Robert Graves. Ogres and Pygmies. Translated by Shlomo Krol

Also in Translations:

Illustration for Le Petit Poucet, 1862 - Copyright Public Domain
Gustave Doré: Illustration for "Le Petit Poucet," written in 1697 by Charles Perrault, 1862 [fragment]. Public Domain
Robert Graves. Ogres and Pygmies. Translated by Shlomo Krol

Those famous men of old, the Ogres

They had long beards and stinking arm-pits.

They were wide-mouthed, long-yarded and great-bellied

Yet of no taller stature, Sirs, than you.

They lived on Ogre-Strand, which was no place

But the churl’s terror of their proud extent.

Where every foot was three-and-thirty inches,

And every penny bought a whole sheep.

Now of their company none survive, not one,

The times being, thank God, unfavourable

To all but nightmare shadows of them.

Their images stand howling in the waste,

(The winds enforced against their wide mouths)

whose granite haunches king and priest must yearly

Buss and their cold knobbled knees.

So many feats they did to admiration:

With their enormous lips they sang louder

Than ten cathedral choirs, and with their grand yards

Stormed the most rare and obstinate maidenheads,

With their strong-gutted and capacious bellies

Digested stones and glass like ostriches.

They dug great pits and heaped great cairns,

Deflected rivers, slew whole armies,

And hammered judgments for posterity

For the sweet cupid-lipped and tassel-yarded

Delicate-stomached dwellers

In Pygmy Alley, where with brooding on them

A foot is shrunk to seven inches

And twelve-pence will not buy a spare rib.

And who would choose between Ogres and Pygmies

The thundering text, the snivelling commentary

Reading between such covers he will likely

Prove his own disproportion and not laugh.

Орки и пигмеи

Те в древности прославленные орки,

С брадою длинной, смрадом из подмышек,

С огромным ртом и удом, с толстым брюхом,

Но все ж не выше, сэр, чем вы иль я —

На Бреге Орков жили — это было

Не место, а сплошной и дикий ужас,

Где в футе было три и тридцать дюймов,

И где за пенни покупался хряк.

Теперь уже их нет, ни одного,

По счастью, их не терпит наше время,

Осталась только тень их жуткой славы,

Их образы, что воют на холмах

(Повернуты широкой пастью к ветру),

И ляжки их гранитные целуют

Крестьяне в Майский День, и их колени.

Сколь многое в них было достославно:

Они огромной глоткой пели громче,

Чем сто церковных хоров, длинным удом

Упрямейшее девство штурмовали,

Их крепкое, вместительное брюхо

Варило камни и стекло, как устриц.

Они копали ямы, насыпали

Курганы, изменяли русло рек,

С медведями боролись, и остался

Их след в тех тонкогубых, с малым удом,

С желудком нежным, жителях Тропы

Пигмеев. Из-за этого смешенья,

Фут стал семь дюймов, а за десять пенсов

Не купишь и обглоданную кость.

И кто рассудит орков и пигмеев —

Текст громовой и слезный комментарий —

Читая их, почувствует, как члены

Растут и сокращаются его.

About the Author:

Robert Graves
England & Spain

Robert Graves (24 July 1895 – 7 December 1985) was a British poet, historical novelist, critic, and classicist. He has 55 collections of poetry to his name, 15 novels and 40 non-fiction  works.

About the Translator:

Shlomo Krol
Tel Aviv, Israel

Shlomo Krol translates poetry from Hebrew, English, Italian, Latin. In his early years, he lived in St. Petersburg. He moved to Israel in 1992. Currently, he lives in Tel Aviv.

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