Tuesday, December 15, 2009

My ideas ran away with themselves!

No love for Infidel Poetics?  Ok, one last excerpt, then.

Stéphane Mallarmé, as you many know and as Daniel Tiffany points out, "toiled as a young writer in one of poetry's frivolous underworlds, the topsy-turvy [and lyrically-obscure] realm of Mother Goose, converting 141 English nursery rhymes into veritable prose poems...  He produced these nursery rhymes for his day job as an English teacher..."

Thus -

Hey! diddle, diddle,
The cat and the fiddle,
The cow jumped over the moon;
The little dog laughed
To see such sport
While the dish ran after the spoon.

... becomes the following, in Tiffany's translation of Mallarmé's French prose version:

What a strange scene!  Look at the cat with his violin - and that's not all: there's the moon, and a cow jumping right over it!  I act like the little dog, laughing hard to see such foolishness.  And then it seemed to me, as I contemplated this spectacle, that my ideas ran away with themselves,  one after another just as - in the words of the song - the dish runs after the spoon.  Hey! diddle, diddle.

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