Archives for 5 January 2013

‘La libertà di pensiero’ (‘Freedom of Thought’), by Trilussa

Un gatto bianco, ch’era presidente
der circolo der libbero pensiero,
senti che er gatto nero,
libbero pensatore come lui,
je faceva la critica
riguardo a la politica
ch’era contraria a li principi sui.
–Giacchè nun badi a li fattacci tui,
–je disse er gatto bianco inviperito–
rassegnerai le proprie dimissioni
e uscirai dalle file der partito:
chè qui la poi pensa’ libberamente
come te pare a te, ma a condizzione
che t’associ a l’idee der presidente
e a le proposte della commissione!
–E’ vero, ho torto, ho aggito malamente. . . .–
rispose er gatto nero.
E pe’ resta’ ner libbero pensiero
da quella vorta nun penso’ piu’ gnente.


A white cat, who had been made the chair-cat
Of an Association for the Freedom of Thought,
Got news that a black cat,
A member of the same Association,
Would criticize his views
For he did not agree
With the white cat’s political principles.

–Since you won’t mind your own bloody business
– said the white cat to the black one in a rage –
You will resign – out of your own free will –
And leave our Party ranks for good:
’cause here you can think freely and as you please
So long as you accept the chair-cat’s views
And the Political Commitee’s proposals!

–It’s true, I’m wrong, what I’ve done wasn’t right . . .–
the black cat answered;
And to be allowed to remain Freethinker
From then on he never thought anything again.

[Translation supplied by Fabio Paolo Barbieri]

‘Beowulf Meets Godsylla’, by Tom Weller

I’ve been reading Beowulf in the original, and as you can imagine, having a wee bit of trouble with the language. Still, the stirring descriptions of combat and the thunderous roll of the alliterative metre fully justify the poem’s reputation as the fountainhead of English literature:

Meanehwæl, baccat meaddehæle,     monstær lurccen;
Fulle few too many drincce,     hie luccen for fyht.
Ðen Hreorfneorhtðhwr,     son of Hrwærowþheororthwl,
Æsccen æwful jeork     to steop outsyd.
Þhud! Bashe! Crasch! Beoom!     Ðe bigge gye
Eallum his bon brak,     byt his nose offe;
Wicced Godsylla     wæld on his asse.
Monstær moppe fleor wyþ     eallum men in hælle.
Beowulf in bacceroome     fonecall bamaccen wæs;
Hearen sond of ruccus     sæd, “Hwæt ðe helle?”
Graben sheold strang     ond swich-blæd scharp
Stond feorth to fyht     ðe grimlic foe.
“Me,” Godsylla sæd,     “mac ðe minsemete.”
Heoro cwyc geten heold     wiþ fæmed half-nelson
Ond flyng him lic frisbe     bac to fen
Beowulf belly up     to meaddehæle bar,
Sæd, “Ne foe beaten     mie færsom cung-fu.”
Eorderen cocca-cohla     yce-coeld, ðe reol þyng.

—Tom Weller, Cvltvre Made Stvpid

But somehow methinks Tom Weller, þætte rihte ealde Englisce scop, could have spun out England’s national epic to more than eighteen lines. Still, not bad for a culture that only emerged from the barbarous night of the Dark Ages in 1987, when Þacere ruled in Heorot.

Both Cvltvre Made Stvpid and its companion volume, Science Made Stupid, are unfortunately out of print, but they are now available as free downloads — with the author’s permission! Find them both here: