by Thomas Campion
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch
Booksellers laud authors for novel editions
as pimps praise their whores for exotic positions.
This is my translation of a Latin epigram by the English poet Thomas Campion. In Campion’s era some English poets continued to write poems in Latin and/or Greek. For instance, John Milton and Andrew Marvell wrote poems in Latin, while Shakespeare was criticized by Ben Jonson, if I remember things correctly, for having “little” Greek and Latin.
Not being “versed” in the senior languages was seen as a deficiency in literary circles back then. Shakespeare was called an “upstart crow” for daring to write “litter-chure” without a proper university degree. How could he properly quote the ancients if he couldn’t read them in their original languages? The Bard of Avon was doomed to failure and obscurity … or perhaps not, since the English language was finally in vogue in England (where for centuries English kings had been unable to read, write or even speak the mother tongue, preferring French, Latin and Greek).
My title is a bit of a pun, because novels were new to the world when they first arrived, and were thus considered by the literary elites to be “novelties” not on par with more serious verse plays. Some of the more popular early novels were “subversive” (pardon the pun) explorations of sexual naughtiness, through characters like Tom Jones, Moll Flanders, et al.
Campion probably didn’t have such campy (enough with the puns, already!) novels in mind when he wrote his epigram, since the more titillating (cease! desist!) ones had yet to arrive. But perhaps he would prove to be a “profit” (I’m udderly hopeless!).
Keywords/Tags: Campion, Latin, translation, exotic, exoticism, epigram, novels, novelties, book, books, booksellers, publishers, write, writing, author, authors, poet, poets, poetry, poems, pimps, whores, prostitutes, prostitution, exotic, positions, extended metaphor
Copyright © Michael Burch | Year Posted 2020
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