Archive for ‘Translation’

Thursday, 23 June 2022

The Road North by Zbigniew Machej

We were driving north, to the sea,
through a land of dry lips and useless sweat.
All around were empty fields. Forests burned.
The sun stripped the ashen riverbeds,
the stones on the bottom white like bones.
Our hands stuck to the steering wheel, tar
to the car’s tires. The wrinkled air
throbbed with heat. Ahead and behind
the horizon blurred. On the radio
just news, ads, and songs
by Michael Jackson. By now almost everywhere
democracy had triumphed, but no one was
happy. The great furnaces had gone out.
Tankers brought water to the cities. Gas
had gone up again. Courage, of course, cost the same.
The authorities were patiently questioning
citizens. Doctors had discovered new, mysterious
infections. The bazaars were hopping, corruption
blossomed, there was an increase in assaults with a deadly
weapon, people told tales of the games
the mafia played. Olympic champions
were eliminated in the first round. In the stadiums
new messiahs worked cures, crowds sang.
Peasant prophecies of the world’s end
spread, not just among tourists.
The idolatry of computers compacted
with the superstition of satellite disks. Black icons
wept red tears and mice
fed on the epidermis of the faithful
who miaowed in the churches a miaow
of their own which wearied their God…

We were driving north.
And in the south the wars went on,
states fell apart…

When we got to the sea,
a hundred sailboats under a cloudless sky
sailed into the bay and from the forest onto the shore
the wild boar came
to lap, lap, lap
the salt water.


Date: 1992 (original in Polish); 2003 (translation in English)

By: Zbigniew Machej (1958- )

Translated by: Georgia Scott (19??- ) and David Malcolm (1952- )

Monday, 30 May 2022

Rows and Rows of Rain Clouds (Yirra, Kuji, Yirra, Karti Ngayirrmani) by Yintilypirna Kaalyamarra

Cloudbank, rain, cloudbank,
row upon row of them.
The big upper-layer clouds are rising.
As a result of the host of little clouds
multiplying the country is heating up.

In the constant thunder it talks,
telling us it’s coming.
The downpour is drenching the countryside.
In the open country the raindrops are causing a soft
roaring sound,
as the swathe of the downpour passes.

Lightning is striking at the front,
the storm is causing the dust to swirl around.
Sudden silence! Splashing of falling raindrops.
Karnkulypangu* was the cause of this!

Yirra, Kuji, Yirra, Karti Ngayirrmani

Yirra, kuji, yirra, karti ngayirrmani.
Purntura ngarra maninyu.
Kapalya kurru marnanyurulu
ngurra parlangkarna-parlangkarna kamarnu.

Ngurntika wangka yulayinyu.
Ngurra kunti marnu ngurlungkangulu.
Parlkarranguraya kuji muurrkarra, jinyjirrarangka.

Ngari para pungarnu,
kurlurlu karti ngampurrjarli marnu ngurntijartulu.
Jamukarra! Warlpa warninyu.

*Rain was Karnukulypangu’s kalyartu (totem); he was therefore in charge of its increase, and so is considered to be the one responsible for this downpour. This song was composed in Ngarla, an Indigenous Aboriginal language spoken in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

From: Kinsella, John and Ryan, Tracy (eds.), The Fremantle Press Anthology of Western Australian Poetry, 2017, Fremantle Press: Fremantle, WA, pp. [unnumbered].

Date: 2003 (published)

By: Yintilypirna Kaalyamarra (????-c1940)

Translation by: Brian Geytenbeek (1933- )

Friday, 13 May 2022

Better Brown than Blonde by Elisabeth Koolart-Hoofman

Don’t ever change your colour, fair brunettes,
For lighter hue or blonder tress.
The rose looks pale beside dark violets
And white grapes never equal reds.
How can scent of blooms soon gone
Rival ripe morellos?
Does the proud brown oak not throne
High above white willows?
Unlike others I’ll praise brown
Rather than light yellows;
What Nature aims to clothe in loveliness,
She gives a darker hood or dress.
So never change your colour, fair brunettes,
For lighter hue or blonder tress.

From: van Gemert, Lia; Joldersma, Hermina; van Marion, Olga; van der Poel, Dieuwke; and Schenkeveld-van der Dussen, Riet (eds.), Women’s Writing from the Low Countries 1200-1875: A Bilingual Anthology, 2010, Amsterdam University Press: Amsterdam, p. 347.

Date: 1774 (published) (original in Dutch); 2010 (translation in English)

By: Elisabeth Koolart-Hoofman (1664-1736)

Translated by: Myra Heerspink Scholz (1944- )

Monday, 11 April 2022

The Flowers by Stéphane Mallarmé

From golden showers of the ancient skies,
On the first day, and the eternal snow of stars,
You once unfastened giant calyxes
For the young earth still innocent of scars:

Young gladioli with the necks of swans,
Laurels divine, of exiled souls the dream,
Vermilion as the modesty of dawns
Trod by the footsteps of the seraphim;

The hyacinth, the myrtle gleaming bright,
And, like the flesh of woman, the cruel rose,
Hérodiade blooming in the garden light,
She that from wild and radiant blood arose!

And made the sobbing whiteness of the lily
That skims a sea of sighs, and as it wends
Through the blue incense of horizons, palely
Toward the weeping moon in dreams ascends!

Hosanna on the lute and in the censers,
Lady, and of our purgatorial groves!
Through heavenly evenings let the echoes answer,
Sparkling haloes, glances of rapturous love!

Mother, who in your strong and righteous bosom,
Formed calyxes balancing the future flask,
Capacious flowers with the deadly balsam
For the weary poet withering on the husk.


Date: 1887 (original in French); 1994 (translation in English)

By: Stéphane Mallarmé (1842-1898)

Translated by: Henry Weinfield (19??- )

Sunday, 10 April 2022

[Overflowing with Love] by Shiimoto Saimaro

Overflowing with love
the cat as coquettish
as a courtesan.

From: Addiss, Stephen; Yamamoto, Fumiko; and Yamamoto, Akira (eds. and transls.), Haiku: An Anthology of Japanese Poems, 2009, Shambhala Library: Boston, p. 7.

Date: c1730 (original in Japanese); 2009 (translation in English)

By: Shiimoto Saimaro (1656-1737)

Translated by: Stephen Addiss (1935- ), Fumiko Yamamoto (1934- ) and Akira Yamamoto (19??- )

Sunday, 3 April 2022

[The Midnight Moon] by Yasuhara Teishitsu

the midnight moon—
almost like a big chunk
of coolness.


Date: c1670 (original in Japanese); 2007 (translation in English)

By: Yasuhara Teishitsu (1610-1673)

Translated by: Gabi Greve (1948- )

Thursday, 3 March 2022

Scolium (Drinking Song) by Callistratus

With myrtle I shade my falchion-blade
Like Aristogiton* of old
And his patriot comrade bold,
When they made the tyrant bleed
And Athens from thraldom freed.

Harmodius, our pride, thou hast not died!
In the islands of the blest
In eternal peace and rest
With Achilles and Tydeus’ son
Thou dwellest, beloved one!

With myrtle I shade my falchion-blade
Like Aristogiton of old
And his patriot comrade bold,
When Athene’s day beheld
How the tyrant’s might they quell’d.

Harmodius, lays of your country’s praise
For a crown of glory shall be
To Aristogiton and thee;
For ye made the tyrant bleed
And Athens from thraldom freed.

*Harmodius and Aristogiton (or Aristogeiton) were Athenian lovers, known as the Tyrannicides and the Liberators, who, in 514 BCE, assassinated Hipparchus and tried to assassinate the tyrant Hippias with daggers hidden in ceremonial myrtle wreaths used at the Panatheniac Games. Harmodius was killed in the attempt and Aristogiton was arrested. Aristogiton was possibly tortured to give up the names of the other conspirators involved in the attempt before he too was killed. The pair came to be considered as martyrs of Athenian freedom.

From: Demosthenes and Kennedy, Charles Rann (ed. and transl.), The Orations of Demosthenes Against Leptines, Midias, Androtion, and Aristocrates, 1856, Henry G. Bohn: London, p. 269.

Date: c500 BCE (original in Greek); 1856 (translation in English)

By: Callistratus (fl. c500 BCE)

Translated by: Charles Rann Kennedy (1808-1867)

Tuesday, 1 March 2022

The Black Spot by Hedd Wynn (Ellis Humphrey Evans)

We have no right to the stars,
Nor the homesick moon,
Nor the clouds edged with gold
In the centre of the long blueness.

We have no right to anything
But the old and withered earth
That is all in chaos
At the centre of God’s glory.


Date: 1917 (original in Welsh); 2004 (translation in English)

By: Hedd Wynn (Ellis Humphrey Evans) (1887-1917)

Translated by: Jim Finnis (19??- )

Monday, 28 February 2022

Anger by Max Sessner

I want to be someone else a
yellow midday spreads itself out
all the way into my pocket
where coins clink and my
fist lives with which today I
would like to hit someone
in the face but that will subside
in the evening the hand of a
strange poet opens by itself
then lies in front of me and
I lay the television
remote in it which it
clearly likes because suddenly
we are friends have already lived
on the same bank of the river
a very long time


Date: 2019 (original in German); 2021 (translation in English)

By: Max Sessner (1959- )

Translated by: Francesca Bell (19??- )

Saturday, 12 February 2022

Sunflower by André Robert Breton

for Perre Reverdy

The traveller who crossed Les Halles at summer’s end
Walked on tiptoe
Despair rolled its great handsome lilies across the sky
And in her handbag was my dream that flask of salts
That only God’s godmother had breathed
Torpors unfurled like mist
At the Chien qui Fume
Where pro and con had just entered
They chould hardly see the young woman and then only at an angle
Was I dealing with the ambassadress of saltpeter
Or with the white curve on black background we call thought
The Innocents’ Ball was in full swing
The Chinese lanterns slowly caught fire in chestnut trees
The shadowless lady knelt on the Pont-au-Change
On Rue Gît-le-Coeur the stamps had changed
The night’s promises had been kept at last
The carrier pigeons and emergency kisses
Merged with the beautiful stranger’s breasts
Jutting beneath the crepe of perfect meanings
A farm prospered in the heart of Paris
And its windows looked out on the Milky Way
But no one was lived there yet because of the guests
Guests who are known to be more faithful than ghosts
Some like that woman appear to be swimming
And a bit of their substance becomes part of love
She internalizes them
I am the plaything of no sensory power
And yet the cricket who sang in hair of ash
One evening near the statue of Etienne Marcel
Threw me a knowing glance
André Breton it said pass

26 August 1923

From: Breton, André and Polizzotti, Mark (ed. and transl.), André Breton: Selections, 2003, University of California Press: Berkeley, pp. 71-72.

Date: 1923 (original in French); 2003 (translation in English)

By: André Robert Breton (1896-1966)

Translated by: Mark Polizzotti (1957- )