Sir Richard Burton
In the two excerpts below there are two English translations of the same passage from the 1001 Nights. What do you find the greatest strength and weakness of each translation style? Do you think these translations should have fit the dialect of the day or should be able to transcend changes in language use over time? Finally, for the brief paragraph provided [in red] in the assignment, rephrase this in your own words, using contemporary language and slang.
John Payne (1882) from The Porter and the Three Ladies
“Then she took the cup and drank it off to her sisters' health; and they continued to drink and make merry, dancing and laughing and singing and reciting verses and ballads. The porter fell to toying and kissing and biting and handling and groping and dallying and taking liberties with them: whilst one put a morsel into his mouth and another thumped him, and this one gave him a cuff and that pelted him with flowers; and he led the most delightful life with them, as if he sat in paradise among the houris. They ceased not to drink and carouse thus, till the wine sported in their heads and got the better of their senses, when the portress, arose, and putting off her clothes, let down her hair over her naked body, for a veil. Then she threw herself into the basin and sported in the water and swam about and dived like a duck and took water in her mouth and spurted it at the porter and washed her limbs and the inside of her thighs. Then she came up out of the water and throwing herself into the porter's lap, pointed to her commodity and said to him, 'O my lord O my friend, what is the name of this?' 'Thy kaze,' answered he; but she said, 'Fie! art thou not ashamed!' And cuffed him on the nape of the neck. Quoth he, 'Thy catso.' And she dealt him a second cuff, saying, 'Fie! what an ugly word! Art thou not ashamed?' 'Thy commodity,' said he; and she, 'Fie! is there no shame in thee?' And thumped him and beat him. Then said he, 'Thy coney.' Whereupon the eldest fell on him and beat him, saying, 'Thou shalt not say that.' And whatever he said, they beat him more and more, till his neck ached again; and they made a laughing-stock of him amongst them, till he said at last, 'Well, what is its name amongst you women?' 'The sweet basil of the dykes,' answered they. 'Praised be God for safety!' cried he. 'Good, O sweet basil of the dikes!' Then they passed round the cup and presently the cateress rose and throwing herself into the porter's lap, pointed to her kaze and said to him, 'O light of mine eyes, what is the name of this?' 'Thy commodity,' answered he. 'Art thou not ashamed?' said she, and dealt him a buffet that made the place ring again, repeating, 'Fie! Fie! art thou not ashamed?' Quoth he, 'The sweet basil of the dykes.' 'No! No!' answered she, and beat him and cuffed him on the nape. Then said he, 'Thy kaze, thy tout, thy catso, thy coney.' But they replied, 'No! No!' And he said again, 'The sweet basil of the dykes.' Whereupon they laughed till they fell backward and cuffed him on the neck, saying, 'No; that is not its name.' At last he said, 'O my sisters, what is its name?' And they answered, 'What sayest thou to the peeled barleycorn?' Then the cateress put on her clothes and they sat down again to carouse, whilst the porter lamented over his neck and shoulders. The cup passed round among them awhile, and presently the eldest and handsomest of the ladies rose and put off her clothes; whereupon the porter took his neck in his hand and said, 'My neck and shoulders are in the way of God!' Then she threw herself into the basin and plunged and sported and washed; whilst the porter looked at her, naked, as she were a piece of the moon or the full moon when she waxes or the dawn at its brightest, and noted her shape and breasts and her heavy quivering buttocks, for she was naked as God created her. And he said, 'Alack!' Alack!' and repeated the following verses:
If to the newly-budded branch thy figure I compare, I lay upon my heart a load of wrong too great to bear;
For that the branch most lovely is, when clad upon with green, But thou, when free of every veil, art then by far most fair.
When she heard this, she came up out of the water and sitting down on his knees, pointed to her kaze and said, 'O my little lord, what is the name of this?' 'The sweet basil of the dykes,' answered he; but she said, 'No! No!' Quoth he, 'The peeled barleycorn.' And she said, 'Pshaw!' Then said he, 'Thy kaze.' Fie! Fie!' cried she. 'Art thou not ashamed?' And cuffed him on the nape of the neck. And whatever name he said, they beat him, saying, 'No! No!' till at last he said, 'O my sisters, what is its name?' 'The khan (27) of Abou Mensour,' answered they. And he said, 'Praised be God for safety! Bravo! Bravo! O khan of Abou Mensour!' Then the damsel rose and put on her clothes and they returned to their carousing and the cup passed round awhile. Presently, the porter rose and putting off his clothes, plunged into the pool and swam about and washed under his chin and armpits, even as they had done. Then he came out and threw himself into the eldest lady's lap and putting his arms into the portress's lap and his feet into that of the cateress pointed to his codpiece and said, 'O my mistresses, what is the name of this?' They laughed till they fell backward and one of them answered, 'Thy yard.' 'Art thou not ashamed?' said he. 'A forfeit!' and took of each a kiss. Quoth another, 'Thy pintle.' But he replied, 'No,' and gave each of them a bite in play. Then said they, 'Thy pizzle.' 'No,' answered he, and gave each of them a hug; and they kept saying, 'Thy yard, thy pintle, thy pizzle, thy codpiece!' whilst he kissed and hugged and fondled them to his heart's content, and they laughed till they were well nigh dead. At last they said, 'O our brother, and what is its name?' 'Don't you know?' asked he; and they said, 'No.' Quoth he, 'This is the mule Break-all, that browses on the basil of the dykes and gobbles up the peeled barleycorn and lies by night in the khan of Abou Mensour.' And they laughed till they fell backward.”
Sir Richard Burton (1885) The Porter and the Three Ladies excerpt
Then the lady took the cup, and drank it off to her sisters' health, and they ceased not drinking (the Porter being in the midst of them), and dancing and laughing and reciting verses and singing ballads and ritornellos. All this time the Porter was carrying on with them, kissing, toying, biting, handling, groping, fingering; whilst one thrust a dainty morsel in his mouth, and another slapped him; and this cuffed his cheeks, and that threw sweet flowers at him; and he was in the very paradise of pleasure, as though he were sitting in the seventh sphere among the Houris [FN#157] of Heaven. They ceased not doing after this fashion until the wine played tucks in their heads and worsted their wits; and, when the drink got the better of them, the portress stood up and doffed her clothes till she was mother naked. However, she let down her hair about her body by way of shift, and throwing herself into the basin disported herself and dived like a duck and swam up and down, and took water in her mouth, and spurted it all over the Porter, and washed her limbs, and between her breasts, and inside her thighs and all around her navel. Then she came up out of the cistern and throwing herself on the Porter's lap said, "O my lord, O my love, what callest thou this article?" pointing to her slit, her solution of continuity. "I call that thy cleft," quoth the Porter, and she rejoined, Wah! wah, art thou not ashamed to use such a word?" and she caught him by the collar and soundly cuffed him. aid he again, Thy womb, thy vulva;" and she struck him a second slap crying, "O fie, O fie, this is another ugly word; is here no shame in thee?" Quoth he, "Thy coynte;" and she cried, O thou! art wholly destitute of modesty?" and thumped and bashed him. Then cried the Porter, "Thy clitoris," [FN#158] whereat the eldest lady came down upon him with a yet sorer beading, and said, "No;" and he said, " 'Tis so," and the Porter vent on calling the same commodity by sundry other names, but whatever he said they beat him more and more till his neck ached and swelled with the blows he had gotten; and on this wise they made him a butt and a laughing stock. At last he turned upon them asking, And what do you women call this article?" Whereto the damsel made answer, "The basil of the bridges." [FN#159] Cried the Porter, "Thank Allah for my safety: aid me and be thou propitious, O basil of the bridges!" They passed round the cup and tossed off the bowl again, when the second lady stood up; and, stripping off all her clothes, cast herself into the cistern and did as the first had done; then she came out of the water and throwing her naked form on the Porter's lap pointed to her machine and said, "O light of mine eyes, do tell me what is the name of this concern?" He replied as before, "Thy slit;" and she rejoined, "Hath such term no shame for thee?" and cuffed him and buffeted him till the saloon rang with the blows. Then quoth she, "O fie! O fie! how canst thou say this without blushing?" He suggested, "The basil of the bridges;" but she would not have it and she said, "No! no!" and stuck him and slapped him on the back of the neck. Then he began calling out all the names he knew, "Thy slit, thy womb, thy coynte, thy clitoris;" and the girls kept on saying, "No! no!" So he said, "I stick to the basil of the bridges;" and all the three laughed till they fell on their backs and laid slaps on his neck and said, "No! no! that's not its proper name." Thereupon he cried, "O my sisters, what is its name?" and they replied, "What sayest thou to the husked sesame seed?" Then the cateress donned her clothes and they fell again to carousing, but the Porter kept moaning, "Oh! and Oh!" for his neck and shoulders, and the cup passed merrily round and round again for a full hour. After that time the eldest and handsomest lady stood up and stripped off her garments, whereupon the Porter took his neck in hand, and rubbed and shampoo'd it, saying, "My neck and shoulders are on the way of Allah!" [FN#160] Then she threw herself into the basin, and swam and dived, sported and washed; and the Porter looked at her naked figure as though she had been a slice of the moon [FN#161] and at her face with the sheen of Luna when at full, or like the dawn when it brighteneth, and he noted her noble stature and shape, and those glorious forms that quivered as she went; for she was naked as the Lord made her. Then he cried "Alack! Alack!"and began to address her, versifying in these couplets:--
"If I liken thy shape to the bough when green * My likeness errs and I sore mistake it;
For the bough is fairest when clad the most * And thou art fairest when mother naked."
When the lady heard his verses she came up out of the basin and, seating herself upon his lap and knees, pointed to her genitory and said, "O my lordling, what be the name of this?" Quoth he, "The basil of the bridges;" but she said, "Bah, bah!" Quoth he, "The husked sesame;" quoth she, "Pooh, pooh!" Then said he, "Thy womb;" and she cried, "Fie, Fie! art thou not ashamed of thyself?" and cuffed him on the nape of the neck. And whatever name he gave declaring " 'Tis so," she beat him and cried "No! no!" till at last he said, "O my sisters, and what is its name?" She replied, "It is entitled the Khan [FN#162] of Abu Mansur;" whereupon the Porter replied, "Ha! ha! O Allah be praised for safe deliverance! O Khan of Abu Mansur!" Then she came forth and dressed and the cup went round a full hour. At last the Porter rose up, and stripping off all his clothes, jumped into the tank and swam about and washed under his bearded chin and armpits, even as they had done. Then he came out and threw himself into the first lady's lap and rested his arms upon the lap of the portress, and reposed his legs in the lap of the cateress and pointed to his prickle and said, "O my mistresses, what is the name of this article?" All laughed at his words till they fell on their backs, and one said, "Thy pintle!" But he replied, "No!" and gave each one of them a bite by way of forfeit. Then said they, "Thy pizzle!" but he cried "No," and gave each of them a hug; And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Tenth Night,
Quoth her sister Dunyazad, "Finish for us thy story;" and she answered, "With joy and goodly greet" It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the damsels stinted not saying to the Porter "Thy prickle, thy pintle, thy pizzle," and he ceased not kissing and biting and hugging until his heart was satisfied, and they laughed on till they could no more. At last one said, "O our brother, what, then, is it called?" Quoth he, "Know ye not?" Quoth they, "No!" "Its veritable name," said he, "is mule Burst all, which browseth on the basil of the bridges, and muncheth the husked sesame, and nighteth in the Khan of Abu Mansur." Then laughed they till they fell on their backs, and returned to their carousel, and ceased not to be after this fashion till night began to fall.