Poems, by Andrew Marvell

To his worthy Friend Doctor Witty

Upon his Translation of the “Popular Errors”

[1650]

Sit further, and make room for thine own fame,

Where just desert enrolles thy honour’d Name

The good Interpreter. Some in this task

Take of the Cypress vail, but leave a mask,

Changing the Latine, but do more obscure

That sence in English which was bright and pure.

So of Translators they are Authors grown,

For ill Translators make the Book their own.

Others do strive with words and forced phrase

To add such lustre, and so many rayes,

That but to make the Vessel shining, they

Much of the precious Metal rub away.

He is Translation’s thief that addeth more,

As much as he that taketh from the Store

Of the first Author. Here he maketh blots

That mends; and added beauties are but spots.

Celia whose English doth more richly flow

Then Tagus, purer than dissolved snow,

And sweet as are her lips that speak it, she

Now learns the tongues of France and Italy;

But she is Celia still: no other grace

But her own smiles commend that lovely face;

Her native beauty’s not Italianated,

Nor her chast mind into the French translated:

Her thoughts are English, though her sparkling wit

With other Language doth them fitly fit.

Translators learn of her: but stay, I slide

Down into Error with the Vulgar tide;

Women must not teach here: the Doctor doth

Stint them to Cawdles, Almond-milk, and Broth.

Now I reform, and surely so will all

Whose happy Eyes on thy Translation fall,

I see the people hastning to thy Book,

Liking themselves the worse the more they look,

And so disliking, that they nothing see

Now worth the liking, but thy Book and thee.

And (if I Judgement have) I censure right;

For something guides my hand that I must write.

You have Translations statutes best fulfil’d.

That handling neither sully nor would guild.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/m/marvell/andrew/poems/poem36.html

Last updated Friday, March 7, 2014 at 23:09