Корделия (“Cordelia, you are a fool! Would it have been…”) by Marina Boroditskaya

Cordelia, you are a fool! Would it have been
that hard to yield to the old man?
To say to him, ‘I, too, O darling Daddy,
love you more than my life.’ Piece of cake!
You wanted him to work it out on his own –
who was the best of his daughters. Proud fool!
And now he’s dead, you too, everyone’s dead.
And Gloucester! Oh the bloody horror –
his eye-sockets – the scene of the blinding –
fingers leafing quickly through the pages
as if through plates of red-hot iron… Here,
read it now. I’ll turn away. You weren’t there
in that Act, were you? Go on, read it,
look what you’ve done, you stupid little fool!
OK, OK, don’t cry. Of course, the author
is quite a character, but next time
make sure to be more stubborn, and resist:
Viola, Rosalinda, Catherine,
they managed – why wouldn’t you? Like a puppy,
pull him by the leg of his pants with your teeth
into the game, into comedy! The laws
of the genre will lead us out into light… Here,
wipe your nose and give me back the hanky.
I still have to wash and iron and return it
to a certain careless blonde Venetian
in the next volume. Sorry I told you off.
Best regards to your father. Remember: like a puppy!

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by Мари́на Я́ковлевна Бороди́цкая
(Marina Yakovlevna Boroditskaya)
(c. 2003)
translated by Ruth Fainlight
Published in the Journal of Foreign Literature, Number 8, 2014

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Below is the original Russian version of the poem in Cyrillic.

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Корделия

Корделия, ты дура! Неужели
Так трудно было старику поддаться?
Сказать ему: “Я тоже, милый папа,
Люблю вас больше жизни”. Всех-то дел!
Хотела, чтобы сам он догадался,
Кто лучшая из дочерей? Гордячка!
Теперь он мертв, ты тоже, все мертвы.
А Глостер? О, кровавый ужас детства —
Его глазницы — сцена ослепленья —
Как будто раскаленное железо
Пролистывали пальцы, торопясь:
На вот, прочти. Я отвернусь. Тебя же
В том акте не было? Читай, читай,
Смотри, что ты наделала, дуреха!
Ну ладно, не реви. Конечно, автор —
Тот фрукт еще, но в следующий раз
Ты своевольничай, сопротивляйся:
Виола, Розалинда, Катарина
Смогли, а ты чем хуже? Как щенок,
Тяни его зубами за штанину —
В игру, в комедию! Законы жанра
Нас выведут на свет. На, вытри нос.
Давай сюда платок. Его должна я
Перестирать, прогладить и вернуть
Одной венецианской растеряхе
В соседний том. Прости, что накричала.
Отцу привет. И помни: как щенок!

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Extra information: Marina Boroditskaya was born on June 28, 1954 in Moscow. In 1976 she graduated from the Moscow Institute of Foreign Languages ​​named after Maurice Torez. She worked as a guide-translator and taught in a school. In 1978 she made her debut as a translator in Russia’s Иностранная литература (Foreign Literature) magazine.

Since 1990 she has been a member of the Writers’ Union, and since 2005 she has become a member of the Мастера литературного перевода (Masters of Literary Translation) guild.

Marina Boroditskaya works as a presenter on the radio show Литературная аптека (translated as Literary Pharmacy’, ‘Literary First Aid Box’or ‘Literary Drugstore’ depending on your source) on Радио России (Radio Russia). She is convinced that the book is the best medicine.

Hywel and Blodwen by Idris Davies

Where are you going to, Hywel and Blodwen,

With your eyes as sad as your shoes?

We are going to learn a nimble language

By the waters of the Ouse.

 

We are trampling through Gloucester and through Leicester,

We hope we shall not drop,

And we talk as we go of the Merthyr streets

And a house at Dowlais Top.

 

We have triads and englyns from pagan Dyfed

To brace us in the fight,

And three or four hundred Methodist hymns

To sing on a starless night.

 

We shall grumble and laugh and trudge together

Till we reach the stark North Sea

And talk till we die of Pantycelyn

And the eighteenth century.

 

We shall try to forget the Sunday squabbles,

And the foreign magistrate,

And the stupid head of the preacher’s wife,

And the broken iron gate.

 

So here we say farewell and wish you

Less trouble and less pain,

And we trust you to breed a happier people

Ere our blood flows back again.

 

by Idris Davies


There was a Welsh language opera based on the same Welsh story as this poem. Blodwen is an opera in three acts composed in 1878 by Dr Joseph Parry to a Welsh libretto by Richard Davies. It was the first opera written in the Welsh language. I just mention it as I doubt many people know of it.