English 18th-Century Women Poets and Maciej Kazimierz Sarbiewski: Adaptation, Paraphrase, Translation

Krzysztof Fordoński


The paper deals with six poems of three 18th-century English women poets—Lady Mary Chudleigh, Mary Masters, and Anne Steele “Theodosia”—inspired by the works of the greatest Polish Neo-Latin poet Maciej Kazimierz Sarbiewski. The aim of the study is to present the three authors, their biographies and literary oeuvres, and to attempt an analysis of the poems in question within this context.

The biographies, social position—Chudleigh was the wife a baronet, the two others belonged to the middle class—and education of the three authoresses differ and yet they all shared the limitations resulting from the fact that they were women in 18th-century England, and were therefore denied access to academic education. The analysis of the texts and biographies has proven that it is highly improbable that either of the three women poets could translate the poems from Latin originals. All of their translations are based on earlier renditions; in the case of Chudleigh it is possible to identify the source text, that is the translation by John Norris.

Inasmuch as it can be ascertained from the available biographical and critical sources and the results, the attitudes of the three poetesses towards their work varied. Only Masters acknowledged the source material in her publications. Although the current concepts of translation are different, her two poems: On a Fountain. Casimir, Lib. Epod. Ode 2 and Casimir, Lib. I. Ode 2—qualify as translations by the standards of her times. They are analysed here in detail. Neither Chudleigh nor Steele mentioned Sarbiewski in their publications. Their decision can be justified by the fact that their poems, even if clearly (though most likely indirectly) inspired by his lyrics, must be classified as free adaptations or even original poetry influenced by Sarbiewski or earlier translations and adaptations of his works.

Słowa kluczowe: Maciej Kazimierz Sarbiewski, Mathias Casimirus Sarbievius, literary translation, Neo-Latin poetry, Augustan poetry, adaptation, poetry in translation, women poets

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