Today, September 30th, is Saint Jerome’s name day according to the Roman Church calendar, and St Jerome is the patron saint of translators. So happy Translators’ Day, fellow readers!
Do stop a moment and think about the latest books you’ve read in translation. I hope it was good, and you may want to say a little thank you to that translator! Feel free to share your gratitude for his/her work in the comments.
(What? You are regretting the experience of reading in translation? Feel free to share that, too. Translators are always happy to learn from their mistakes.)
I celebrate by sharing this poem I found online dedicated to Saint Jerome. Apparently, it was made into a song, but I couldn’t find the tune.
The Thunderer, by Phyllis McGinley
God’s angry man, his crotchety scholar
Was Saint Jerome, the great name-caller
Who cared not a dime for the laws of libel
And in his spare time translated the Bible.
Quick to disparage all arts but learning,
Jerome liked marriage better than burning
But didn’t like woman’s painted cheeks;
Didn’t like Romans, didn’t like Greeks,
Hated Pagans for their Pagan ways,
Yet doted on Cicero all his days.
A born reformer, cross and gifted,
He scolded mankind sterner than Swift did;
Worked to save the world from the heathen;
Fled to a cave for peace to breathe in,
Promptly wherewith for miles around
He filled the air with fury and sound.
In a mighty prose, for almighty ends,
He thrust at his foes, quarreled with his friends,
And served his Master though with complaint.
He wasn’t a plaster sort of saint.
But he swelled men’s minds with a Christian leaven.
It takes all kinds to make a heaven.