Mutatis mutandis

In researching a short paper on The Tempest, I came across an interesting example of translations. In act V scene 1, as Prospero the magus is about to renounce his power, he describes it in the following terms:
Ye elves of hills, brooks, standing lakes, and groves
And ye that on the sands with printless foot
Do chase the ebbing Neptune, and do fly him
When he comes back; you demi-puppets that
By moonshine do the green sour ringlets make,
Whereof the ewe not bites; and you whose pastime
Is to make midnight mushrumps, that rejoice
To hear the solemn curfew; by whose aid
(Weak masters though ye be) I have bedimmed
The noontide sun, called forth the mutinous winds,
And 'twixt the green sea and the azured vault
Set roaring war; to the dread rattling thunder
Have I given fire and rifted Jove's stout oak
With his own bolt; the strong-based promontory
Have I made shake, and by the spurs plucked up
The pine and cedar; graves had my command
Have waked their sleepers, oped, and let 'em forth
By my so potent art.
(The Tempest 5.1.33-50)

This is taken from a translation of Ovid's Metamorphoses by Arthur Golding (1567):
Ye airs and winds, ye elves of hills, of brooks, of woods alone,
Of standing lakes, and of the night, approach ye everychone!
Through help of whom, the crooked banks much wondering at the thing,
I have compelled streams to run clean back ward to their spring.
By charms I make the calm seas rough and make the rough seas plain,
And cover all the sky with clouds and chase them thence again.
By charms I raise and lay the winds, and burst the viper's jaw,
And from the bowels of the earth both stones and trees do draw,
Whole woods and forests I remove; I make the mountains shake,
And even the earth itself to groan and fearfully to quake.
I call up dead men from their graves.
(Metamorphoses, 7.265-275)

Golding was translating the following passage from Ovid:
auraeque et venti montesque amnesque lacusque,
dique omnes nemorum, dique omnes noctis adeste,
quorum ope, cum volui, ripis mirantibus amnes
in fontes rediere suos, concussaque sisto,
stantia concutio cantu freta, nubila pello
nubilaque induco, ventos abigoque vocoque,
vipereas rumpo verbis et carmine fauces,
vivaque saxa sua convulsaque robora terra
et silvas moveo iubeoque tremescere montis
et mugire solum manesque exire sepulcris!
(Metamorphoses 7.197-206)

Compare those passages with the Oxford World Classics edition:
Ye winds and airs, ye mountains, lakes and streams
And all ye forest gods and gods of night,
Be with me now! By your enabling power,
At my behest, broad rivers to their source
Flow back, their banks aghast; my magic song
Rouses the quiet, calms the angry seas;
I bring the clouds and make the clouds withdraw,
I call the winds and quell them; by my art
I sunder serpents' throats; the living rocks
And mighty oaks from out their soil I tear;
I move the forests, bid the mountains quake,
The deep earth groan and ghosts rise from their tombs.
(Metamorphoses 7.263-274)

Draw your own conclusions if you wish, but I think it just makes the point that it takes a poet to translate poetry. And even then, the Tempest is not by Ovid; it is clearly Shakespeare. A great translator re-makes the story in the image of his own language; the Tempest is not Ovid, but you can see the seed in the fruit.

(It makes the old Authorized Version of Colossians pretty cool: "Giving thanks unto the Father, . . . Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:" Maybe that's the best metaphor we have for resurrection; somehow, the old will be there but it will be completely remade.)

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