spiralsheep: Woman blowing heart-shaped bubbles (Bubble Rainbow)

African and Asian poets, and English translations

The Poetry Translation Centre, dedicated to translating works by African and Asian and Latin American poets into English (while further publishing the poems in their original language/script alongside), has launched a book to celebrate a decade of translations. This book, published by Bloodaxe, is just short of 400 pages and contains 111 poems by 45 poets in 23 languages (from Arabic to Zapotec). All the poems are presented in their original languages/scripts first and then in an English translation made through the collaboration of literal translators with respected English poets. It’s been sponsored by various worthy organisations and has a cover price of only £12. Bloodaxe are also intending to publish collections by some of the individual poets in the coming years.

My Voice page at Bloodaxe Books.

(1) Literary event in London with multilingual readings and discussions and (2) the official book launch in London with multilingual readings and discussions. I’ve been lucky enough to hear Al-Saddiq Al-Raddi from Sudan reading intensely in Arabic (modern standard, obv) and Reza Mohammadi from Afghanistan reading lyrically in Persian (Dari, amongst other dialects), and to listen to them both discussing poetry and translation in English, and I wholeheartedly recommend the experience.

The title of the book is taken from a poem by Partaw Naderi, translated as "My Voice".

My Voice by Partaw Naderi (written in Kabul, December, 1989)

I come from a distant land

with a foreign knapsack on my back

with a silenced song on my lips

As I travelled down the river of my life

I saw my voice

(like Jonah)

swallowed by a whale

And my very life lived in my voice

The Persian/Dari original poem. The literal translation is by Yama Yari and the poetic translation by Sarah Maguire.

There are many other poems freely available on the Poetry Translation Centre website. Enjoy!
hagar_972: "It's the way I feel that changes/These are the colours of the sun." (Colours of the Sun)
[personal profile] hagar_9722013-11-03 08:38 pm

הכניסי תחת כנפך/ביאליק | Under Your Wing/Bialik | Приюти меня под крылышком

The poem Hachnisini tachat k'nefech ("Bring me under your wing", female addressee) is one of the better-known poems by Haim Nachman Bialik, an early Hebrew poet often considered Israel's national poet. (I cannot in good conscious fully get behind this title, because we had no-less-good ones after him, as seminal as Bialik's corpus is.) One of the primary reasons that Hachnisini is so well-enough is that it's been set to music a dozen-plus times and recorded about a gazillion; suffice to say, it's popular enough that musical reality shows contestants will pick it for their auditions. (I'm partial to Nechama Hendel's version from the 1950s, which tune - like so many Israeli songs - is ripped off Eastern European folk melodies; the best-known one is arguably Arik Einstein's from the 1980s. It's also worth noting that the tradition of setting poetry to music is primarily associated with Israeli-Hebrew rock, not folk.)

The poem is brought below in Hebrew, with translations into English and Russian. These translations were rendered in by Ze'ev Jabotinsky (born Vladimir Yevgenyevich Zhabotinsky). Jabotinsky was himself a complex figure, best known as a political leader and visionary. The Russian translation is earlier, and was published in 1916 as part of an anthology of Russian-translated Hebrew poetry. The English translation is later, presumably 1920s, and was given as a gift to Ronald Storrs, then the British Military Governor of Palestine.

I cannot evaluate the Russian translation as I do not speak or read the language, but the English translation is exquisite. The translations and their background were found via this blog post (in Hebrew).

Приюти меня под крылышком,
Будь мне мамой и сестрой,
На груди твоей разбитые
Сны-мечты мои укрой.

Наклонись тихонько в сумерки,
Буду жаловаться я:
Говорят, есть в мире молодость –
Где же молодость моя?

И ещё поверю шёпотом:
И во мне горела кровь;
Говорят, любовь нам велена –
Где и что она, любовь?

Звёзды лгали; сон пригрезился –
И не стало и его;
Ничего мне не осталося,

Приюти меня под крылышком,
Будь мне мамой и сестрой,
На груди твоей разбитые
Сны-мечты мои укрой…
jjhunter: Drawing of human JJ in ink tinted with blue watercolor; woman wearing glasses with arched eyebrows (JJ inked)
[personal profile] jjhunter2013-07-12 07:05 am

Looking for original language texts

I'm posting some favorite poems-in-translation this week to the comm [community profile] poetry, and would love some help tracking down the original language texts to include with the English translations. Does anyone know where I could find the original texts for the following poems? (Links, when included, go to the relevant posts to be edited at [community profile] poetry.)
spiralsheep: Ladies Sewing Circle and Terrorist Society (Sewing Circle Terrorist Society)

Two poems for National Poetry Day (UK)

I posted two poems for the UK's National Poetry Day at my journal. The first is Pia Tafdrup's poem for Norway, in Danish with an English translation. The second is a humorous piece about linguistic and cultural translations written by a Scottish poet about the English and the French, and using both languages.

Możliwości | Wisława Szymborska

translated by Stanisław Barańcza, Clare Cavanagh


Wolę kino.
Wolę koty.
Wolę dęby nad Wartą.
Wolę Dickensa od Dostojewskiego.
Wolę siebie lubiącą ludzi
niż siebie kochającą ludzkość.
Wolę mieć w pogotowiu igłę z nitką.
Wolę kolor zielony.
Wolę nie twierdzić,
że rozum jest wszystkiemu winien.
Wolę wyjątki.
Wolę wychodzić wcześniej.
Wolę rozmawiać z lekarzami o czymś innym.
Wolę stare ilustracje w prążki.
Wolę śmieszność pisania wierszy
od śmieszności ich niepisania.
Wolę w miłości rocznice nieokrągłe,
do obchodzenia na co dzień.
Wolę moralistów,
którzy nie obiecują mi nic.
Wolę dobroć przebiegłą od łatwowiernej za bardzo.
Wolę ziemię w cywilu.
Wolę kraje podbite niż podbijające.
Wolę mieć zastrzeżenia.
Wolę piekło chaosu od piekła porządku.
Wolę bajki Grimma od pierwszych stron gazet.
Wolę liście bez kwiatów niż kwiaty bez liści.
Wolę psy z ogonem nie przyciętym.
Wolę oczy jasne, ponieważ mam ciemne.
Wolę szuflady.
Wolę wiele rzeczy, których tu nie wymieniłam,
od wielu również tu nie wymienionych.
Wolę zera luzem
niż ustawione w kolejce do cyfry.
Wolę czas owadzi od gwiezdnego.
Wolę odpukać.
Wolę nie pytać jak długo jeszcze i kiedy.
Wolę brać pod uwagę nawet tę możliwość,
że byt ma swoją rację.


I prefer movies.
I prefer cats.
I prefer the oaks along the Warta.
I prefer Dickens to Dostoyevsky.
I prefer myself liking people
to myself loving mankind.
I prefer keeping a needle and thread on hand, just in case.
I prefer the color green.
I prefer not to maintain
that reason is to blame for everything.
I prefer exceptions.
I prefer to leave early.
I prefer talking to doctors about something else.
I prefer the old fine-lined illustrations.
I prefer the absurdity of writing poems
to the absurdity of not writing poems.
I prefer, where love's concerned, nonspecific anniversaries
that can be celebrated every day.
I prefer moralists
who promise me nothing.
I prefer cunning kindness to the over-trustful kind.
I prefer the earth in civvies.
I prefer conquered to conquering countries.
I prefer having some reservations.
I prefer the hell of chaos to the hell of order.
I prefer Grimms' fairy tales to the newspapers' front pages.
I prefer leaves without flowers to flowers without leaves.
I prefer dogs with uncropped tails.
I prefer light eyes, since mine are dark.
I prefer desk drawers.
I prefer many things that I haven't mentioned here
to many things I've also left unsaid.
I prefer zeroes on the loose
to those lined up behind a cipher.
I prefer the time of insects to the time of stars.
I prefer to knock on wood.
I prefer not to ask how much longer and when.
I prefer keeping in mind even the possibility
that existence has its own reason for being.
spiralsheep: Reality is a dangerous concept (babel Blake Reality Dangerous Concept)

Hill Speak by Zaffar Kunial

A poem about language, scripts, and translations, offered without translation, because I thought some of you would appreciate it.

Hill Speak by Zaffar Kunial
There is no dictionary for my father’s language. )

ein yahav | yehuda amichai

translated by A.Z. Foreman

נסיעה לילית לעין יהב בערבה
נסיעה בגשם. כן בגשם.
שם פגשתי אנשים שמגדלים תמרים.
שם ראיתי עצי אשל ועצי אשליה.
שם ראיתי תקוה דוקרנית כמו תיל דוקרני
ואמרתי בלבי: אמת, התקוה צריכה להיות
כמו תיל כדי להגן עלינו מן היאוש.
התקוה צריכה להיות שדה מוקשים

A night drive to Ein Yahav in the Arabah.
A drive in the rain. Yes, in the rain.
There, I met people who grow date palms.
There, I saw great tamarisk trees and great risk trees
There, I saw hope barbed like barbed wire
And I said to myself: It is the truth. Hope must be
Like barbed wire to keep out our despair.
Hope must be a minefield.

ekla chalo re | rabindranath tagore

যদি তোর ডাক শুনে কেউ না আসে তবে একলা চলো রে।
একলা চলো, একলা চলো, একলা চলো, একলা চলো রে॥
যদি কেউ কথা না কয়, ওরে ওরে ও অভাগা,
যদি সবাই থাকে মুখ ফিরায়ে সবাই করে ভয়—
তবে পরান খুলে
ও তুই মুখ ফুটে তোর মনের কথা একলা বলো রে॥
যদি সবাই ফিরে যায়, ওরে ওরে ও অভাগা,
যদি গহন পথে যাবার কালে কেউ ফিরে না চায়—
তবে পথের কাঁটা
ও তুই রক্তমাখা চরণতলে একলা দলো রে॥
যদি আলো না ধরে, ওরে ওরে ও অভাগা,
যদি ঝড়-বাদলে আঁধার রাতে দুয়ার দেয় ঘরে—
তবে বজ্রানলে
আপন বুকের পাঁজর জ্বালিয়ে নিয়ে একলা জ্বলো রে॥
Jodi tor đak shune keu na ashe tôbe êkla chôlo re,
Êkla chôlo, êkla chôlo, êkla chôlo, êkla chôlo re.
Jodi keu kôtha na kôe, ore ore o ôbhaga,
Jodi shôbai thake mukh firaee shôbai kôre bhôe—
Tôbe pôran khule
O tui mukh fuţe tor moner kôtha êkla bôlo re.
Jodi shôbai fire jae, ore ore o ôbhaga,
Jodi gôhon pôthe jabar kale keu fire na chae—
Tôbe pôther kãţa
O tui rôktomakha chôrontôle êkla dôlo re.
Jodi alo na dhôre, ore ore o ôbhaga,
Jodi jhôŗ-badole ãdhar rate duar dêe ghôre—
Tôbe bojranôle
Apon buker pãjor jalie nie êkla jôlo re.
If they answer not to thy call walk alone,
If they are afraid and cower mutely facing the wall,
O thou unlucky one,
open thy mind and speak out alone.

If they turn away, and desert you when crossing the wilderness,
O thou unlucky one,
trample the thorns under thy tread,
and along the blood-lined track travel alone.

If they do not hold up the light when the night is troubled with storm,
O thou unlucky one,
with the thunder flame of pain ignite thy own heart
and let it burn alone.

Rozmowa z kamieniem | Wisława Szymborska

translated by Stanisław Baranczak, Clare Cavanagh

Rozmowa z kamieniem

Pukam do drzwi kamienia.
- To ja, wpuść mnie.
Chcę wejść do twego wnętrza,
rozejrzeć się dokoła,
nabrać ciebie jak tchu.

- Odejdź - mówi kamień. -
Jestem szczelnie zamknięty.
Nawet rozbite na częsci
będziemy szczelnie zamknięte.
Nawet starte na piasek
nie wpuścimy nikogo.

Pukam do drzwi kamienia.
- To ja, wpuść mnie.
Przychodzę z ciekawości czystej.
Życie jest dla niej jedyną okazją.
Zamierzam przejść się po twoim pałacu,
a potem jeszcze zwiedzić liść i krople wody.
Niewiele czasu na to wszystko mam.
Moja śmiertelność powinna Cię wzruszyć.

- Jestem z kamienia - mówi kamień -
i z konieczności muszę zachować powagę.
Odejdź stąd.
Nie mam mięśni śmiechu.

Pukam do drzwi kamienia.
- To ja, wpuść mnie.
Słyszałam że są w tobie wielkie puste sale,
nie oglądane, piękne nadaremnie,
gluche, bez echa czyichkolwiek kroków.
Przyznaj, że sam niedużo o tym wiesz.

- Wielkie i puste sale - mówi kamień -
ale w nich miejsca nie ma.
Piękne, być może, ale poza gustem
twoich ubogich zmysłów.
Możesz mnie poznać, nie zaznasz mnie nigdy.
Całą powierzchnią zwracam się ku tobie,
a całym wnętrzem leżę odwrócony.

Pukam do drzwi kamienia.
- To ja, wpuść mnie.
Nie szukam w tobie przytułku na wieczność.
Nie jestem nieszczęśliwa.
Nie jestem bezdomna.
Mój świat jest wart powrotu.
Wejdę i wyjdę z pustymi rękami.
A na dowód, że byłam prawdziwie obecna,
nie przedstawię niczego prócz słów,
którym nikt nie da wiary.

- Nie wejdziesz - mówi kamień. -
Brak ci zmysłu udziału.
Nawet wzrok wyostrzony aż do wszechwidzenia
nie przyda ci się na nic bez zmysłu udziału.
Nie wejdziesz, masz zaledwie zamysł tego zmysłu,
ledwie jego zawiązek, wyobraźnię.

Pukam do drzwi kamienia.
- To ja, wpuść mnie.
Nie mogę czekać dwóch tysięcy wieków
na wejście pod twój dach.

- Jeżeli mi nie wierzysz - mówi kamień -
zwróć się do liścia, powie to, co ja.
Do kropli wody, powie to, co liść.
Na koniec spytaj włosa z własnej głowy.
Śmiech mnie rozpiera, śmiech, olbrzymi śmiech,
którym śmiac się nie umiem.

Pukam do drzwi kamienia.
- To ja, wpuść mnie.

- Nie mam drzwi - mówi kamień

Conversation with a Stone

I knock at the stone's front door.
"It's only me, let me come in.
I want to enter your insides,
have a look round,
breathe my fill of you."

"Go away," says the stone.
"I'm shut tight.
Even if you break me to pieces,
we'll all still be closed.
You can grind us to sand,
we still won't let you in."

I knock at the stone's front door.
"It's only me, let me come in.
I've come out of pure curiosity.
Only life can quench it.
I mean to stroll through your palace,
then go calling on a leaf, a drop of water.
I don't have much time.
My mortality should touch you."

"I'm made of stone," says the stone,
"and must therefore keep a straight face.
Go away.
I don't have the muscles to laugh."

I knock at the stone's front door.
"It's only me, let me come in.
I hear you have great empty halls inside you,
unseen, their beauty in vain,
soundless, not echoing anyone's steps.
Admit you don't know them well yourself."

"Great and empty, true enough," says the stone,
"but there isn't any room.
Beautiful, perhaps, but not to the taste
of your poor senses.
You may get to know me, but you'll never know me through.
My whole surface is turned toward you,
all my insides turned away."

I knock at the stone's front door.
"It's only me, let me come in.
I don't seek refuge for eternity.
I'm not unhappy.
I'm not homeless.
My world is worth returning to.
I'll enter and exit empty-handed.

And my proof I was there
will be only words,
which no one will believe."

"You shall not enter," says the stone.
"You lack the sense of taking part.
No other sense can make up for your missing sense of taking part.
Even sight heightened to become all-seeing
will do you no good without a sense of taking part.
You shall not enter, you have only a sense of what that sense should be,
only its seed, imagination."

I knock at the stone's front door.
"It's only me, let me come in.
I haven't got two thousand centuries,
so let me come under your roof."

"If you don't believe me," says the stone,
"just ask the leaf, it will tell you the same.
Ask a drop of water, it will say what the leaf has said.
And, finally, ask a hair from your own head.
I am bursting with laughter, yes, laughter, vast laughter,
although I don't know how to laugh."

I knock at the stone's front door.
"It's only me, let me come in."

"I don't have a door," says the stone.

Marathi poem by Bablu Vadaar

This is one of those rare forwards that my relatives send me which I am actually posting instead of summarily deleting. Hopefully one of these days I will have the brainpower to attempt a translation; as it stands I am too tired to provide a transliteration right now, sorry.

Out dated झालंय आयुष्य
स्वप्नही download होत नाही
संवेदनांना 'virus' लागलाय
दु:खं send करता येत नाही

जुने पावसाळे उडून गेलेत
delete झालेल्या file सारखे
अन घर आता शांत असतं
range नसलेया mobile सारखे

hang झालेल्या PC सारखी
मातीची स्थिती वाईट
जाती नाती जोडणारी
कुठेच नाही website

एकविसाव्या शतकातली
पीढी भलतीच 'cute'
contact list वाढत गेली
संवाद झाले mute

computer च्या chip सारखा
माणूस मनानं खुजा झालाय
अन 'mother' नावाचा board,
त्याच्या आयुष्यातून वजा झालाय

floppy Disk Drive मध्ये
आता संस्कारांनाच जागा नाही
अन फाटली मनं सांधणारा
internet वर धागा नाही

विज्ञानाच्या गुलामगिरीत
केवढी मोठी चूक
रक्ताच्या नात्यांनाही
आता लागते facebook...

-- श्री बबलू वडार

ही कविता राज्यव्यापी शिक्षक साहित्य संमेलनासाठी, श्री बबलू वडार (शिक्षक -कोल्हापूर) यांनी लिहिली होती. कविता पठण स्पर्धेत त्यांना पहिला नंबर मिळाला.

(Wow - this is the first use of the language: marathi tag? I am shocked. Someone get some Tukaram in the house, stat.)
spiralsheep: Flowers (skywardprodigal Cog Flowers)

Poem, Dnia 16 maja 1973 roku by Wisława Szymborska

I saw this poem by Nobel Prize-winning poet Wisława Szymborska in translation on the (recently linked) [community profile] poetree com and thought I'd track down the Polish original because I've read two other translations and neither of them appealed to me at all but this one by Adam Czerniawski made me want to read more. More of her poems can be found, with English and Swedish translations, on the Nobel Prize website amongst many other places.

Dnia 16 maja 1973 roku

Jedna z tych wielu dat,
kóre nie mówią mi już nic.

Dokąd w tym dniu chodziłam.
co robiłam - nie wiem.

Gdyby w pobliżu popełniono zbrodnię
- nie miałabym alibi.

Słońce błysło i zgasło
poza moją uwagą.
Ziemia się obróciła
bez wzmianki w notesie.

The rest and an English translation. )

goodbye party for Ms. Pushpa T.S. | nissim ezekiel

our dear sister
is departing for foreign
in two three days,
we are meeting today
to wish her bon voyage.

You are all knowing, friends,
What sweetness is in Miss Pushpa.
I don't mean only external sweetness
but internal sweetness.
Miss Pushpa is smiling and smiling
even for no reason but simply because
she is feeling.

Miss Pushpa is coming
from very high family.
Her father was renowned advocate
in Bulsar or Surat,
I am not remembering now which place.

Surat? Ah, yes,
once only I stayed in Surat
with family members
of my uncle's very old friend-
his wife was cooking nicely…

that was long time ago.
Coming back to Miss Pushpa
she is most popular lady
with men also and ladies also.

Whenever I asked her to do anything,
she was saying, 'Just now only
I will do it.' That is showing
good spirit. I am always
appreciating the good spirit.

Pushpa Miss is never saying no.
Whatever I or anybody is asking
she is always saying yes,
and today she is going
to improve her prospect
and we are wishing her bon voyage.

Now I ask other speakers to speak
and afterwards Miss Pushpa
will do summing up.
lnhammer: lo-fi photo of a tall, thin man - caption: "some guy" (Default)
[personal profile] lnhammer2012-01-14 02:40 pm

A Song of Unending Sorrow by Bai Juyi

Historical background: late in the 40-odd year riegn of Tang Emperor Xuanzong, a Turkish-born general named An Lushan became a favorite of both the emperor and his beautiful concubine, Yang Guifei. As the result of political in-fighting with her cousin, the chancellor, An Lushan revolted in 755 and the next year captured the capital of Chang'an (in modern Shaanxi province). As the emperor fled over mountains to Sichuan, his guardsmen blamed the Yang family for the uprising and forced him to have Yang Guifei executed.

Needless to say, this is a Highly Romantic (and romaticized) event.

In 806, Bai Juyi wrote this poem about the affair. The translation below by Witter Bynner (1929) calls it "A Song of Unending Sorrow," but is more commonly known in English as "Song of Everlasting Regret."

China's Emperor, craving beauty that might shake an empire,
Was on the throne for many years, searching, never finding,
Till a little child of the Yang clan, hardly even grown,
Bred in an inner chamber, with no one knowing her,
But with graces granted by heaven and not to be concealed,
At last one day was chosen for the imperial household.
If she but turned her head and smiled, there were cast a hundred spells,
And the powder and paint of the Six Palaces faded into nothing.
...It was early spring. They bathed her in the FlowerPure Pool,
Which warmed and smoothed the creamy-tinted crystal of her skin,
And, because of her languor, a maid was lifting her
When first the Emperor noticed her and chose her for his bride.
The cloud of her hair, petal of her cheek, gold ripples of her crown when she moved,
Were sheltered on spring evenings by warm hibiscus curtains;
But nights of spring were short and the sun arose too soon,
And the Emperor, from that time forth, forsook his early hearings
And lavished all his time on her with feasts and revelry,
His mistress of the spring, his despot of the night.
There were other ladies in his court, three thousand of rare beauty,
But his favours to three thousand were concentered in one body.
By the time she was dressed in her Golden Chamber, it would be almost evening;
And when tables were cleared in the Tower of Jade, she would loiter, slow with wine.
Her sisters and her brothers all were given titles;
And, because she so illumined and glorified her clan,
She brought to every father, every mother through the empire,
Happiness when a girl was born rather than a boy.
...High rose Li Palace, entering blue clouds,
And far and wide the breezes carried magical notes
Of soft song and slow dance, of string and bamboo music.
The Emperor's eyes could never gaze on her enough--
Till war-drums, booming from Yuyang, shocked the whole earth )

Chinese text )

See also this line-by-line prose version from Wikimedia. Wengdu has a version with automatic dictionary lookups of the modern meaning of each character.

noldo: (Default)
[personal profile] noldo2012-01-10 07:43 pm

Nina Kibuanda, Des Mots/'Words'

Listen to this poem. Please. Do. Please. [audio at top of page]

french text )

english translation )

I have dropped a couple of particularly challenging puns, they are marked. Suggestions gratefully appreciated. [No, I cannot come up with a pithy rhyming translation of 'reubeu'!] [If you are curious, literal glosses of the lines respectively would be, 'Words in Hebrew like a [popular bit of verlan for 'Arab']', and 'Moldovan words, because they're the most serious'. Both of these seem to have been plays on sound foremost. Not sure how to do that in English.]