A challenge to the reader
For some reason OMM echoes in the Dutch translation of Twelfth-Night by Gerrit Komrij (1943-2012) the words: ‘all must die.’ Komrij’s translation also includes some wordplay on OMM’s later title, which is Carpe Diem.
Toef bij je trouwe minnezanger, Dwell with your faithfull love-singer,
—–Hoor zijn zucht, zijn luid geraas. —–Hear his sigh, his loud din.
—–Nu is nu, dus pluk de dag, ——Now is now, so pick the day,
Wie zal straks de tranen tellen? Who will presently count the tears?
A butterfly is definitely not the kind of mistress to expect a monogamous attitude from. In consequence two lines in the second verse are pointing straight at her fate of ending up singing the Song of Willow. According to line six Komrij also noticed Shakespeare’s habit to reverse things, and the funny grammar of line 3 is relocated to line 5. If ‘versmelt’ (‘fuse’) is used in the usual meaning as ‘becoming one’, which equals ‘to die’, Komrij appears in this same line to contradict himself. Which happens to correspond remarkably well with Shakespeare in the Song of Willow – a scene also translated by Komrij – and with RVW in Sweet Day (see Part One), so Komrij did not insert some pure nonsense. And it is a nice little challenge to make sense of it.
In this attempt the answer of Part One’s challenge will prove very usefull: the precise nature of the love affair as reflected by OMM’s structure. This will not only remove the contradiction from Komrij’s fifth line, but also the contrast from Shakespeare’s third. If you are still working on that riddle, try to solve it the other way round. Different as they are, both lines are describing the very same thing that is reflected by the structure. There is no need to consult me to compare notes. By the time you’ll drop from your chair, you’ll know you have cracked the nut.
With his fifth line Gerrit Komrij puts on the record that he had gone all the way a long time before us. And, what is more, he has managed with superior ease to incorperate this hidden layer in his translation. At which point in my analysis my own clumsy attempts to that result went straight into the paper bin. But then; Gerrit Komrij is in The Netherlands not primarly acknowledged as a first rate translator, he principally is the country’s first ever appointed Poet Laureate.
Judged by the contents of my paper bin, it is no pleasure to have the results of one’s analysis confirmed by an authority. And the results themselves were no better. To discover the sexual innuendo in O Mistress Mine was a real disappointment for this amateur songtext translator, who had been looking forward to this opportunity to submerge himself in some first rate poetry. But in the next and final part of this article we will find out there is much more to discover, and the conclusion must be that OMM is a masterpiece by all standards. Porn included.
As we have seen it is possible to interprete SD the same way as OMM, turning it into an exact copy of her. And The Willow Song brings no improvement:
The ‘dew’ will weep your fall tonight‘
Apparently it is possible to weep in company, which makes this song is as ambiguous as the others, for there is no word on the poor soul weeping in so…… CENSORED
It is a little premature to interrupt the line of reasoning already at this early stage, but it will lead up to the same break as at the first occasion anyway. Yet, this second part of “The Art of Ralph Vaughan Willams” has widened the visible crack in this marvellous crossword enough to allow the real enthousiast a reconstruction of all deleted information. This is no crossword contest, so there will be no reward. Except, of course, the perpetual banishment of Desdemona from school’s dull poetry lessons.
The first piece of vital information on her song is to be found in Book of Genesis (a photographic precise illustration of the verse in question can be consulted instead), because in matters of love, symbolism is not restricted to willows. The next tip of the veil is lifted by a remark at the centre of this second part. And to appreciate its value it is paramount to know that The Song of Willow has the poor soul ‘singing’ in the 1623 folio edition, where The Willow Song makes her ‘sighing’.
Meanwhile, this song’s deleted four lines in reversed chronology are not just replaced by OMM, its first line answers the replacement’s opening question as well. Good reason to re-arrange the order of songs at the first opportunity, which comes down on connecting OMM directly to SD. Their go-between being moved out of the way as recorded on CD by the Holst Singers (CDA 66777). A demonstration of textexpression which makes one nearly wonder what kind of reasoning made this release to carry a number that refers to the total of lines in the Part Songs.
Who fully understands in what peril the pour soul is submerged, is free to apply this knowledge on Part Two’s censored paragraph , and to reconstruct its deleted lines. This will drag Sweet Day and O Mistress Mine together to the new fathomed (wil)low level, if not deeper down. The porn-movie then emerging from their lines is confirmed by every detail in OMM’s structure. As preluded: the authors were centuries ahead of their time. The third and final chapter of this love story will therefore be titled:
At the time of my research the only traced CD-recording of ‘Three Elizabethan Part Songs’ was part of the 1995 Hyperion release CDA 66777:
Over hill, over dale.
Holst Singers; Stephen Layton, conductor.
In 2007 Move Records followed suit with
Choir of Ormond College; Douglas Lawrence, conductor.