Archive for ‘Translation’

Sunday, 29 January 2023

Erratum by Norman Erikson Pasaribu

What was he thinking here, picking this body
and this family, where being match-made
with your mother’s niece was possible,
where first-born sons always meant everything,
and here, falling in love with the boy
who sat beside him at school,
when all that lingered of first love was that first kiss
they shared when cutting PE,
and here, not long after his first book came out,
as his family sat cross-legged together and ate,
he told them it wouldn’t end with any girl,
much less the Toba or Karo kind,
and here as he stood by the side of the road
that night, all alone, cars passing him,
his father’s words hounding him,
Don’t ever come back, Banci,
and he wept under a streetlight, frightened
at the first drops of rain misting his hair,
and here when he realised something odd about
the text that was his life and hoped sometime soon
the Publisher would print an erratum
to restore the lost lines, wherein
he’d know he was everything and also nothing
was wrong with him, and he’d know
what lingered of first love
was that very first kiss, bestowed
back when his family sat cross-legged together
and ate, grateful because he had picked
this body and this family?

From: https://peril.com.au/back-editions/edition-38/erratum-poetry/

Date: 2015 (original in Indonesian); 2019 (translation in English)

By: Norman Erikson Pasaribu (1990- )

Translated by: Tiffany Tsao (19??- )

Saturday, 14 January 2023

Highway by Malathi Maitri

Along the highways
of a refugee’s life
snapshots of childhood memories
hang:
hedges overspread with field bean
thick with honeybees,
a courtyard filled with goat droppings,
the shade of a portia-tree,
school children under a neem-tree,
a pond swarming with buffaloes
woods echoing with the koel’s song
the sea-shore where sea-birds call.

The highways carry us along
to yet other highways.

From: https://wordswithoutborders.org/read/article/2015-04/highway/

Date: 2011 (original in Tamil); 2015 (translation in English)

By: Malathi Maitri (1968- )

Translated by: Lakshmi Holmström (1935-2016)

Thursday, 17 November 2022

Alba by Giraut de Bornelh

“King of splendor, brightness
true and clear,
Almighty God, abet, I make my prayer,
the friend I have not seen
since night began,
now that the dawn is near.

Say, friend, are you awake?
O sleep no more,
but sweetly rise: I see the eastern star,
the herald to the daylight
growing bright,
and dawn is near.

I sing, my friend, for you:
then sleep no more;
birds seek the daylight in the trees; I fear
the cuckold will surprise
your ardent eyes,
for dawn is near.

Go to your window, friend,
see where each star
grows faint in heaven; quickly, lest you bear
a heavy loss this morning,
heed my warning,
for the dawn is near.

I have not moved, friend, since
you left me here,
nor slept, but knelt to Mary’s son in prayer,
that my companion he
restore to me,
and now the dawn is near.

You sought me, friend, to watch
upon the stair,
never to sleep all night, never to tire
till daybreak: has my friend
my song disdained
now that the dawn is near?”—

“Sweet friend, I wish the day
might dawn no more,
so rich my pleasures: holding the most fair
of women, can I care
some jealous fool is near,
or that the dawn is here?”

From: Orgel, Stephen, “Alba by Giraut De Bornelh” in Poetry, August-September 1970, pp. 356-357.
(https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/browse?volume=116&issue=5&page=89)

Date: 12th century (original in Occitan); 1970 (translation in English)

By: Giraut de Bornelh (c1138-1215)

Translated by: Stephen Orgel (1933- )

Wednesday, 16 November 2022

The Peasant by Gottfried August Bürger

To His Gracious Tyrant

Who are you, Prince, that without fear,
Your wagon wheel may crush me,
Your horse may dash me down?

Who are you, Prince, that into  my flesh
Your friend, your hunting-dog, unwhipped,
May sink his claws and jaw?

Who are you, that through crops and woods,
The yelling of your hunt will drive me,
Panting like the game?—

The crop that’s trampled by your hunt,
What horse and dog and you devour,
The bread, Prince, is mine.

You, Prince, did not, with harrow and plow,
Sweat through the day of harvest.
The effort and the bread are mine!—

Ha! You claim authority from God?
God hands out blessings; you but rob!
You are not sent by God, tyrant!

From: Mathieu, Gustave and Stern, Guy, German Poetry: A Selection from Walther von der Vogelweide to Bertolt Brecht in German with English Translation, 1970, Dover Publications: New York,  p; 31.
(https://archive.org/details/germanpoetrysele0000math/page/30/mode/2up)

Date: 1773 (original in German); 1959 (translation in English)

By: Gottfried August Bürger (1747-1794)

Translated by: Gustave Bording Mathieu (1921-2007) and Guy Stern (1922- )

Saturday, 29 October 2022

The Vampire by Delmira Agustini

In the bosom of the sad evening
I called upon your sorrow… Feeling it was
Feeling your heart as well. You were pale
Even your voice, your waxen eyelids,

Lowered… and remained silent… You seemed
To hear death passing by… I who had opened
Your wound bit on it—did you feel me?—
As into the gold of a honeycomb I bit!

I squeezed even more treacherously, sweetly
Your heart mortally wounded,
By the cruel dagger, rare and exquisite,
Of a nameless illness, until making it bleed in sobs!
And the thousand mouths of my damned thirst
I offered to that open fountain in your suffering.
.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .

Why was I your vampire of bitterness?
Am I a flower or a breed of an obscure species
That devours sores and gulps tears?

From: https://poets.org/poem/vampire-3

Date: 1910 (original in Spanish); 2003 (translation in English)

By: Delmira Agustini (1886-1914)

Translated by: Alejandro Cáceres (19??- )

Wednesday, 28 September 2022

The Answer Quhilk Schir David Lindesay Maid to the Kingis Flyting by David Lyndsay with rough rendering into more modern English and notes by flusteredduck

Redoutit roy, your ragment I have red,
Quhilk dois perturb my dull intendement:
From your flyting, wald God that I wer fred,
Or ellis sum tygerris toung wer to me lent.
Schir, pardone me thocht I be impacient,
Quhilk bene so with your prunyeand pen detractit,
And rude report, from Venus court dejectit.

Lustie ladyis, that your libellis lukis
My cumpanie dois hald abhominable,
Commandand me beir cumpanie to the cukis;
Moist lyke ane devill, thay hald me detestable.
Thay banis me, sayand I am nocht able
Thame to compleis, or preis to thare presence.
Apon your pen I cry ane loud vengeance!

Wer I ane poeit, I suld preis with my pen
To wreik me on your vennemous wryting.
Bot I man do as dog dois in his den —
Fald baith my feit, or fle fast frome your flyting.
The mekle devil may nocht indure your dyting.
Quharefor cor mundum crea in me I cry,
Proclamand yow the prince of poetry.

Schir, with my prince pertenit me nocht to pley.
Bot sen your grace hes gevin me sic command
To mak answer, it must neidis me obey.
Thocht ye be now strang lyke ane elephand,
And in till Venus werkis maist vailyeand,
The day wyll cum, and that within few yeiris,
That ye wyll draw at laiser with your feiris.

Quhat can ye say forther, bot I am failyeit
In Venus werkis, I grant schir, that is trew;
The tyme hes bene, I wes better artailyeit
Nor I am now, bot yit full sair I rew
That ever I did mouth thankles so persew.
Quharefor tak tent and your fyne powder spair,
And waist it nocht bot gyf ye wit weill quhair.

Thocht ye rin rudelie, lyke ane restles ram,
Schutand your bolt at mony sindrie schellis,
Beleif richt weill, it is ane bydand gam.
Quharefore bewar with dowbling of the bellis,
For many ane dois haist thair awin saule knellis,
And speciallie quhen that the well gois dry,
Syne can nocht get agane sic stufe to by.

I give your counsale to the feynd of hell
That wald nocht of ane princes yow provide,
Tholand yow rin schutand frome schell to schell,
Waistand your corps, lettand the tyme overslyde.6
For lyke ane boisteous bull ye rin and ryde
Royatouslie, lyke ane rude rubeatour,
Ay fukkand lyke ane furious fornicatour.

On ladronis for to loip ye wyll nocht lat,
Howbeit the caribaldis cry the corinoch.
Remember how, besyde the masking fat,
Ye caist ane quene overthort ane stinking troch?
That feynd, with fuffilling of hir roistit hoch,
Caist doun the fat, quharthrow drink, draf and juggis
Come rudely rinnand doun about your luggis.

Wald God the lady that luffit yow best
Had sene yow thair ly swetterand lyke twa swyne!
Bot to indyte how that duddroun wes drest —
Drowkit with dreggis, quhimperand with mony quhryne —
That proces to report, it wer ane pyne.
On your behalf, I thank God tymes ten score
That yow preservit from gut and frome grandgore.

Now schir, fairwell, because I can nocht flyte,
And thocht I could, I wer nocht tyll avance
Aganis your ornate meter to indyte.

Bot yit, be war with lawbouring of your lance:
Sum sayis thar cummis ane bukler furth of France,
Quhilk wyll indure your dintis, thocht thay be dour.
Fairweill, of flowand rethorik the flour!

Quod Lindesay in his flyting
Aganis the Kingis dyting.

The Answer which Sir David Lindsay made to the King’s Scolding

Redoubtable king, your composition I have read,
Which does perturb my dull understanding:
From your scolding, would God that I were freed,
Or else that a tiger’s tongue were to me lent.
Sir, pardon me though I be impatient,
Who is being with your sharpened pen detracted,
And rude report, from Venus’ court dejected.

Lovely ladies, that your letters consult
My company do hold abominable,
Commanding me bear company to the cooks;
Most like a devil, they hold me detestable.
They banish me, saying I am not able
Them to please, or hasten to their presence.
Upon your pen I cry a loud vengeance!

Were I a poet, I should strive with my pen
To avenge me on your venomous writing.
But I must do as a dog does in his den—
Fold both my feet, or flee fast from your scolding.
The great devil may not endure your writing.
Wherefore “cor mundum crea in me” I cry,
Proclaiming you the prince of poetry.

Sir, with my prince it befits me not to contend.
But since your grace has given me such a command,
To make answer, it must needs me to obey.
Though you be now strong like an elephant,
And in all Venus’ works most valiant,
The day will come, and that within a few years,
That you will be at leisure with your friends.

What can you say further, but I am a failure
In Venus’ works, I grant, sir, that is true;
The time has been, I was better armed
Nor I am now, but yet full sore I rue
That ever I did mouth thankless so pursue.
Wherefore take heed and your fine powder spare,
And waste it not but well you know where.

Though you run rudely, like a restless ram,
Shooting your bolt at many sundry targets,
Belief right well, it is a biding game.
Wherefore beware of the doubling of the bells,
For many a one hastens their own soul’s knell,
And specially when that the well goes dry,
Such stuff cannot again be bought.

I give your council to the fiend of hell
That would not of any princess you provide,
Suffering you to run shooting from target to target,
Wasting your body, letting the time pass by.
For like a roaring bull you run and ride
Riotously, like a rude scoundrel,
Always fucking like a furious fornicator.

On whores you will not cease leaping,
Although the bitches cry out,
Remember how, beside the mashing vat,
You cast a wench across the stinking trough?
That fiend, with the jerking about of the back of her thigh,
Cast down the vat, resulting in the drink, dregs, and swill
Came rudely running down about your ears.

Would God the lady that loved you best
Had seen you there, wallowing like two swine!
But to indite how that slut was dressed
(Drenched with dregs, whimpering with many whines),
That to describe and report it were a pain.
On your behalf, I thank God times ten score
That you were preserved from gout and syphilis.

Now sir, farewell, because I cannot scold,
And though I could, I would not advance
Against your ornate meter to indite.
But yet be wary with the labouring of your lance:
Some say there comes a shield out of France,
Which will endure your strokes, though they be hard.
Farewell, of flowing rhetoric the flower!

Said Lindsay in his scolding
Against the King’s writing.

 

Notes:
Cor munum crea in me is from Psalm 50 and translates as “create in me a clean heart”.

This poem is full of sexual innuendo with only the very obvious innuendos translating easily. One innuendo that is probably very unclear is “mouth thankless” which is a reference to a vagina.

Some of the terms Lindsay has used to describe the women the king (James V of Scotland) was enjoying are of unclear and debated meaning, although the derogatory nature of them is clear. I have therefore used modern terms (like whores and bitches) in their stead.

A mashing vat was used in the creation of ales and beers.

At the time Lindsay was writing, gout was used as a term for a venereal disease. Syphilis was known to be a venereal disease and was considered separate to whatever disease was referred to as gout.

And, finally, as with all my attempts at putting very old English/Scots into a modern version, I have resisted the temptation to use less archaic words when the original word is still in use and have tried to retain the original syntax as much as possible even when a reordering or change of the words would improve the flow. I also resisted keeping “flyting” (and “dyting”) and used more modern equivalents even though some of the nuance was lost. I used the online Dictionaries of the Scots Language (https://dsl.ac.uk/) to confirm original word meanings.

From: https://d.lib.rochester.edu/teams/text/purdie-and-wingfield-answer-quhilk-schir-david-lindesay-maid-to-kingis-flyting

Date: c1536

By: David Lyndsay (c1490-c1555)

Saturday, 17 September 2022

Exiled from Mona by Goronwy Owen

May God in Heaven be my tower,
For outcast of man am I;
By hope forsaken and power,
Poor and in misery.
Dear Mona of my fathers,
Alas for my lonely lot,
Where once I played there gathers
A people that know me not.
Where I had friends an hundred,
Scarce one would be taking the hand
Of a noteless bard far sundered
From Mona’s lovely strand.
Her bold old tongue ne’er greets me,
Stilled is her wild sweet strain,
And when their memory meets me
My pulse is athrill with pain.
And O! I am so breast-stricken,
So heart-full of sorrow sharp,
Bright song no longer can quicken
One chord of joy on my harp.
Yet as I to Zion resemble
Our Mona, my Muse takes wings,
And my hands once more are a-tremble
Through all of its sighing strings.

From: Graves, Alfred Perceval, Welsh Poetry Old and New, in English Verse, 1912, Longmans, Green, and Co: London and New York, p. 49.
(https://archive.org/details/welshpoetryoldne00graviala/page/48/mode/2up?q=goronwy)

Date: 1754 (original in Welsh); 1912 (translation in English)

By: Goronwy Owen (1723-1769)

Translated by: Alfred Perceval Graves (1846-1931)

Wednesday, 14 September 2022

Ballad of the Country Exile by Max Jacob

The farmers call me by name on the roads
as they might tell a skylark from a thrush
but they know the names of the animals better
than mine, for my name is Dolor.

If that which I love weighs upon my wound, it pains it;
if it weigh only upon summer, it is the field that suffers.

What will feed summer and my love if not that sorrow,
since my love and summer can no longer feed on joy?

The swan disappears in the slant of branches,
and the naked muses take me in their arms;
the winged horse contains my passion
and the wild flowers spread for me.

From: Jacob, Max, “Ballad of the Country Exile” in Poetry, Volume 76 Issue 2, May 1950, p. 85.
(https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/browse?volume=76&issue=2&page=23)

Date: 1939 (original in French); 1950 (translation in English)

By: Max Jacob (1876-1944)

Translated by Harvey Shapiro (1924-2013)

Wednesday, 7 September 2022

Reconciliation by Else Lasker-Schüler

(To My Mother)

A great star will fall into my lap. . .
We would hold vigil tonight,

Praying in languages
That are carven like harps.

We would be reconciled tonight—
So fully God overwhelms us.

Our hearts are only children,
Eager for weary-sweet slumber.

And our lips would kiss each other,
Why are you fearful?

Does not your heart border upon mine—
Your blood always dyes my cheeks red.

We would be reconciled tonight,
If we clasp each other, we shall not perish.

A great star will fall into my lap.

From: https://poets.org/poem/reconciliation

Date: 1911 (original in German); 1923 (translation in English)

By: Else Lasker-Schüler (1869-1945)

Translated by: Babette Deutsch (1895-1982) and Avrahm Yarmolinsky (1890-1975)

Saturday, 27 August 2022

Waiting for ’97 and Godot by Yam Gong (Lau Yee-ching)

The torment
of a drop of water
falling into a lake
I know—
at times I am the drop of water
at times
I am the lake

The torment
of a drop of water
falling onto the parched earth
I also know
At times I am
the parched earth
At times
I am
that droplet

But what about the joy
of a drop of water
falling onto the parched earth?

What about the ecstasy
of a drop of water
falling into the lake?

Even though
at times I am the water
at times I am the earth
at times I am the rivers and lakes
at times ecstatic at times tormented at times joyful
at times
I persuade myself
that you
will arrive eventually.

From: https://www.catranslation.org/journal-post/two-poems-yam-gong/

Date: 1997 (original in Chinese); 2021 (translation in English)

By: Yam Gong (Lau Yee-ching) (1949- )

Translated by: James Shea (19??- ) and Dorothy Tse (1977- )