure to me for me to offer any useful
interpretation of them.

===========================================

Theocritus:  Cyclops


When you're in love, ain't no cure gonna help,
Nikias, way I reckon:  not no salve,
no liniment, 'cept'n for the Pierian maids.
They got them a medicine that's sweet and mild,
but hard to come by.  Shucks, you know all that,
'count'a being a doc yourself, and the Muses' darling.
Least, that's how our Cyclops eased his time
as a young'un, with scarce a whisker on his chin,
old Polyphemus, when he loved Galatea.
He didn't send flowers or fruits or locks of hair,
-- he was too het up to send anything but love!
His sheep high-tailed it back to their pens alone
from the grazing grounds, while he sung Galatea,
just wasting in the seaweed on the beach
from dawn to dusk, his heart just fit to bust,
since the Love Queen sent her arrow in his guts.
But he found him a cure.  On some high rock,
he'd sit looking over the sea, and sing like this:

"Aw honey, how come you don't want your lover?
You're white as curds, and softer than a lamb,
cute as a calf, and sleeker than a green grape.
You come to me when sweet sleep holds me tight,
and run off soon as sweet sleep lets me go,
like some scared sheep from some grey wolf she's seen.
I done fell plumb in love, girl, that first time
you came by with my Ma, so's I could take
the both of you hyacinth picking in the hills.
I ain't been able to shake you out of my mind
since then, but you don't give a two cent darn.
I know why you run off, you sweet little thing:
it's 'count my one big shaggy old eyebrow
that stretches cross my face from ear to ear,
with one eye under, and my plug-ugly nose.
Well, whatever I'm like, I feed a thousand cattle,
and get bodacious milk from them to drink.
I got me cheese in summer and in fall,
and even in dead of winter.  My pantry's busting!
And ain't no other 'klops plays pipes like me
-- I stay up way late singing 'bout me and you,
my candy-apple!  And I'm raising eleven fawns
for you, with cute little collars, and four bear cubs.
Now come to me -- what all you got to lose?
Let that blue ocean splash against the shore;
you'll spend night sweeter in my cave with me.
There's laurel grows there, pretty cypresses,
dark ivy, and the vine with its sweet fruit,
and a cool stream foresty Aetna sends to me
from its white snows -- a drink that would tickle the gods.
Instead of all this, who'd want the sea and waves?
But if you just can't stand my shaggy hide,
I got oak firewood and a smoldering grate:
I'd let you burn me right down to my soul,
and even my one eye, my pride and joy.
Shoot, wish my Ma had borne me fixed with gills,
so's I could dive right and and kiss your hand,
or your lips, if you'd allow.  And I'd have brung
white lilies for you, or poppies with broad red petals.
(You see, one's a summer flower, and the other's winter,
so's ain't no way I could bring them both at once.)
Little gal, leastways I'll learn to swim right now,
or would, if someone sailed here in a ship,
so's I'd know why y'all love that ocean life.
Come on out, Galatea, and forget,
like I have sitting here, to go back home.
Sure wish you'd want to tend my flocks with me,
and milk them and make cheese with powerful rennet.
My Ma's done this to me; it's all her fault.
She won't put me no good word in with you,
though every day she sees me pine away.
I'll tell her I got the miseries in my head
and both my feet, so's she'll feel bad like me.
Aw, Cyclops -- why are you flying off the handle?
If you'd go weave your baskets and gather branches
to bring your lambs, you'd be a heap sight smarter.
Just milk the cow you got:  don't chase what's running.
There's other Galateas, maybe prettier.
There's lots of girls call me at night to play,
and they all start giggling when I answer back.
It looks like I'm still someone on the land!"

So that's how Polyphemus tended love
with song, and got him peace no cash could buy.

                  -- translated from the Greek by Jon Corelis

To:  BRITPOE([log in to unmask])


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