Friday, February 24, 2006

Much ado about English thangs oh, and that Shakespeare guy

So as a random little project, I wondered what Shakespeare might look like if
it was translated into Modern English. I chose the opening soliloquy by Romeo when he enters the Capulet garden for the famous balcony scene. This seemingly easy task took on an added dimension when I found out that this is really a speech criticizing Queen Elizabeth. How does one translate text that metaphor laid upon metaphor? Thinking about how difficult it is to translate from Renaissance English to Modern English, I have got to wonder how anyone can possibly think the Bible is properly translated from ancient Hebrew to ancient Greek to Latin and then to all the different languages around the world. Well, here’s my attempt at translating this one small section of Shakespeare. BTW, I didn’t keep the original meter because that exercise is pointless. If anyone has any comments on this, I’m perfectly willing to adjust it.

What’s that light suddenly appearing in the window over there?
It’s dawn and, and Juliet is the sun.
Rise up, brilliant sun and put down the envious moon,
Who is already sick and pale with grief,
Because you, her servant, are way more brilliant than her
Stop being her servant because she’s the one who is envious of you;
Her virginal regal outfit is nothing but sick and green
Only idiots wear it. Get rid of it!
It’s my woman. Yo, it’s my love!
I wish she knew it!
She speaks but says nothing. What’s up with that?
Her eyes glance my way, she wants to talk! Finally, it’s time.
Oops, my bad. She can’t see me. She doesn’t know I’m here.
The two most brilliant stars in all heaven,
Going away on some business, beg her eyes
To shine their twinkle until they come back.
What if her eyes remained on her face?
The brightness of her check would way outshine those stars,
As daylight does to a lamp; her eyes do to the stars in heaven
If the atmosphere was filled with her glow
The birds would sing and think it was not night.
Look how she leans her cheek upon her hand!
Oh, I wish I was a glove on that hand,
So I could touch that cheek!

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