Sappho’s Moon and Pleiades

Sappho’s Moon and Pleiades poem (Justin Tuijl translations)
On my writing degree we were asked to look at translations of poems.
One such was Sappho’s Moon and Pleiades, which was originally in old Greek, so there have been several translations of it. This article talks about it:
Sappho’s Moon and Pleiades

So anyway, here is me messing about with it:

Sappho’s Moon and Pleiades

Original Greek poem:
Δέδυκε μεν ἀ σελάννα
καὶ Πληΐαδεσ, μέσαι δὲ
νύκτεσ πάρα δ᾽ ἔρχετ᾽ ὤρα,
ἔγω δὲ μόνα κατεύδω

Google translate version:
Dedyke although a selanna
And Pliiades, through Dec
nyktes too d erchet hour,
I do not own katefdo

Corrected with Word spelling suggestions:
Eddie although a sultana
And Pleiades, through December
nukes too drenched this hour,
I do not own a kite

J Addington Symonds translation:
The Moon has left the sky,
Lost is the Pleiads’ light;
It is midnight,
And time slips by,
But on my couch alone I lie.

J Addington Symonds version in Pirate:
(http://postlikeapirate.com/)
Th’ Moon has left th’ sky, Lost be th’
Pleiads light; It be midnight,
‘n the hour slips by, But on me
couch alone I lie.
(ahgggg)

J Addington Symonds version in Klingon:
(http://tradukka.com)
chal mej mas.
vay’ chil pleiad tis;
‘ugh.
‘ej pong slips poh
‘ach jawvam niteb jiqot.

Mistranslated:
Mrs Moon had left Mr Sky
He had deleted her playlist
Now time ships are like pies
And now a new sofa he must buy

Misremembered, confused & stupid:
The frog has left
The pond under Pleedies
Plop on the couch
it lies

Twitter version:
@moon @pleiades #night #bored

This Is Just To Say

There have been many versions of “This Is Just To Say” by William Carlos Williams
This is the original, followed by a Scottish dialect one, and then my take, of the take(!):

William Carlos Williams:

This Is Just To Say

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
saving
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

Tom Leonard (Scottish dialect):

Jist ti Let Yi No

ahv drank
thi speshlz
that wurrin
thi frij

n thit
yiwurr probbli
hodn back
furthi pahrti

awright
they wur great
thaht stroang
thaht cawld

Justin Tuijl:

Totally chuffed that

I’ve snorted
yer charly
that yer were
hidin’ in the lav

and what
yer were totally
holdin’
out on me wiv

Fuck right off
it werra top class
sweet hit
and sick

Here are some more takes on the poem:

http://www.wildhoneypress.com/voices/Williams.htm

Poems by Justin Tuijl

Some free poems for you to read:

shatter (2020)

i find a wilderness walk
the size of a steam nozzle,
spurious in the extreme
of halting breath,
a beneficial but moaning discovery,
yes, my church is a type
that few can accept,
zonked as i am
in the frame of your control,
indeed direful,
and a less meaning ghost,
i toss my bright
and habitual coat
for the thrill of the
land vessel that scours
the earth lizards
like the police
of the clothes rail,
aromatic apples
shatter
new worlds

the drive back (2019)

we’re half way home
an hour left to drive
the car is old and the steering is vague
a wheel bearing is noisy, the headlights are dim
we have finished the take away coffees
the wet road winds and the wipers flick noisily
the odd car slows to pass on the narrow A road
and as we accelerate again your hand finds mine

i think of the past road
but i don’t want to think of what is ahead
if i could just freeze the moment
there is nothing good ahead

can you burn (2019)

Can’t even write
Can’t even think
Insidious cold
Brown wallpaper
and purple smoke
Fresh air and rainwater
Electric and water
Water and wood
Broken spade,
woodworm handle
Woodlice under buckets
dripping from the roof
Gas heater
monoxide detector
three bars
Crushed

apples, squashed oranges.
Music, music,
keyboard
Fire burning,
burning fire

let there be cake (2019)

the sun is falling
below the gravestone,
he made 83
when I was two

i expect the sun
is falling
everywhere

and none of it
means
a thing

stones
words
lives

deaths
and
tax

i expect when i am 83
none of
it
will still mean a thing

but for the sun
falling

and we did (2016)

And we did dominate nature and with our machines and mud and we did cover the trees with concrete yes and we did fill the air with unbreathable fumes yes we were selfish and we burned all the coal and the oil and we set fire to the fossil fuel to propel our progress and yes we made metal fly and tanks kill and we did pull all the fish from the sea and fill the water with plastic yes and we watched the snow vanishing more each year and loved the sun in January and yes we had cancer and yes we poisoned ourselves and the electric flowed into our machines and made more machines that used electric which was pushed in to the machines with long dead animals and we burned it to make weapons to kill each other and make money by selling more weapons and yes we did fly around the globe watching creatures die and floods and hurricanes and chopping down trees and yes we made money and we moved money about yes the rich had the money and they moved it to the rich and yes the poor had none and less than that and we were selfish and we should have known better and yes we didn’t in the end know better than the soup that we came from

Project Icarus – short story

Project Icarus – free to read story from my book: “What did you put in my coffee?”

I arrived at the secret RAF base somewhere in the heart of England, on a rainy evening in December. The guard looked at my NUJ press permit as my 911 purred at the checkpoint. I surveyed the tall barbed wire high-security electric fences both sides and the giant, hard metal gate ahead. No red and white poles across the gate here, I thought.

“You can’t come in,” said the guard from behind his riot helmet. “We’re on full security lockdown.”

“I know, pre-launch Red Alert lockdown,” I replied. “Air Chief Marshal Strickland will see me.” I was unable to see his face through the riot mask and the heavy armour gave no clue as to his body language.

“I’m sorry but you have to leave,” he said, his hand resting on the holster at his hip.

“Strickland is going to be very cross if you turn me away. We are personal friends.”

The guard was quiet for a moment. I could detect the slightest misgivings: no guard would want to upset Air Chief Marshal Strickland. “Wait there, sir,” he said and returned to the concrete guard box. For a moment I was unable to see him but he returned quickly. “Ok, sir, you are clear to enter.” There was a clanking of bolts and the great security gate started to open.

I drove through and parked the 911 by the low grey bunker. Usually, I would have been escorted but now there was not a soul to be seen. Rain lashed across the old airfield. The heavy clouds hid the moon and the lack of lighting made the dark bunker seem all the more foreboding.

I crossed quickly to the heavy door. There was no shelter here from the rain. I held my hand over my head, stupidly. I had expected someone to be waiting for me. There was no way to alert those inside. No doorbell on a high-security bunker.

I stood wondering what to do when I heard the tiniest noise from the great slab of the door. Then the bolts thumped back and the door started to hum open on electric motors. Gradually the space beyond was revealed. Fluorescent light spilt out. A figure stood inside.

The figure was not what I had been expecting during a high-security lockdown. He wore a white lab coat, held a clipboard and perched on his face were almost comical bottle top glasses. A perfect example of a scientist, I thought.

“Hello,” he said. “Strickland sent me along to get you. I’m Rupert Feynman, hum, Professor. I’m Chief Scientist for Project Icarus.” He held out his hand.

Feynman and I walked along the dim concrete corridors. I asked him about the project. He stopped and turned to look at me, gripping his clipboard. For a few moments he was unable to speak, clearly an inner struggle was happening. “I really shouldn’t say this,” he finally ground out, “but they are crazy. Strickland, the World President, Project Icarus, it’s complete madness.” Then he went quiet and a worried frown suggested he thought he’d said too much.

“Anything you say to me will be in strictest confidence.”

“Oh yeah, you and your readership.”

“Maybe.”

“I don’t care anymore,” he said recklessly. “I’ve been locked up alone with Strickland and it’s driving me mad.”

“What about the World President?”

“Yes, they are constantly talking over video conference.”

“The World President is still in America?”

“Yes, he’s in the White Towers, I-”

The Tannoy boomed, cutting him off. I recognised Strickland’s voice. “Will Professor Feynman and the visitor report to me immediately?”

Feynman turned his anguished eyes to me. “We’d better hurry.”

The lift dropped like a stone down into the bunker. There were no floor numbers on the control panel, just up and down. My heart was left far behind as we seemed to drop miles into the ground. Finally, it stopped and brought up so quickly that I felt faint. Feynman just stood there unconcerned, with his worried frown; the drop had meant nothing to him.

We hurried along more drab concrete corridors and then arrived at some gold plated doors. Feynman punched a code into a keypad by the side and the doors slid open to reveal a plush office. Strickland was standing behind a fine mahogany desk, staring at us.

“About time too,” she said. “You’re late.”

“Sorry,” I said. “Security wouldn’t let me in.”

“Don’t make excuses. I needed you here.”

“It won’t happen again.”

“No, it won’t.”

Little did I know then how prophetic this was.

Strickland wore an RAF uniform with a row of ribbons on her chest. The Air Chief Marshal uniform left one in no doubt as to how important she was. Her desk was amazingly clear; in fact, there was nothing on it at all. The right-hand wall contained a huge screen. The main picture was of another desk, which I recognised as the World President’s desk, empty. There were also three floating video feed windows. One showed the vast Project Icarus silo, the second the Project Icarus spacecraft command cockpit and the third was from the screen’s own webcam showing the office we stood in. On the cockpit feed there were several space pilots engaged in launch preparations. On our feed: we three looking at the screen. I looked again at the silo feed; vast space rockets ranged underground as far as the eye could see.

Strickland turned to me and saw my gaze resting on the screen. “Project Icarus: the greatest project known to humankind,” she said.

Feynman stirred and looked from me to the screen, to Strickland and back to me. His mouth opened and closed a few times as if he desperately wanted to say something but dare not. I said it for him.

“I have heard that Project Icarus could be our biggest folly ever.” I felt Feynman stiffen; the atmosphere in the room became brittle.

“Nonsense!” she spat. “You know the World President’s stance ‘There are no problems.’ This is what we live by.”

“I have heard,” I persisted, “that the launch of Project Icarus could be humankind’s ultimate blunder. Catastrophic environmental repercussions; everyone knows the World President’s views on the environment. The experimental and untested fuel, who knows what it could do?”

“Enough. I have brought you here to report on the launch, not to question it. Project Icarus is in line with policy. We are reaching for the stars, not pandering to these unfounded environmental concerns. There are no problems. Deep space exploration is the most important mission to humankind.”

At that moment a different voice entered the room. Strickland looked at the big screen. The World President was sitting in his chair. “There are no problems I hope, Strickland?”

“No sir, the launch is going ahead as planned. There are no problems.”

“Good, I would hate to think anyone was stupid enough to think Project Icarus wasn’t mankind’s ultimate undertaking.” He raised both of his thumbs, his favourite gesture.

“Of course not, Mr President,” said Strickland.

The President kept his eyes on Strickland, ignoring us completely. “How long until launch countdown?”

“Whenever you are ready, Mr President.”

“Good. Now is the moment.” There was a launch panel on his desk and the President turned to it.

“Mr President,” I said. Strickland and Feynman turned to me in horror but the President carried on as if he had heard nothing. “Please, Mr President, this is-”

Pain shot through my body and I went completely rigid. I was unable to talk. My muscles spasmed wildly. Vaguely I was aware of seeing the President pressing the launch button. Then the pain stopped and I dropped to the floor. Feynman tried to catch me.

“T minus five minutes,” boomed a robotic voice.

Feynman lowered me onto a soft couch. My body ached unbearably. He pulled the darts from under my chest connected to the wires from the TASER that Strickland had now put down on the desk. “It’s too late,” he said. “The launch countdown has started. Strickland TASERED you to shut you up.”

“Can’t you do something? You are the chief scientist.”

“There are no problems,” he said, a glazed look on his face.

“Come on man, that’s not what you said to me before.”

He looked down at me, his magnified eyes blinking like a confused owl. Strickland and the President were talking excitedly over the video link. Feynman looked at the screen and Strickland and to me.

“Isn’t there a way to override the launch?” I persisted.

“Yes, yes there is. I’ll be hard pushed to get there in time.”

“This isn’t about you and me, Feynman. Humankind, all life is at stake. It’s in your hands.”

He looked at me a moment longer, then quite suddenly seemed to arrive at a decision and left through the gold plated doors without a word. Strickland snatched a glance to the doors as they thumped closed, then turned back to the President.

“Don’t worry about him,” she said. “He can’t do anything.”

“There are no problems,” he returned.

“There are problems,” I said. They both ignored me.

Despite her dismissive attitude to Feynman, Strickland switched on another insert on her screen. This showed Feynman hurrying down a series of corridors over the security cameras. The feed tracked him.

“T minus four minutes.”

Gradually my senses were coming back. I kept an eye on Strickland, as I wanted to avoid another TASER shock.

“This is insane.”

Strickland turned to me. “You are here to report, not comment.”

“Report on what? The end of the world?”

“It’s not the end, it’s a new beginning. The stars are our destiny!”

I watched the screen. Feynman was running to the launch silo. The astronauts were busy with launch preparation and strapping in one by one. Smoke was building in the great launch silo. The President sat there holding his thumbs up as he watched his own video feeds.

“Strickland, we’re all going to die.”

“Nonsense, there are no problems.”

I sat up on the couch and looked closely at the screen.

“T minus three minutes.”

Feynman had reached the door to the rocket silo and was fiddling with the keypad. Strickland watched intently. The astronauts all sat immobile in their seats. The President continued to hold up his thumbs as if he could hold the pose all day. Flames started to lick from the bottom of the great rockets. I felt the floor start to shudder.

“Strickland,” I said, standing shakily.

“Be quiet.”

“T minus two minutes.”

Feynman had opened the door and was clearly shocked by the heat coming from the silo. He ran to a control panel and started to press buttons. Strickland, the President and the astronauts were all immobile like dummies.

“Project Icarus will incinerate the Earth,” I said desperately, now the panic seized me.

“T minus one minute.”

Flames started to fill the silo and Feynman battled with the control panel; he looked very hot.

“T minus thirty seconds.”

Finally I knew then that this was the end and that I was going to die. I looked at the feed on the screen but the walls had started to shake and I had to sit down or fall down. The screen looked blurred. I could no longer tell what anyone was doing. Everything felt hot. My head was thundering. Everything was shaking and bending and melting. Everything looked blurred.

“Ten.”

I hoped Feynman was still going to stop it. I hoped he hadn’t burnt to death already.

“Nine.”

I hoped that nine seconds was enough to save the earth.

I really couldn’t tell what seconds were anymore.

The End

This is from my book Justin Tuijl: What did you put in my coffee?