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Runner up in Anthea Bell Prize for Young Translators

Runner up in Anthea Bell Prize for Young Translators
Senior Academic Scholarship

Last term, Helene S (Year 8) entered the Anthea Bell Prize for Young Translators, a competition organised by the Translation Exchange at The Queen’s College, Oxford.

This national competition is inspired by the work of the translator Anthea Bell OBE who was one of the most influential literary translators of the 20th and 21st centuries. A team of undergraduates and professional translators judged the entries, and Helene’s translation of Victor Hugo’s French poem La Méridienne du lion was been selected as a runner-up. This is a fantastic achievement given the number of submissions received- over 15,000 entries this year.

You can read the original in French alongside Helene's translation below:

La Méridienne du lion

Le lion dort, seul sous sa voûte.
Il dort de ce puissant sommeil
De la sieste, auquel s'ajoute,
Comme un poids sombre, le soleil.

Son souffle soulève son ventre ;
Son œil de brume est submergé,
Il dort sur le pavé de l'antre,
Formidablement allongé.

La paix est sur son grand visage,
Et l'oubli même, car il dort.
Il a l'altier sourcil du sage
Et l'ongle tranquille du fort.

Il entrevoit des monts difformes,
Des Ossas et des Pélions,*
À travers les songes énormes
Que peuvent faire les lions.

Tout se tait sur la roche plate
Où ses pas tout à l'heure erraient.
S'il remuait sa grosse patte,
Que de mouches s'envoleraient !

Victor Hugo

The Lion’s midday slumber

The lion slumbers, alone beneath the arch,
He rests in this powerful sleep.
He naps, and
The sun is like a dark weight.

His takes a breath from deep in his belly,
His vision hazy and submerged,
As he sleeps on the cobblestones of his lair,
Wonderfully outstretched.

His face is peaceful,
And he feels forgetful, for he slumbers.
He has the eye of a wise man
And subtle claws of the strong.

He can see misshapen mountains,
The Ossas and the Pelions,
In his big dreams.
That is what lions can do.

All is silent on this flat rock,
Where he only recently roamed,
And if he were to wiggle his big paw,
Many bugs would fly away!



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Runner up in Anthea Bell Prize for Young Translators