Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Sonnet 56: Homosyntactic Translation

Here's the third of 56 versions of Shakespeare's sonnet. The constraint is to replace all the major parts of speech, nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs, with other words of the same kind, leaving only the syntax as the architecture upon which to rebuild. In this case, part of the artifice is not to take a playful tone but rather a serious one. This is one of my favorite works in the series, especially the tone shift it offers after Noun Plus Seven.

Homosyntactic Translation

Bright winter, withhold your warmth; even though
Your grass is often greener than summer,
Which recently the snow made cold,
Today it’s frozen in a lovely whiteness.

And when love cuts us, tomorrow heals
Our frantic wounds, and love darkens with kindness.
Yesterday lives today and won’t exchange
Its gift of life for a lasting strangeness.

Make our dark words, like oceans breaking,
Avoid that world, where hearts freshly broken
Slowly leave their beds. For when love senses
The turning of desire, the cold is everlasting.

Or blame the summer. While sleeping under ground,
It forgives winter’s seizure, three times named and forgotten.


Post a Comment

<< Home