10 Jul 2006

Ma Mignonne

In Douglas Hofstadter's extraordinary book Le ton beau de Marot he presents multiple translations of a 16th century french poem, and challenges readers to try their hands at their own translation.
You can find many attempts on the web, here's my mine (if any one out there *ever* googles their way to this page, please let me know!)

A Une Damoysell Malade
Clement Marot

To a poorly little girl

Ma mignonne,
Je vous donne
Le bon jour;
Le séjour
C'est prison.
Puis ouvrez
Votre porte
Et qu'on sorte
Car Clément
Le vous mande.
Va, friande
De ta bouche,
Qui se couche
En danger
Pour manger
Si tu dures
Trop malade,
Couleur fade
Tu prendras,
Et perdras
Dieu te doint
Santé bonne,
Ma mignonne

Princess mine,
Just a line
t'say 'hello';
You're so low
Jailed all day.
That I say
Get well soon!
Leave the room
Walk outside,
- door is wide -.
Run, even,
Uncle Stephen
Tells you so.
Out you go
Cure your ill
have your fill
of bread 'n' jam.
Or - I am
Warning you -
If your flu
Lingers on
You'll be wan
Pale and thin
Haggard skin.
Trust in me
God will see
You'll be fine,
Princess mine.

Here's a great discussion of Hofstadter and his works


Charles S. Harris said...

Hi, Botogol--

I, for one, googled my way to your Ma Mignonne page. I have been slogging through "Le ton beau de Marot", a few pages at a time, for the last year or so; I'm about 60% through (not counting the index, which Hofstadter says I should read too).

I was prompted to google Ma Mignonne by the 24 Nov. 2007 entry
in the I Do Things So You Don't Have To blog, which begins with these lines from Bjork's Eat the Menu:

. It's none of my business
. But you have to eat
. Your appetite is appalling

This reminded me of Ma Mignonne, so rather than go upstairs and fetch Hofstadter to find corresponding lines, I of course googled.

I like your translation! In fact, I like it more than MANY of those in H's book. Much less labored than many of H's own. "Princess mine" is a great stand-in for "ma mignonne". :-)

Just a couple of suggested changes:

1. Shouldn't "scoff" be "scarf"?
2. "of scones and jam" is the only 4-syllable line. Why not just "Scarf your fill:/Scones and jam"?
3. "If your flu/Lingers on" sounds more natural to me--also closer to the original.

All in all, a nice job!

Charles S. Harris
webmaster, The Nurture Assumption website
webmaster, No Two Alike website

botogol said...

Hi Charles- thanks for the kind comments!

scoff - that's a Britishism for scarf :-)

Your other suggestions: yes, I like them better. I'll change my text (which will confuse the next visitor....if there ever is a next visitor!)

Nancy said...

Five years since your post, you have another visitor. :-) I'm reading the book now and decided to post my own translations and thought it would be interesting to find others who had done the same thing. So yes, I found you by googling. I really like your version. I linked to it on my blog and I called it both faithful and clever. If you'd like to see mine, they're here: http://otherlives.blogspot.com/2011/06/ma-mignonne-ive-been-reading-wonderful.html

Botogol said...

Hi Nancy, thanks for that. Alas your blog is closed to visitors :-(