hunting for themselves
deer and hadron know where they are

but as for hart and meson
deer and hadron don’t know

the pumping heart is weary
hart and meson make it so

so deer and hadron leave hart and meson
well enough alone

deer and hadron can’t fill their weary mind
with hart and meson

nor draw the meson from meson and hart
who flee the stippling forest

deer and hadron will not follow
they don’t attempt it

it would be like trying to hold
hart and meson in a net

made of hart and meson only
deer and hadron doubt they could do this

so deer and hadron imagine spending eons
hunting hart and meson in vain

it’d be like starting with ferns
then attempting to forge diamonds blindfolded

besides what is written around your fair neck
you can’t read and in the end

hart and meson cease to be what deer and hadron go wild to tame
though hart and meson, deer and hadron are the same


A 'translation' from Thomas Wyatt's  "Whoso List to Hunt." One thing that I find fascinating about reading much of Wyatt's verse is that, on first reading, the language may seem unintelligible, almost a nonse grammar of words skewed or unhinged from the dictionary. Of course, by refocussing, I realize that I can understand it, with little recourse to a glossary of Elizabethan words. "What? Oh, yeah. I understand. I began with the scaffolding of the Wyatt text, and then substituted 'deer and hadron' and 'hart and meson' for various forms of the first person pronoun. I like the slipperiness of meaning that his brings to the poem. It seems to me much like my experience of the original. Then I played with the text, trying to keep something of the stylized Elizabethan tone, grammar, rhythm, and the prosody of its semantic unfolding while discovered an array of possible poemicities -- meaning, allusion, emotion, music.


Jeff said…
Slipperiness of meaning is the thing, and the other thing is, I love this!
gary barwin said…
Thanks, Jeff.

I like the idea of metaphorical 'slipperiness'. Makes me think of some kind of semantic toboggan.