FEDRUSOWE FABLE SE PŚIGRANJAJU THE FABLES OF PHAEDRUS EXALT THEIR
VIRTUES
Kito Fryco Stempel trans. Robert Elsie (from Sorbian)
Tak smy se dejali daś hyščer pśełožyś
do serbskeje rěcy a mjazy luźimi
pak raz se pokazaś we nowem woblaku!
Co maśo nad nami kuli, wy cłowieki,
až z nami južo wušej dwaźasča stow lět
se nosyśo, a hyščer niźi žeden końc?
We aziskich stronach smy něga płoźone,
Esopos jo nas Gricham znatych wucynił,
a Fedrus pśełožy nas do latyńskego.
Kak wšakorakim jězykam smy dejali
za tym se pśiwucyś, chto wulicujo to?
Až golcy nas na swojich ławkach walaju
a z nami głowu łamu se, co mucyś nam.
Gaž pak wobmyslimy, až ako muže tuž
wšo rozgrono z našeju solu wosole,
se dajomy žgan byś, až njejsmy zabyte.
Jo, pola nas jo sama sol, šym lěpša jo,
śim wěcej ščipa. Abo niej' to wotša sol,
gaž dejš wot zwěrjeśa sebje wumjatowaś
daś złosč a błaznosč, a až njejsy mudrjejšy?
Co pak ze solu jo a k cornu wona dej,
to wiźi se na tom, až wugubijo se
pśez niu na łukach mech a drugi njewurěd
a narosčo tam potom sama kwiśina.
Ca, njedejali Serby teke měś tu sol,
až zgonili wot njeje wjele wužytka?
Ga kupśo sebje, lube Serby, taku sol!
It still remained for us to be translated
into the Sorbian language and show ourselves
to the people in a new dress!
Why have you taken such a fancy to us, mankind,
that you have been lugging us around with you now for over
two thousand years, and still there is no end to it?
On the continent of Asia we first came to life,
Aesop acquainted us with the Greeks
and Phaedrus translated us into Latin.
Into what multitude of languages we were then
transformed, who can count them all?
That boys on school-benches squirm
and rack their brains because of us vexes us indeed,
but when we consider that they, as grown men,
spice all their conversations with our salt,
we find it a consolation not to have been forgotten.
Yes, we are like good old salt. The better things are,
the spicier. For is salt not spicy
when you let some ass rebuke you for being wicked
or an idiot and say he's cleverer than you?
The benefit of salt can be seen in that
it destroys moss and other weeds
when sprinkled in the meadows,
allowing the flowers then to grow and blossom.
Well, you Sorbs, how about some salt
so that you, too, can discover its great benefit?
Try it out, my dear Sorbs. Here comes the salt!

Trans. Copyright © Robert Elsie 1990 - publ. Forest Books


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