Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Lute of Eros

by Francis Kazinczi
translated by Sir John Bowring

Add te Pyschéd' nekem, 'Eros, oh add ! 's vedd lautomat érte.

" Give me thy Psyche, young Eros! O give, and my lute will I give thee—
Doubled thy influence, Mighty One! doubled thy transports shall be."
I, for thy lute, give my Psyche, Apollo? My lute is mine arrow:
Said—and straight heaven-ward the magical arrow up flew;
Full on hexameters rush'd the arrow's loud whizzing ascension,
And as it whispering fell a pentameter woke.

This is from Sir John Bowring's Poetry of the Magyars. Hexameters ascending and pentameters descending is actually a good symbolic correspondence. I haven't found much on Francis Kazinczi of Kazinez (Kazinezi Kazinczy Ferencz) except that he apparently spent six years in prison for revolutionary ideas and that he was part of a movement of Hungarian writers in the 18th century, the neologists or neologians, who worked to enrich and nativize the Hungarian language by coining new terms from Hungarian to replace foreign loan-words that had become increasingly common; a movement which (perhaps predictably) only had very limited success. Bowring developed a considerable reputation in the nineteenth century for translations into English from European languages: I've found translations by him from Russian, Hungarian, Polish, German, and Spanish. I've been trying to find Bowring's "Catherine," which is based on a poem by Zhukovsky, but to no avail.

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