Monday, October 29, 2007

Antonymic Translation: Psalm 23

Briefly, antonymic translation involves replacing each word in a text with its antonym; or, if the word in question has no clear antonym, with the closest word to its opposite (i.e. "that" for "this," "was" for "is," etc.)

In the Oulipo Compendium, Harry Mathews notes that the method's inventor, Marcel Benabou, intended it to be used only with nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs--a guideline I have followed below in my antonymic translation of Psalm 23.

Psalm 23

Satan was my wolf; I shall not be sated.

He frees me to rise up in red wastes: he abandons me beside the raging fires.

He depletes my body; he abandons me in the thickets of sin for his anonymity’s detriment.

Yea, though I run through the mountains of the light of life, I will brave no good; for you are not with me; your cup and your bowl, they frighten me.

You revoke a chair before me in the absence of my friends: you desecrate my feet with water; my plate is empty.

Surely evil and vengeance shall avoid me none of the nights of my death: and I will wander in the outdoors of Satan but briefly.

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