On Poetry and Culture Shock

Thomas Middleton

I may have been too ambitious today; I felt like translating something very difficult, passages from a play by an English playwright of Shakespeare's time. I find Middleton irregular, and without some of Shakespeare impossible-to-grasp sparkle. But his play The Changeling is fascinating, a dark story of blackmail with the right amount of comic relief. De Flores, servant to Vermandero, wants to seduce his employer's daughter, Beatrice, who is engaged to a man against her will to marry another.

I have blended two fragments of two soliloquys by De Flores, by far Middleton's best character. There's something special about these tragedy villains. The translation takes too many liberties; the language is very hard and I was aiming too high.

I, I She had rather wear my pelt tann’d in a pair
of dancing pumps, than I should thrust my fingers
into her sockets here; I know she hates me,
yet cannot choose but love her;
no matter, if but to vex her, I’ll haunt her still;
though I get nothing else, I’ll have my will.

II,I Wrangling has prov’d the mistress of good pastime;
as children cry themselves asleep, I ha’seen
Women have chid themselves abed to men.

I, I Más quisiera ella usar mi piel para forrar
sus zapatitos, que dejarme meter los dedos
en su guante; sé que me odia,
y no hay nada que hacer, la quiero.
Da igual. La perseguiré, por fastidiarla,
la tenga o no, pues ese es mi capricho.

II, I Las peleas son las criadas del mejor pasatiempo;
igual que los niños que se duermen llorando, he visto
mujeres que refunfuñan camino de la cama.

After reading such brilliant, strong, rich, merciless, rhythmic poetry, do you have any doubt that De Flores will do exactly what he wants with Beatrice?

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