mark o'connor - australian poet

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William Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida: A Modern English Translation

Imagine that you are playing Shakespeare's Thersites, and another character has just invited you to "Come in and vituperate" (Act 2, scene 3 of Troilus and Cressida). Which of these two speeches would you rather deliver? ...

You! if I had space in my mind's purse for a fake gold coin, you'd never have slipped my memory. No matter. I’ll tack on a curse for you: Yourself upon yourself!. . . May the itch in your blood be your guiding star through life! Then if the old woman who lays you out thinks you make a pretty corpse, I’ll be sure she’s only done lepers. Amen. [translation]

OR:

If I could `a rememb'red a gilt counterfeit, thou wouldst not have slipped out of my contemplation: but it is no matter; thy self upon thy self! . . .Let thy blood be thy direction till thy death! then if she that lays thee out says thou art a fair corse, I'll be sworn and sworn upon't she never shrouded any but lazars. Amen. [original]

Mark O'Connor writes:

"My aim is translation, not adaptation. I translate prose with prose, blank verse with blank verse, a couplet with a couplet (though not necessarily the same rhyming words), and an outdated pun or joke with a comparable modern one. The aim is to keep open the ambiguities and multiple possibilities of the original text, while removing the accidental obscurities caused by linguistic change."