Translation (A poem)

  • At the risk of unveiling a rough draft, here's the first run at a poem I've been working on to get at the usefulness but inadequacies of translation.

    Frank criticism welcomed! (Talking to you JJElbert ;) )


    A translation makes us

    Believe we can

    Comprehend a language

    Distant in time,

    Evocative, nuanced,

    Foreign, strange, new.

    Giving us words to read

    Holds before us

    Imperfect reflections.

    Just consider,

    Kings and peasants would speak

    Living Latin.

    Melodic Greeks sang, but,

    Now, we must trust

    One translator's choices.

    Pursue connotations!

    Question their decisions!

    Read carefully!

    Sense something deeper and.

    Treasures await!

    Uncover mosaics,

    Varied colors

    Waiting discovery like

    Xenos: stranger.

    Yet also visitor.

    Zeroing in

    Yields riches unforseen.

    Xenos: serve guests

    With hospitality.

    Vow to dig in!

    Upset preconceptions,

    Tempted to start

    Seeing complexities.

    Read beneath lines,

    Questioning the choices

    Presented there.

    One word fixed on the page

    Now expanding its sense

    Makes you appreciate

    Language becoming yours.

    Keep comparing translations,

    Juxtapose and compare.

    Increasing understanding.

    Hold decisions in check.

    Good enough is not sufficient.

    Flowing words fill us

    Evoking

    Delight,

    Comprehend

    Beyond

    A translation.

    Edited once, last by Don: Editing and revising on the fly. Trying to do a 4/6 repeating syllable structure, upsetting it near the end to imply expanding understanding. Maybe it'll work, maybe not ;-) ().

  • Quote

    Looks like our resident poet JJElbert must be taking a sabbatical!

    Don't go putting all my stuff in the yard just yet ^^


    Don, I see you're getting well-acquainted with the particular difficulties of short lines! Let me sit with it a bit, I'll try to circle back.

  • The prodigal surveyor has returned just as we were talking a lot about boundary-stones. We will halt the eviction proceedings!

    Remember, prodigal means "spending money or resources freely and recklessly; wastefully extravagant." That doesn't sound like our friend, JJElbert ... And what are doing, using Biblical allusions anyway, Cassius ;)

  • Well whenever I think about "evicting" someone I think about the Biblicists I'd like to evict from "our" homeland of Italy and Greece, so I guess that's why I associate the terms together ;)

  • Don, I see you're getting well-acquainted with the particular difficulties of short lines!

    You bet!! ^^

    I still think the topic of the poem has merit, but I'm wondering if I need another structure... although I liked the abcedarian approach for the language aspect.

  • Quote

    I still think the topic of the poem has merit, but I'm wondering if I need another structure...

    Well, I can offer my...erm...tongue-in-cheek submission 😋

    ___________________________

    Note; on the Translator


    Good friend beware

    this slack apparel;

    It once wore well

    But no more does;


    The wine is old,

    But not the bottle–

    T'will serve, but is

    Not what it was.


    There's use within

    A cooper's barrel,

    But beauty more

    In ash and oak–


    The poet's verse

    Was fine and subtle—

    The translator's

    Is rancid yolk!

  • Paian Anax! That is impressive!

    It seems I serve better as a Calliope to JJElbert 's Lucretius than a poet myself ^^


    My only observation is that last word "yolk". You paint such a vivid picture with the barrels and wine that to end on an egg seems out of place. I was thinking the near rhyme "sack" but I don't think it's near enough. Oaks and Hoax?


    ...

    In ash and oaks.


    The poet's verse

    Was fine and subtle—

    The translator's,

    A rancid hoax.


    Joke?

    The translator's,

    a rancid joke?


    Switch "oak and ash" then

    The poet's verse

    Was fine and subtle—

    The translator

    Makes sour mash.


    Just suggestions. You are sincerely an inspiration!!

  • You're spot on Don, the last line gave me by far the greatest struggle.


    My original wording was:

    The poet's verse

    Was fine and subtle—

    The translator's,

    A f***ing joke!

    I then switched "ash and oak" and rhymed it 'trash'...


    I'll keep 'tinkering', as you like to say ;)

  • That's the issue I'm running into to convey.

    Translation can be a very useful tool but it can also be a mask or facade or pale distorted reflection.

  • I really like than near rhyme which, to me, approximates the "almost but not quite" relation of the translation to its original source.