On Poetry and Culture Shock


To keep up with today’s theme, here you have a bit of Shakespeare. I leave you in the very dark company of Richard III and Iago. Richard III enjoys his evil actions, and he can be witty and funny, and you like him even though you’re not supposed to. And in most cases, he’s evil because that brings him material gain. Iago is bitter and sombre and you don’t know or care why he’s evil. He’s scary as hell, among other things because making others suffer brings him no real relief. Sometimes I think that all villains in Western literature are nothing more than copies of one or the other. the translations, as usual, are mine.

Richard III, Act I scene 2, 241-251
Was ever woman in this humour woo'd?
Was ever woman in this humour won?
I'll have her; but I will not keep her long.
What! I, that kill'd her husband and his father,
To take her in her heart's extremest hate,
With curses in her mouth, tears in her eyes,
The bleeding witness of her hatred by;
Having God, her conscience, and these bars against me,
And I nothing to back my suit at all,
But the plain devil and dissembling looks,
And yet to win her, all the world to nothing! Ha! (...)

¿Quién sedujo a una mujer de esta manera?
¿Quién conquistó a una mujer de esta manera?
Será mía, pero no por mucho tiempo.
Yo, que maté a su padre y a su hermano,
la he hecho mía cuando más me odiaba,
boca injuriosa, ojos llorosos,
testigos sangrantes de su odio pasado.
Con Dios, su conciencia, y mis fallos contra mí,
y yo sin nada que me diese apoyo,
simple diablo de mirada esquiva,
¡y aún así ganarla, a doble o nada! ¡Ja!

Othello, Act I scene 3 406-423
But for my sport and profit. I hate the Moor:
And it is thought abroad, that 'twixt my sheets
He has done my office: I know not if't be true;
But I, for mere suspicion in that kind,
Will do as if for surety. He holds me well;
The better shall my purpose work on him.
Cassio's a proper man: let me see now:
To get his place and to plume up my will
In double knavery--How, how? Let's see:--
After some time, to abuse Othello's ear
That he is too familiar with his wife.
He hath a person and a smooth dispose
To be suspected, framed to make women false.
The Moor is of a free and open nature,
That thinks men honest that but seem to be so,
And will as tenderly be led by the nose
As asses are. I have't. It is engender'd. Hell and night
Must bring this monstrous birth to the world's light.

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