Friday, May 05, 2006

Friday poetry blogging: compare and contrast

These two poems always remind me of each other, even though they were written in different countries, different languages, three and a half centuries apart.

The Sunne Rising
John Donne

Busie old foole, unrulie Sunne
Why dost thou thus,
Through windowes, and through curtaines call on us
Must to thy motions lovers seasons run?
Sawcy pedantique wretch, goe chide
Late schoole boyes, and sowre prentices,
Goe tell Court-huntsmen, that the King will ride,
Call countrey ants to harvest offices;
Love, all alike, no season knowes, nor clyme,
Nor houres, dayes, moneths, which are the rags of time.

Thy beames, so reverend, and strong
Why shouldst thou thinke?
I could eclipse and cloud them with a winke,
But that I would not lose her sight so long:
If her eyes have not blinded thine,
Looke, and to morrow late, tell mee,
Whether both the India’s of spice and Myne
Be where thou leftst them, or lie here with mee.
Aske for those Kings whom thou saw’st yesterday,
And thou shalt heare, All here in one bed lay.

She is all States, and all Princes, I,
Nothing else is.
Princes doe but play us, compar’d to this,
All honor’s mimique; All wealth alchimie;
Thou sunne art halfe as happy’as wee,
In that the world’s contracted thus.
Thine age askes ease, and since thy duties bee
To warme the world, that’s done in warming us.
Shine here to us, and thou art every where;
This bed thy center is, these walls, thy spheare.

Sîne klâwen
Wolfram von Eschenbach

'Sîne klâwen
durch die wolken sint geslagen,
er stîget ûf mit grôzer kraft,
ich sih in grâwen
tegelîch, als er wil tagen,
den tac, der im geselleschaft
erwenden wil, dem werden man,
den ich mit sorgen în verliez.
ich bringe in hinnen, ob ich kan.
sîn vil manegiu tugent mich daz leisten hiez.'

'Wahtær, du singest
daz mir manege freude nimt
unde mêret mîne klage.
mær du bringest,
der mich leider niht gezimt,
immer morgens gegen dem tage.
diu solt du mir verswîgen gar!
daz gebiut ich den triuwen dîn.
des lôn ich dir als ich getar,
sô belîbet hie der geselle mîn.'

'Er muoz et hinnen
balde und âne sûmen sich.
nu gib im urloup, süezez wîp.
lâze in minnen
her nâch sô verholne dich,
daz er behalte êr unde den lîp.
er gab sich mîner triwe alsô,
daz ih in bræhte ouch wider dan.
ez ist nu tac. naht was ez dô
mit drucken an die brust dîn kus mir in an gewan.'

'Swaz dir gevalle,
wahtær, sinc, und lâ den hie,
der minne brâht und minne enphienc.
von dînem schalle
ist er und ich erschrocken ie,
sô ninder der morgenstern ûf gienc
ûf in, der her nâch minne ist komen,
noch ninder lûhte tages lieht,
du hâst in dicke mir benomen
von blanken armen, und ûz herzen nieht.'

Von den blicken,
die der tac tet durh diu glas,
und dô wahtære warnen sanc,
si muose erschricken
durch den, der dâ bî ir was.
ir brüstelîn an brust si dwanc.
der rîter ellens niht vergaz
des wold in wenden wahters dôn.
urloup nâh und nâher baz
mit kusse und anders gap in minne lôn.

His Claws
Wolfram von Eschenbach
(my translation)

"His claws
have sliced through the clouds,
he rises with huge strength,
I see him turn grey,
like dawn, just as it now will dawn:
the dawn, which wants to steal away
my company from the noble man
who I fearfully let in.
I will lead him away again, when I am able.
His many perfections mean I must do this."

"Guard, you are singing
and this takes from me much of my joy
and increases my sorrow.
You bring news
that sadly will not please me,
every morning at dawn:
You should just stay silent!
I demand this of your loyalty.
I will reward you as I am able,
then my beloved can stay here with me."

"He must leave,
right now and without delay.
Now say farewell, dear lady.
Let him hereafter
love you secretly
so that he can keep his honour and his life.
He has given himself into my care,
so that I can take him safely away from here.
It is now day. It was night when
pressed to each other's breast, your kiss took him from me."

"Whatever you desire,
guard, sing of it and leave him here
who brought me love and took love from me.
By your cries
he and I are always startled,
when not even the morning star has risen
above him who had come here seeking love,
nor yet has daylight begun to show.
You have often taken him from my arms
but not from my heart."

The looks
that the day gave them through the window
and the warning song of the guard
brought her fear
for him who was there with her.
Her breast was pressed to his.
The knight recalled his strength..
The song of the guard was to stop him
Parting was near and coming nearer,
With kisses and other gifts, love rewarded him.


turtlebella said...

OK, I am too clueless to actually comment on the poems, although I did really like the second one. But it made me you study poetry as part of your academic linguistics life? It made me think of a novel I once read where the main character was, for part of the book, a linguistics grad student who studied poetry. I didn't understand that part of the book at all! But I still loved it- Ahdaf Soueif's In the Eye of the Sun.

StyleyGeek said...

I haven't read that book. Sounds like I should.

Actually I don't study poetry as part of linguistics, but I took a lot of English literature courses as an undergrad, including Old English, and then when I studied in Germany we had to have two majors, so my second one was Medieval German literature.

Some linguists look at poetry if they are studying a historical stage of a language and poetry is the only (or main) remaining text from that period. But on the whole linguists shun poetry, since we are interested mainly in the language as it was spoken, and poetry is usually quite far removed from this.

StyleyGeek said...

I should also have said that you shouldn't think of yourself as clueless if you can't find something profound to say about the connection between the poems. I don't think there really is a connection any deeper than that they are both about lovers being woken at dawn. There's no real reason they should remind me of each other except that I once thought of them both in some sort of lateral thinking, dreamy leaping logic type way and I tend to fixate on things like that.