Here I am again with another experiment of mine.
This time it is "The Harper's Song" of pHarris 500.
It's late Egyptian, although not too different from
In my previous experiments I dealt with narrative
texts. I thought it was time to face "lyrical poetry"
and I chose this song because I find it very beautiful
and moving. It has already been pointed out how
near it is to the Hebrew Qohelet, a text I am very
I think the best translation is that of Donald Mackenzie.
It is not literal, but very elegant and I think he gets
its basic atmosphere.
LAY OF THE HARPER
'Tis well with this good prince; his day is done,
His happy fate fulfilled. . . . So one goes forth
While others, as in days of old, remain.
The old kings slumber in their pyramids,
Likewise the noble and the learned, but some
Who builded tombs have now no place of rest,
Although their deeds were great. . . .
Lo! I have heard The words Imhotep and Hordadaf spake--
Their maxims men repeat. . . . Where are their tombs?--
Long fallen . . . e'en their places are unknown,
And they are now as though they ne'er had been.
No soul comes back to tell us how he fares--
To soothe and comfort us ere we depart
Whither he went betimes. . . . But let our minds
Forget of this and dwell on better things. . . .
Revel in pleasure while your life endures
And deck your head with myrrh. Be richly clad
In white and perfumed linen; like the gods
Anointed be; and never weary grow
In eager quest of what your heart desires--
Do as it prompts you . . . until that sad day
Of lamentation comes, when hearts at rest
Hear not the cry of mourners at the tomb,
Which have no meaning to the silent dead.
Then celebrate this festal time, nor pause--
For no man takes his riches to the grave;
Yea, none returns again when he goes hence.
In my translation I tried to point out some of its ternary rhythm
(that's my fixed idea) and my interpretation of some passages
may be questionable. I am not much of a grammarian and
I don't feel at ease when I have to choose just one solution, whereas the
original text hints at a constellation of meanings.
At any rate, as in my former experiments, I decided to release
my audio-video version no matter what. If it may be of any use - good;
otherwise - sorry for the inconvenience.
Here is The Harper's Song