Looking for lines

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Looking for lines

Postby johndoe » Fri Aug 15, 2008 7:33 am

Hi,

I am translating a passage about European arts into English and come across a Chinese translation of two lines from one of Keats' poems ... Would anyone be so kind to identify this poem for me?

Here's how the two lines look like when translated back into English:

Look at those figures in that eastern temple,
The great stars in westerners' eyes,
Worship them!


According to the writer, the poem is about how the Elgin/Parthenon Marbles affected the revitalization of classical arts.

Thank you in advance!!
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Re: Looking for lines

Postby Malia » Fri Aug 15, 2008 2:19 pm

Hi johndoe :)

I believe I have discovered the poem you are trying to identify. First, I think it is a feat to try and translate Keats into any language--I would think his work is difficult to translate . . .especially into an Eastern language like Chinese (but then I may be wrong, as I know nothing about how to translate :LOL:) So, good luck in your work! I believe the last two lines of the following poem reflect the translation you posted. Anyway, here's the poem in full:

To Haydon with a Sonnet Written on Seeing the Elgin Marbles

Forgive me, Haydon, that I cannot speak
Definitively on these mighty things;
Forgive me that I have not eagle's wings--
That what I want I know not where to seek:
And think that I would not be overmeek
In rolling out upfollow'd thunderings,
Even to the steep of Heliconian springs,
Where I of ample strength for such a freak.
Think too that all those numbers should be thine;
Whose else? In this who touch thy vesture's hem?
For when men star'd at what was most divine
With browless idiotism--o'erweening phlegm--
Thou hast beheld the Hesperean shine
On their star in the east and gone to worship them.
Stay Awake!
--Anthony deMello
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Re: Looking for lines

Postby Malia » Fri Aug 15, 2008 4:29 pm

Thinking it over, I wonder if your translated lines could reflect Ode on a Grecian Urn, which was also inspired (in part) by the Elgin Marbles and certainly refers to antiquity and classical times. I don't know exactly where the lines you listed would fit into this poem, however. Might be worth checking out the Ode to see if those translated lines might reflect lines Keats wrote in the Ode.
Stay Awake!
--Anthony deMello
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Re: Looking for lines

Postby Credo Buffa » Fri Aug 15, 2008 4:38 pm

I concur, Malia. It looks like it has the flavor of "Ode on a Grecian Urn." Perhaps this stanza might evoke images of a "temple" and "worship" as found in the translation:

Who are these coming to the sacrifice?
To what green altar, O mysterious priest,
Lead'st thou that heifer lowing at the skies,
And all her silken flanks with garlands drest?
What little town by river or sea-shore,
Or mountain-built with peaceful citadel,
Is emptied of its folk, this pious morn?
And, little town, thy streets for evermore
Will silent be; and not a soul, to tell
Why thou art desolate, can e'er return.
"Holy Kleenex, Batman! It was right under our nose and we blew it!"
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Re: Looking for lines

Postby johndoe » Sat Aug 16, 2008 5:08 am

Hi Malia and Credo,

Thank you for your reply! I think the last two lines of the Sonnet fit in quite well with the Chinese version I encounter...

From my point of view, translating backwards (especially for literature) is really an impossible task, just like putting a piece paper full of words through the fax machine twice then soak it in water ... not to mention that it is a masterpiece from Keats :)

Anyway I really appreciate your efforts to help me find out the original version!
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