Jerry: Show me the money

Jerry, Jerome, Hieronymus, thou patron
Of fools-rush-in who translate, pray for us.
I always wondered how you got a lion
To be your agent. Pity the officious

Publisher. You show up, Leo in tow;
Is that a growl, or purr? In any case,
He makes your case for you, and back you go,
To cell and skull and the triliteral base

Of some strange verb form. With a nice advance.
For widows and for orphans, goes without saying;
It’s what saints do. Leo, meanwhile, will prance
Catlike, and sun himself; no cat for praying.

Rent on the cell is paid for, though; Leo
Warded away, pro tem., the Babylonian woe.

5 thoughts on “Jerry: Show me the money

  1. Thanks to the ‘nigra sum’ from Monteverdi’s Vespers, and speaking of the other Mary, I dabbled a little bit in Jerome’s translation of Song of S. “Tempus putationis advenit.” The Hebrew word for ‘putatio’ is mizmor, which commonly means “song”, but does have a 2nd definition as “pruning”, putatio. Why does Jerome pick this much rarer definition instead of the more natural “song/singing”, cantatio, or some word for a marriage song?

    don’t know. why associate marriage and its consummation with pruning? cuz what did Jerome know about pruning, that’s why!

    thanks for the poems.

    • I’d venture to guess it’s partly because of the context — all those seasonal/agricultural references. AV has “singing”, as you suggest, supplying “of birds” which is not in the original text. Gesenius plumps for “pruning”, referring the word back to the root ZMR, which seems to mean originally something like “pluck”. Mizmor comes from the same root, because maybe plucking the strings of a harp or lyre? But it’s a passive pi’el participle, I think (“something plucked over”). Hard to see how it could turn ha-zzmir. LXX goes with “pruning” too. Which probably had some influence on ole Jerry. What time of year do people prune things anyway, especially grapevines?

      • well, duh, i didn’t even look at LXX. in any case, Jerome will sometimes “correct” LXX. singing seems to make more sense in context, but pruning seems to have some weight as the “more difficult reading”. and yes, when are trees pruned exactly? but i don’t see how we get from “to pluck” to “to prune” or vice versa. have to bone up on my dendrology. but maybe the connection is to plucking fruit?

        some will be pruned and some will sing, when the ax is laid to the root? the ambiguity itself in the word is not without value. anyway, more plucking…

        from the song of the bee and of the lightning:
        RSV Judges 5: 11
        To the sound of *musicians at the watering places,
        there they repeat the triumphs of the Lord,
        the triumphs of his peasantry in Israel.

        AKJV ditto
        They that are delivered from the noise of *archers in the places of drawing water,
        there shall they rehearse the righteous acts of the Lord,
        even the righteous acts toward the inhabitants of his villages in Israel

        per BDB, it’s a piel particle formed from the standard word for “arrow.”

        musicians as archers? to pluck the bow and lyre. reeds can be used to make arrows…or flutes. or paper arrows and bullets of the brain.

        “…An I
        have not ballads made on you all and sung to filthy
        tunes, let a cup of sack be my poison:” Falstaff, the “poet-warrior” who is not David (Ps 144) or Achilles or Odysseus.

        take it away Miles

        • The commentators seem to think it’s pruning grapevines, not trees, and apparently (so teh Goog tells me) this is done in the spring, or very late winter, when there’s no more danger of a hard frost. I don’t find the bridge from “pluck” to “prune” difficult.

  2. after a couple of minutes on the innerwebs, i’ve concluded neither plucking fruit or pruning trees occurs in the season when flowers appear. but during the season of love, get out the hooks and shears. and lawnmowers. and etc. i totally get why a modern assumes that love’s blossom needs to be hacked away and shaped into a garden suitable to the tastes and needs of the timber industry and strip miners (i am in the pacific nw…), why putting price tags on garbage at Wal Mart is more important than the Wal Mart staff getting it on with each other, even on lunch break, but why “the 70 elders” of the LXX? and even Jerome himself, though I guess religious celibacy becomes a factor in his case?

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