Literature in Translation

For I'm not sure what reason, Scott Eric Kaufman is blogging a close reading of Keats's "Ode on a Grecian Urn". I suspect this may be a new frontier in procrastination, but I'm not up on the latest developments in that field.

In the course of his reading, he helpfully updates one stanza into modern idiom:

What's the title of this thing anyway?

Is it about them? Them? Both?

It takes place where?

Which one of them are these? Who are they?

Where are they going and why are they in such a rush?

What is that? Guitar? Xylophone? Why so loud?

There's a lot of thought-provoking stuff about the real meaning of the poem, and whether ignorance is a crucial component of aesthetics, which is great if you're into that sort of thing. Personally, I'm hoping for more translations into the Grandpa Simpson voice.


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As for why I'm doing this, well, this may explain it. But from the perspective of most of your readers, the more interesting explanation is that America's very first neurologist, Silas Weir Mitchell, was positively infatuated with this poem. Talked about it in scientific texts, novels, even in his own poetry. There's something appealing to him about the vision of history and development--or lack of development--and I'm trying to figure out what it is. I think I've got it, but it's going to require an insanely close-reading of both the poem and its instantiations in his work to make my case.

So it's only (counting fingers) carry the one, divide by the denominator of the quadratic equation--twenty-two percent procrastination.