Apparatus Criticus to ‘The Excellent Wessex Event’

Timothy Ades

Winner of the Flamingofeather Long Poem Prize, 2013, it was published in Long Poem Magazine, 2014, to accompany The Excellent Wessex Event.
Apparatus Criticus to ‘The Excellent Wessex Event’
THE TEXT Le Texte Der Text Cette épenthèse sent le népenthès… et ce texte “se désenténèbre lentement” — de l’enfer! 1 THE MSS. Peter the Exegete remembers… The Ellesmere Ms emerged embedded between bergs; the ‘Leyden en Deventer’ Mss (they spend three weeks here, three there) were wedged between cheeses, where the gentle effervescence (the senescent whey) preserved them. 2 LE TEXTE RÉCEMMENT RECENSÉ. Recensent tres expertes: Greer, Bentley, Greenberg. 4 Egbert the Elder je préfère de le prétendre; en effet les frères descendèrent, entre trente–sept–cent trente–sept décédés et décédées, d’Éthelrède ‘the Redeless’. nec rex est, there’s never been, ‘Egbert the Elder’. Ethelbert de Kent certe rex est, sed egens, ne reges generet. 15 Les mecs de l’Éverdène: Térence déserte les tentes (regrets!); Peter s’emmêle (je répète: regrets!); elle se sert de l’excellent Lechêne. 19 her ewes needed helpmeets Exegetes; she needed ten shepherds Mss; shepherdesses Greer 20 Bergère: shepherdess, the French term. 21 they gentled Bentley; vented (skewered) Mss 25–46 she tests herself 29 reserved verse serves 39 reversed serve swerves! 29 Beckmesser: der Etepetete, den der Lerchenschmetternwettbewerb sehr, sehr ekelte. 30 wheezed/breezed/sneezed spelled went kvetched preened préférèrent les élèves 31 excellent — best Mss; peerless — the best ‘verbessert’ Werther 33 her épées: she’s the best fencer, she’s meddled: her level best resembles the peerless Beth Tweddle’s. These entered the event: sex bene vel septem se selegere merentes, / sed temere, gentes (entre elles les grecs et les ndébélé): deesse necesse gregem. 48 Twelve Regent Street temptresses fleeced Henley crews Mss: nec repetere nec vere credere decet. Westchester temptresses Greenberg; Nettlebed (près de Henley) Bentley; Benenden (ses élèves femelles!) Greer; Tennessee temptresses Dewey; serpent–necked nem. 52 ‘The perfect gent!’ — Ps. –Psell. 53 Bells Yew Green: neben der Grenze des Kent. Where’s Kent, then? Kent’s left leg nestles Essex, / The sweet remembered scene: The Chelmer, yes, the SX Press, / Well–tempered, well serene. The dexter leg: here’s Lewes, / Smeeth, Beckley, Bells Yew Green, The Seven She’s. Yes, Pevensey’s / Where Frenchmen steeled the scene. Well, Kent ferments elevenses, / She brews her beers, between. Ethelbert’s men were Kent men, (Newenden, Benenden, Tenterden, Bethersden): brewed the best beers, left fewest weeds. Yet Sheppey’s shepherds weep! They keep the blest Redeemer’s Beth–El creed, the ‘Feed these sheep’: Bethlehem feeds these men. The reckless, feckless Ethelbert never heeds. The Ebbsfleet sleeper speeds, he needs Sheerness, he gets defencelessness… Where Pegwell’s clement edge respects, reflects, the next recess, where the French vessels, et les belges, precede, rejects the pledge: the lengthened cheerless pebble–yells regress, the fleet creed ebbs, the lessened creed recedes. 59 The eldest texts prefer re–elvered…went eel–less; the newest, re–brent–geesed… went geeseless. Je schwerer der Text, dementsprechend verehrenswerter! These verses were never deleted. 61 the Trent: Le célèbre “Trent” fend le centre de l’Engleterre (bêtement épelée) et démêle nettement les évêchés. Certes ce Trent décéléré de M. Éverdène semble être dementgegen der sehr enge Trent des Westens, dessen Nennen der Mensch der Gegend stets verdreht, stets verpestet! 67 The desert’s extremest depths sheltered the blessed Ténéré Tree, between Fez, Meknès, et Le Bel Erg de l’Est… Elsewhere, the desert tree sees her desert tree brethren. Here, she never sees them! She’s — they’re — deserted. Well, then, yer feckless French feller necked seven treble beers, belched, held the wheel, pressed the self–server, de–clenched, re–belched, reversed well heedless, then WHEEP! the berk felled the defenceless tree. See Credere Rem Velles, Nec Rem Bene Credere Velles (New–Jerseyer Lehrheft Des Sehr Selten Erlebten). 71 fenderless Edsel. Edsel, bzw. Etzel: verwester Feldherr; bemerkter Esel des Verkehrs, Fehler des Werbewesens. hell–bent Mercedes Greenberg; self–centred Bentley Bentley 80 Penney’s: where the lesser spenders went: they spent fewer cents. 80a +Helen Vendler sent sentences, peer–refereed; Her pensées were jewels, the deemsters decreed.+ (Yes, well these presents were never presented.) 83 Everest der hehrste Berg der Welt; Fensterhersteller 92 Elder Dempster: they sent well–keeled, well–crewed vessels wherever the breezes blew. Weren’t the well–heeled well–served — well–stewed, even. Here, Shtewerd!! 92 Bêches the Exegetes; Bêtes Bentley; Belles Ellesmere; Shells Leyden en Deventer 95a degenerem recte rem delevere decentes. 95b +Hell’s bells! Even Ellen Degeneres fled!+ verehrenswerter! 96 Ethelred “regem hebetem et segnem, segetem nec mente ferentem, mel de melle merens flet edens de felle fel heres.” 98 messed yes; skewed x bleeped y speckled z. 100 Menderes: le Mendérès erre et serpente (c’est célèbre: c’est le verbe même, exprès, des hellènes) et se déverse vers l’est de l’Égée, belle mer, près de ces mêmes hellènes. Cette mer Égéenne! — scène des événements de légende! Ces événements embêtèrent l’excellent Énée et le père d’Énée et même l’élève–éphèbe (eh ben, le bébé) né d’Énée. Entendez–le, cet Énée désespéré! — « Mère! Chère mère! Très belle et céleste déesse! Entends, entends! Sèche mes vedettes trempées! Remets les vents, défends les tempêtes! Je cherche les belles terres, les belles femmes et les Mécènes. » “Gegen entgegengesetzte Sterne strebt der edelste Held selbst vergebens.” LE CENTRE BELGE DE RECHERCHES ENTRE LES BELLES–LETTRES, DEMESNE DE SENEFFE. NEC DEBES CREDERE
Translations This appendage smells of the Homeric drug that banishes grief … and this text ‘slowly disentenebrates’ — from hell! (The one–vowel phrase is from a poem of Jean Cassou: my translation in the book 33 Sonnets … runs: ‘From hollow pools of gloom so slow to go’.) 1 ‘Leyden and Deventer’ 2 The text recently redacted. Three experts redacted it. Bentley: the 18th–century scholar. Greer, Clement Greenberg: modern pundits. 4 Egbert the Elder So I prefer to claim; in fact the brothers descended, among 3,737 deceased persons male and female, from Ethelred the Unready. Nor is there such a king as Egbert the Elder. Ethelbert of Kent is certainly a king, but seems to have had few royal descendants. 15 Everdene’s geezers: Terence quits the tent (sadly); Peter gets into a mess (again, sadly); she is well–served by the excellent Oak. Terence Stamp (Sergeant Troy), Peter Finch (Squire Boldwood), Alan Bates (Gabriel Oak). 29 Beckmesser: the fusspot who was deeply irritated by the larks’ warbling contest. From the opera Die Meistersinger. 30 the pupils preferred 32 Werther’s ‘improvement’. Young man in novel by Goethe. 33 A good six or seven peoples came forward, daringly, yet with merit, among them the Greeks and the Ndebele: such a crowd has had to be omitted. (Latin elegiac couplet.) 48 it is not decent to repeat this, nor indeed to believe it. Nettlebed near Henley. Benenden (its female pupils!) nem. = nemo, no–one. 52 Ps.–Psell. Pseudo–Psellus, a commentator who might have been Psellus, but was not. Psellus: an eminent Byzantine. 53 Bells Yew Green, in East Sussex: near the Kent boundary. The poem ‘Ethelbert’s Men’ contrasts the devout shepherds of Sheppey (‘sheep–isle’) with the pagan Ethelbert, whose queen was St Bertha. She supported St Augustine, who landed at Ebbsfleet. Pegwell Bay, famously painted by Dyce, is near the ferry–port of Ramsgate; Dover Beach is where Matthew Arnold noted ‘the melancholy, long, withdrawing roar’ of faith. 59 ‘The harder the text, so much the more worthy of respect.’ The scholars’ principle, when manuscripts disagree: difficilior lectio potior, the more difficult reading should prevail: inferring from the confusion that the original, correct, text must have been something peculiar. This idea has led to some very peculiar conjectures. 61 The famous Trent splits the middle of England (stupidly spelt) and neatly separates the bishoprics. Certainly, this slowed–down Trent of Mr Everdene‘s seems to be, in contrast, the very narrow Trent of the West Country [‘the Piddle’], whose name the local people are forever plaguing and perverting! 67 ‘Ripley’s Believe It Or Not’ tells of the world’s loneliest tree, knocked down by a French truck–driver. Déclencher, to release, let go; débrayer, to de–clutch. ‘You might wish to believe the matter, and you might not’ (Latin hexameter). New Jersey Primer of the Very Rarely Experienced. 71 Edsel variously Etzel: long–dead warlord (Attila); notorious ass of the traffic, marketing blunder. An unsuccessful Ford car named after Henry Ford’s son Edsel. 83 Everest the world’s most exalted mountain; window manufacturer. 95a Something degenerate which decent folk have rightly deleted. (Latin hexameter.) 95b more deserving of honour. 96 Ethelred “A king dull and sluggish, no brain-bran at all, whose heir in despair deserves sugar’s sugars, devours gall of gall.” (Two Latin hexameters.) 100 The Menderes wanders and snakes (it’s famous: it’s the very word of the Greeks, explicitly, the Meander) and pours out on the east of the Aegean, lovely sea, close to those same Greeks. That Aegean Sea! — scene of legendary events! Those events annoyed the excellent Aeneas and the father of Aeneas and even the teenage schoolboy, OK the little son of Aeneas. Hark at him, the despairing Aeneas! — “Mother! dear mother! Most beautiful, heavenly goddess! Hear, o hear! Dry out my waterlogged pinnaces! Put away the winds, prohibit the tempests! I’m searching for lovely lands, lovely women and wealthy patrons!”
“Against contrary stars even the noblest hero strives in vain.” ‘Mit der Dummheit kämpfen Götter selbst vergebens’: Against stupidity even gods fight in vain. (Schiller: From ‘Joan of Arc’.)
THE BELGIAN CENTRE FOR RESEARCH AMONG BELLES–LETTRES, MANOR OF SENEFFE. (In reality: The European Centre for Literary Translation, at Seneffe, Belgium)
AND YOU NEEDN’T BELIEVE IT

Translation: Copyright © Timothy Adès

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