Margarethe: To Men


Translated by Timothy Adès


Timothy Ades: Jack mit Jill

Timothy Ades

Translated by Timothy Adès


Guillaume Cingal: Lenten Light

Guillaume Cingal

Translated by Timothy Adès


Horace, The Odes, translated by Colin Sydenham

REVIEW IN PROSE in Modern Poetry in Translation, 3/5, 2006
Horace, The Odes, translated by Colin Sydenham. New verse translation with facing Latin text and notes. G. Duckworth & Co, London, 2005. ISBN 0 7516 3431. 287pp, unpriced.
‘Horace has been translated more often into more languages than any other author, [outside]…the Bible,’ says the foreword to this book. ‘Generations of schoolboys’ can be added to the tally.
Horace’s personality is better-known than most of his writings. Colin Sydenham has come to share that personality: convivial, reflective, humorous. The Horatian Society, his brainchild, dines annually in force. His book is a work of deep and lifelong love. He was fortunate to study under D.P. Simpson and others at Eton, and L.P. Wilkinson at King’s, Cambridge. (Rex Henricus, sis amicus /nobis in angustia, /cujus prece nos a nece /salvemur perpetua.) He says he is neither scholar nor poet. Housman said at Trinity: ‘Gentlemen! This college has seen Wordsworth drunk and Porson sober. I stand before you, a better scholar than Wordsworth, a better poet than Porson.’ Sydenham could say the same. His scholarship is impeccable, never too heavy. In his text there is fine poetry and exceptional craftsmanship. Here is Europa: ‘One moment she was in the fields, intent /on plaiting for the Nymphs a promised wreath, /next all she dimly saw was stars above /and waves beneath’. Almost all his Odes rhyme, in moderation, and all scan, thus matching but not mimicking Horace’s discipline. His rhymes are, as he puts it, genuine. His line-lengths reflect those of Horace, in their great variety. Nearly all his text is iambic, or trochaic; dactylic lines come in just where they are well-suited. A translator into verse may as well use familiar English metres: the task is already difficult enough.
Sydenham’s book is ‘principally designed for the inexpert’ reader. His object is ‘to produce a version which can be read with pleasure.’ He has succeeded. Likewise his exemplary Notes are not for the few real experts. Others, though, will cherish this book, especially if they have some Latin. And for newcomers to Horace, here is the way in.
Horace’s great feat was to adapt Greek lyric metres to the more ponderous Latin tongue, writing beautiful poetry. Sydenham argues that a translation into free verse would not convey what is fundamental to Horace’s lyrics, his metrical discipline. We would not discard, say, Ted Hughes’ free verse Ovid or E.V. Rieu’s prose Homer on such grounds. Ovid and Homer were equally unprecedented technical masters, and also have great sweeping narratives. But Sydenham uses rhyme and metre extremely well.
As we know from the rules of copyright, any poem, however short, is a complete work. It follows that the philosophy of the Odes need not be consistent. The speed of Horace’s thought, the many confusions and allusions, are unobtrusively clarified in the text or notes. Sydenham tells how the moralising first stanza of Integer vitae has even been sung at funerals, even though Horace soon subverts the high tone. The good man needs no darts and poisoned arrows: he has heaven’s protection, worldwide: he can go about unarmed and carefree. A wolf fled from Horace – Lalage was there. Extremes of climate can be ignored – with Lalage. She will shield him, says Sydenham, adding the word to make it clear. To what has sometimes appeared incomprehensible, he brings insight and vigour. I see Horace as not mocking, but upholding, virtue; he is also good company for the reader. He smiles about dropping his shield at Philippi, but only because he fought on the wrong side. He and Lalage were free agents: he was integer vitae scelerisque purus.
Sydenham matches diction to context. Here, the stately: ‘Of lovely mother daughter lovelier still…’ Elsewhere, ‘the verbal avuncular cosh’. A pleasing passage is quam… / verris obliquum meditantis ictum /sanguine donem: ‘I’ll gladly sacrifice /… a young boar, practising /his sidelong slice.’
All the Odes come into focus. Book Three travels from the six severe alcaic odes, the extreme honour of long-dead Regulus, to the the merriment of the wine-jar. Book Four, which looks so obsequious, now reveals its merits. Housman’s favourite is recognised, corruptible Lollius is immortalised, Caesar idolised:
    ‘longas o utinam, dux bone, ferias
    praestes Hesperiae!’ dicimus integro
    sicci mane die, dicimus uvidi,
        ut sol Oceano subest.
    ‘Long be the carefree time that Caesar grants
    to Italy.’ This prayer is on our lips
    (dry in the morning, moistened later, as
        the sun in Ocean dips).
Late love strikes hard; I’m no Pindar; Lyce looks old. Drusus wins battles. Virgil, a jar! ‘Now’s the time to season /prudence with folly; it’s a joy to take /a holiday from reason.’ dulce est desipere in loco.
This volume is a delight, beautifully written and presented. For light relief, the multiple versions of Franklin P. Adams can be found on the Web.


The Man Who Was John Bull by Bill Newton Dunn (Allendale Publishing)

Here’s an ex-Highgate-resident’s well-researched book
On the Regency journalist, Theodore Hook.
He was songster and punster, ‘fast master’ of rhyme,
And the funniest prankster alive, in his time.
John Bull was his organ of satire and wit,
Though he scarcely admitted to editing it.
Snow was falling on Highgate: they all had to wait
When their Sage, their Panjandrum, their Coleridge came late,
From the Grove, down West Hill, to the comedy shrine,
Millfield Lane’s Ivy Cottage, to dazzle and dine:
Yes, to prattle and tipple, to guzzle and shine.
The host was Charles Mathews, celebrity mimic,
Big draw at the Garrick. Hook borrowed his gimmick:-
‘So inveterate (said he) was the wild element
(Hook was aping the Sage) in its fleecy descent,
Dr Gillman and I…’ They all laughed; then the bell
Craved silence for Coleridge (and Gillman as well).
So inveterate (said he) was the wild element …’
How they roared! It was perfect, one hundred per cent.
The King (George the Fourth) said ‘John Bull did more good
Than all of my Judges and Ministers could.’
For with barbed, biting comments and barely a bad jest he
Snagged and harpooned and lambasted Her Majesty.
Coleridge and Byron, and Sheridan too,
Reckoned Hook was a genius: so, reader, might you.
Hook unjustly succumbed, came unstuck: full of fun, but too
    trustful, a touch unsuspicious,
When his unscrupulous underlings plundered huge sums
    from the Treasury Funds in his care, on Mauritius.
P.S. Wait! This is wrong: it was Mathews, not Hook,
Who ‘pre-quoted’ the Sage, if you re-read the book.
And James Smith wasn’t there (wrote smash hits: only one’ll
Be mentioned in BUZZ, on the failed Highgate Tunnel),
When in Highgate, upstairs in a gardener’s cottage,
Old Coleridge waxed roseate in full anecdotage:
Hair floating, eyes bright, he recited and chattered,
Chucked forks at a glass, which he finally shattered…
Hook extemporised songs as if quality mattered
On Coconut Oil and on Mrs MacPherson,
The gardener’s wife, a respectable person.
Her husband and she practised husbandry (tillage),
Like crowds of BUZZ readers who live in the village.
Published in the Highgate Society Buzz, T. Ades, Ed.


'1948, A Novel in Verse' by Andy Croft (Five Leaves, 2012)

A Review published in Long Poem Magazine:
A book called 1948,
made of some eighty Pushkin stanzas,
by Martin Rowson illustrate,
riots of rhyme, extravaganzas.
The cover’s ruddy bloody garish
and Rowson’s drawings quite nightmarish,
obsessive as the text, but still, full
of telling detail, very skilful.
London Olympics, shocks galore:
spies and political skulduggery,
trade unions, left-wing mags and thuggery
and Orwell’s 1984.
‘A, b, a, b, cc, dd,’
it rhymes; ‘e, f, f, e, gg.’
Alberti, Attlee, Blandish, Blunden,
Brecht, Bulldog Drummond, Helen Gahagan,
Greene, Harlow, Marlowe, Lorre, London,
Sartre, Frank Waxman, Ronald Reagan,
Thirkell, not Churchill, Harry Truman,
all rhymed! – it’s almost superhuman.
I’m bound to ask: what rhymes with Pushkin?
Stravinsky’s violinist Dushkin.
(No triple rhymes, no terza rima:
I could have added Ariane
Mnouchkine, but that must be foregone:
no flagpole on this Iwo Jima.)
Pro-Russian Proms ‘have picked The Nose
to bring the season to a close.’
So here’s my chance to rhyme Onegin,
since these are called ‘Onegin sonnets’,
with Fagin, or Menachem Begin –
a donnish jest – quiet flows the Donets! –
He won’t be pleased, so please don’t tell ‘im:
he’s miles less mild than Bassa Selim,
the liberal enlightened Turk
in Mozart’s oriental work.
Anyway, as I said before, well-
constructed pacey period thriller –
Winston and Spiller thwart the killer! –
all based on Eric Blair (George Orwell).
Drain down that draught! Hurl hats aloft!
Hail, handicraft of Andy Croft!


M Sweeney by Timothy Ades

Timothy Ades

These jests never preceded ‘The Excellent Wessex Event’: they weren’t needed.
Per: Messer
French Verse:
. . . Sweeney entre les merles
(See Mr T.S.E.’s “The Seven Septets.”)
. . . Sweeney entre les merles,
les merles et merlettes,
merlettes et merlesses,
perles, merles femelles. . .
et Sweeney, pêle-mêle,
se révèle près d’elles!
Gegen entgegengesetzte Sterne
strebt der edelste Held
selbst vergebens.
Entered Here . . .


The Excellent Wessex Event by Timothy Adès

Timothy Ades

Based on the 1967 Film ‘Far from the Madding Crowd’
and a Betjeman Heroine
Winner of the Flamingofeather Long Poem Prize, 2013, published in Long Poem Magazine, 2014, with an Apparatus Criticus:
“… a breathtaking, single–vowelled tour de force: ‘She fells these three fellers, Ms B. Everdene. / Terence weds her, then flees; she tells Peter: “Wed me!” ’ ” — Greg Freeman in Write Out Loud
“Timothy Adès’ ‘The Excellent Wessex Event’ uses the Oulipo univocal lipogram omitting a, i, o and u to produce a narrative poem in rhyming couplets drawing upon the film version of Hardy’s Far From The Madding Crowd. This one hundred line sequence comes with a set of multi–language footnotes all with the same impediment.” — David Caddy blog, Tears in the Fence

Introduction to ‘The Excellent Wessex Event’

This univocalic lipogram won an, um, won a Flamingo–Quill (that’s almost right) award, six months, no, many months ago. It honours two icons of British womanhood, drawing on Thomas Hardy’s book Far From A Madding Crowd, or strictly on a film of that book which was famous in my youth, and on a suburban mini–saga of sport and courtship by an illustrious Old Marlburian, which harks back to my boyhood, south of London. What is a lipogram? It’s a form of writing popular with a Gallic group known as Oulipo, that is to say ‘Writing Possibility Workshop’, although ‘lipo–’ may go back to Plato’s old word for ‘omit’ … not, I might add, to his similar word for ‘fat’. A lipogram is all about having a constraint, such as omitting a basic unit (or two) from a particular composition. If you look at this paragraph, you won’t find any omission of A, I, O or U.
An accompanying apparatus criticus informs of variants found in manuscripts, or thought up by scholars, and will cast light on any occasional obscurity. I did classics as a schoolboy, and sat through any amount of this kind of thing. If at any point you can’t follow my non–local lingo, why not look for a translation on my www.
(apparatus-criticus-excellent-wessex-event.pdf [46 KB])
We exempt the respected Ned Wessex, the peer:
He needn’t feel he’d be the reference here.
Well, he weren’t yet preferred, when these verses were penned!
Ex Egbert the Elder, three brethren descend.


Deep–zested, tweed–chested, the Western sweet–teen!
Her best speed exceeded the fleet leveret;
Her feet were the slenderest, tenderest yet.
Wessex! Wells, Mells, the Cheverells, the Kennet, the Test;
There’s Tess Debrett–Deference, there’s Jed the Repressed; (10)
The beech–trees’ green excellence shelters the sheep;
Beetles nestle, well–fed; replete trenchermen sleep.
Let the fevered seethe elsewhere. Remember the scene?
She fells these three fellers, Ms B. Everdene.
Terence weds her, then flees; she tells Peter: ‘Wed me!’ (15)
Peter’s pellet fells Tel; she weds Zebedee Tree.
Let the reckless recede: Wessex needn’t be pestered.
Well, her sheep swelled, blenched, sweltered; her bell–wethers festered;
Her ewes needed helpmeets, the sweet shepherdess!
Bergère légère, sévère détresse. (20)
They freed the pent breezes, they gentled her sheep,
Re–fettled the helpless, defenceless Belle–Peep.
They helped her mend fences, keep bees, sell her fleeces,
Brew beers, wrestle steers, breed red setters, press cheeses.
She entered her jennet, she swept three events: (25)
She wrecked, she sternwheelered the three–decker fence.
When she screen–tested, Elstree’s behests were exceeded:
‘Three cheers!’ Terence yelled: yet she’ll never be needed.
(When she entered the Beckmesser Best Verse Event,
‘We deem ye’re the best’ wheezed the letter they sent. (30)
‘These verses were excellent — best ever seen:
Yet we need seven fewer — ye’ve sent seventeen!’).
She revered the Berserkers, kept her épées well flexed:
She peppered the mêlée, mere nerds were de–sexed!
When she vented her spleen, the events were extreme…! (35)
She fenced well; she effected the deeds we esteem.
She led her eleven (three sevens less ten):
We felt her svelte vehemence, we keen Wessex men.
She served — the bets lengthened — she swept the next set:
‘Twelve–twelve: even stevens! They’ll strengthen the net.’ (40)
Deep red were the tresses her green eyes reflected;
Red–eyed, tremble–cheeked the wet men she’d rejected.
She jested, she bested me, 17–3!
Strength, speed, perfect deftness, Ms Everdene B.


(he’s her begetter: he engendered her.)
Mr Everdene’s seedbeds: well–weeded, well–dressed! (45)
He’s served me the genever, fresh–peeled the zest.
‘Seven bells!’ bleeps the ether. The Beeb tells the News:
Kew’s new helter–skelter. Pelé meets Henley crews.
We’ve smelt, these few weeks, Mr Everdene’s herbs:
We’ve spell–checked (he’s the expert!) Perec’s e–less French verbs. (50)
He’s helped her ‘self–reference,’ yet nevertheless
Kept secret the preference she’ll never express.
He ‘respects’ Bells Yew Green, he ‘prefers’ Peterlee,
Where the tenement–dwellers resettled, felt free.
‘Remember’, he stressed, ‘the best verses extend, (55)
Yet resemble, the precedents better men penned.’

[Theme: ’Greensleeves’]

He’s the Verderers’ Verger, he re–elmed The Glebe,
Re–nested the egret, re–crested the grebe.
He re–elvered the Exe, when her nether emergence
Went eel–less. ‘We need fresher, greener detergents!’ (60)
The week when dense kex–weed enfeebled the Trent,
(Even newts were perplexed!) he’s the geezer they sent.
He metered the elements, tested the presence,
Tended reed–beds, dredged trenches, expelled the excrescence.
He let eels beget elvers: they revelled, went legless! (65)
Wrens, tree–creepers, greylegs, he never left eggless.
He preserved the West Erg, where the Ténéré tree
Met her Meddler. Meseemed he’d preserve even Me.

THE PLEDGE [Sennet.]

The Evercreech Levée! Green–belted her dress;
Sheer–selvedged, her neckleted red–freckledness. (70)
We went there; the fenderless Edsel relented;
She seemed pre–selected, her cheeks smelled sweet–scented.
Well–heeled Wessex vespers! The well–tempered keys!
The nerveless resplendence! The strength next the knees!
We’ll let Messrs Sleepeezee pre–test the bed, (75)
The pelmet, the tester, the sheets, WHEN WE WED!
The deckle–edged letters, the speech, the set jest,
The new, well–hedged nest–egg (she’s pledged me the nest!);
The leek–green Welsh dresser, the cleverest shelves
Where the bent Penney’s rejects re–centre themselves. (80)
The SwebCentre’s deep–freezer–chest sets the scene;
Crested Berkertex bed–sheets, we’ll sleep strewn between.
There’ll be Everest fenêtres: the bevel’s recessed:
Le vent ne pénètre, when the lever’s depressed.

HERE’S THE STEEPLE [Enter the celeste, etc. Sweet glees]

Yestereven the Western defenders were here: (85)
St Keverne, St Erney, St Clether, St Cleer.
We feel we’ve repented whenever we’ve erred;
They’ll bless the deep bed, get the sentence deferred.
Presents! Here’s The Red Desert, Steele, Sterne, Stephen Spender,
Ted Dexter, Pete Seeger, The Creep, The Pretender. (90)
Let’s get the blend perfect! The Reverend, the bells! …
Elder Dempster! Three Weeks! Bêches de Mer! The Seychelles!


She SPEWED crème de menthe, MESSED her velveteen breeches,
She DRENCHED her three nephews, prevented the speeches.
Ms JEZEBEL Everdene’s never been wed: [95] She’s rendered me REDELESS — the new ETHELRED!
Yes, she wended, went west, she bereft me, defected,
She schlepped, de–selected, she left me dejected,
Yes, she expleted, reverted, depleted, DESERTED THE BED!
She dwells where the Menderes enters the Med. THE END. (100)
(We’ve deepened the legend! Skewered cheerlessness! — Ed.)

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.


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.”


Translations for the Apparatus Criticus to ‘The Excellent Wessex Event’
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 blokes: 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.”
Schiller: ‘Mit der Dummheit kämpfen Götter selbst vergebens’:
Against stupidity even gods fight in vain. (From Joan of Arc.)
(In reality: The European Centre for Literary Translation, at Seneffe, Belgium)


Lipograms from Stratford–on–Avon by Timothy Adès

Timothy Ades

by a glorious Bard

Let’s see whether he needed the letter e

XVIII Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:

Comparing you with a day possibly in July or August

I’ll put you up against a balmy day…
You win on looks. Not cold, and not too warm.
Winds cut up rough with darling buds of May;
A two–month contract can’t supply much balm.
Dog–days in August turn to burning hot,
Or may contrarily grow all too dim;
And all fair fowls fall foul of you–know–what,
Thrown by bad luck, or sunspots, out of trim.
But your hot days will last and last and last,
Maintaining tiptop form with full control;
Nor shall morticians brag of shadows cast
Across your path. My words shall grow your soul.
Humans may gasp and gawp, unstoppably:
I sign this gift, your immortality.

This was published in Acumen.

XXX When to the sessions of sweet silent thought
I summon up remembrance of things past,

Writing Off Past Pains

Now and again I sit in soundproof thought
And summon up (Proust’s parrot–cry) things past:
I sigh for lack of many things I sought:
Updating pains, I mourn for hours I lost.
I flood my thirsty ducts, that drown forlorn,
For staunch amigos hid in mortal night,
And cry for sorrows long ago outworn,
And moan my loss of many a long–lost sight.
I’m sad at what was sad, though now it’s not,
Start listing pains untold and pains unsaid,
Accounting still for many a sold–off lot,
And pay again, as if I hadn’t paid.
But oh, mio caro, if I think of you,
All loss is null and void, all sorrow too.
I From fairest creatures we desire increase,
That thereby beauty’s rose might never die,

With Your Good Looks, What About a Child?

Good–looking folk and animals should pup,
Immortalising rosy–blooming glory.
Maturing, I’ll pass on, I’ll go paunch–up,
And my young sprog will carry on my story;
But you contract your troth with inward look,
Nourish your glow with autophagic food,
Drying to scarcity your bounty’s brook,
Your own worst hitman, doing harm, not good.
What! You, this world’s outstanding work of art,
You, proclamation of a coming Spring,
Bury in your own bud your major part,
Wasting good stuff, soft churl, by niggarding!
For our world’s good, nor tomb nor gluttony
Should scoff this birthright of humanity.
CXXX My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips’ red:

(1) A Gallant Comparison

My lady’s orbs can’t match two Suns at noon;
Coral, too ruddy, trumps my lady’s lip;
Snow shows my lady’s bosom slushy–brown;
Black wiry hairs top out my ladyship;
Carnations, snow or crimson, don’t abound
Around my lady’s physiognomy;
As for aromas, it was always found,
My lady’s just unsatisfactory;
Though to my lady’s larynx I’m in thrall,
It falls a long way short of musical;
Gods of Olympus probably walk tall;
My lady’s gait’s not astro–magical.
Don’t worry, though: my girl can still surpass
Any too crassly sold and broadcast lass.

(2) Perfect? Er — She’s Even Better

Her eyes resemble less the fervent sphere;
Her teeth: red–fretted? Redder the jewelled reef;
Steel nets, her tresses; stressed, her temples. Sere
December freezes: where’s the resplendent beef?
We’ve seen red setters, seen the egret’s vest,
Yet egret–sheen ne’er blenched her redless cheeks;
We scented Estée’s scent, then we regressed:
We smelled her scent, reeled senseless! Yes, she reeks!
Her speech refreshes me; nevertheless
Glees, even sennets, fetch me even better;
We’ve never seen the fleet feet *des déesses:
Well, when she steps, the pebbled weeds beset her.
Yet, yet, meseems, †mehercle! she’s the best:
The rest get bent creds: she exceeds the rest.

*French: des êtres célestes.
†See Terence, when rednecks express themselves.


Loredana Lipogram [Romanian]

Deniz Otay (1993)

Translated by Timothy Adès