Off-topic request for opinion from all you literary types

mecha godscylla mechagodscylla at
Tue Jan 11 19:38:32 EST 2005

>Gili wrote:
> >Elise wrote:
> >>Equinoctial is an interesting,
> >>awkward sounding choice by the author.
> >
> >Good point. I guess that's why I didn't want to translate it into 
> >too obvious...

Minnow wrote:
>The trouble is that I somehow feel that in Israel rain isn't a sort of
>dreary nuisance that makes one feel fed-up and depressed at the beginning
>of winter ("oh Lord! six more months of *this*!") and so in Israel
>drubbling rain and mildly depressed tears haven't got the same sort of
>relationship anyhow.  "Equinoctial" also carries with it an inevitability:
>it's that time of year *every* year, it's *going* to rain at some point
>about then.  And one is *going* to be mildly depressed by that: all the mud
>and the raincoats and all the rest of the boring nuisance in store.

See, that's the thing. I've never heard of equinoctial gales and storms 
either and don't particularly anticipate rainy weather at that time of year. 
I guess it is hurricane season, but in most places I've lived September 
tends to be a warm, mellow month and things turn more exciting weather-wise 
during the second half of October.  I'm much more likely to think of a rainy 
November, February or March day. So that word evokes nothing so 
weather-specific.  For me it definitely comes down to cycles and harvest and 
the storm seemed incidental, or rather, important in a different way than 
yearly weather.  So it was really interesting to read responses from such 
different perspectives.

But I guess in my own reading, I still come down to cycles, balance points, 
harvests being what the rest of the poem is saying about the word 
equinoctial.  After all, if this was a summer solstice storm - if we just 
changed those words that give away the time of year - it would be a 
completely different poem in what its putting across about youth/age, 
birth/death, sowing/reaping, ignorance and bliss/knowledge and sorrow. So it 
is important that it is specifically the equinox and not just a seasonal 
storm.  And in the Southern hemisphere it would be the vernal equinox that 
would make sense. Does a southern hemisphere reader automatically make sense 
of the imagery as placing it in the northern hemisphere? Just wondering if I 
were a native southerner, would I feel that naturally the vernal equinox is 
the downslope to the shortest day - death, winter, endings - all that.

And why didn't Elizabeth Bishop cut to the chase? Is the equinox a 
propitious time to do a major working or not? ;)   Hmm, she's probably 
saying that certain types of weather magic are suited to various times of 
the year.  Why swim against the current, after all?  ;D

But back to Gili's translation dilemma. Why not the Hebrew word for 
'equinox?'  It doesn't matter if it never rains on the equinox in Israel as 
long as people realize that a rainstorm *somewhere* on that day is within 
the bounds of possibility. Right? I must be missing something/ have missed 
some emails or forgotten the important points.


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