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Ezra Pound discussion list of the University of Maine <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 13 Jul 1998 08:19:57 -0400
Ezra Pound discussion list of the University of Maine <[log in to unmask]>
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Tim Romano <[log in to unmask]>
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The explanation you have suggested for the apparently
"slavish" translations is not incompatible with the one I
Though he was interested in translation and in Old English
poetry, Pound never wrote, as far as I recall, about
chiasmus as a formal element (though I'd like to be
corrected on this point if I'm wrong). So, I'll make just a
few remarks but would be happy to carry on a discussion
off-list with anyone who may be interested in these formal
Chiasmus is a common rhetorical feature of early medieval
religious writing, both poetry and prose. When one has
discerned how a work has been informed by chiasmus (this
requires sensitive reading only, not counting) then the
numbers do emerge in those works which belong to this
Take a look, if you like, at my web site, where I am
preparing an electronic critical edition of the poem known
as The Wanderer, as a case study. It's a work-in-progress
and the commentary has large gaps, but it's far enough along
to give you a fair sense of the poem's formal features. I do
read the poem somewhat differently than Howlett but by no
means do I part company with him.
Tim Romano
P.S. You'll need Netscape, or Internet Explorer v.4, to take
full advantage of the synchronized scrolling feature of the
Gregory Hays wrote:
> There's certainly much of interest in Howlett's book, but I'm not sure I'd
> want to buy into all his theories about chiasmus and word count. I'd have
> thought the explanation for the OE translators' literalness was more basic
> (and the same as for the Septuagint or the Latin versions). When one is
> translating the word of God, one changes as little as possible, however
> stilted or even unintelligible the result.
> Compare St. Jerome (epist. 57): "Ego ... profiteor, me in interpretatione
> Graecorum, absque Scripturis sanctis, ubi et verborum ordo mysterium est,
> non verbum e verbo, sed sensum exprimere de sensu." ("It is my boast that
> in translating from the Greek--EXCEPT from holy scripture, where even the
> order of the words is sacred--I do not translate word-for-word, but render
> the sense").