spiralsheep: Woman blowing heart-shaped bubbles (Bubble Rainbow)
[personal profile] spiralsheep
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!
noldo: (Default)
[personal profile] noldo
I apologise in advance for the transliteration.


من از نهایت شب حرف می زنم
من از نهایت تاریکی
و از نهایت شب حرف می زنم

اگر به خانه من آمدی
برای من ای مهربان چراغ بیار
و یک دریچه که از آن
به ازدحام کوچه ی خوشبخت بنگرم

transliteration )

I speak out of the deep of night.
Out of the deep of darkness,
and out of the deep of night I speak.

If you come to my house, friend:
bring me a lamp1, and a window through which I can look
at the crowd in the happy alley.

- trans. Ahmad Karimi Hakkak

1. I'm not messing with someone else's translation, but why leave out مهربان? I like that being there!
azuire: (Default)
[personal profile] azuire

نه من بيهوده گرد کوچه و بازار می گردم

مذاق عاشقی دارم پی ديدار ميگردم

خدايا رحم کن بر من پريشان وار می گردم

خطا کارم گناهکارم به حال زار می گردم

شراب شوق می نوشم به گرد يار می گرد

سخن مستانه می گويم ولی هوشيار می گردم


Na man behooda girde kocha
Wa bazaar megardam
Mazaj-e-ashiqee daram paye
dildar megardam

Khudaya rahm kon bar man
Pareeshan waar megardam

Khata karam gonahgaram
Ba hale zaar megardam

Sharabe showq menosham
Ba girde yaar megardam

Sukhan mastana megoyam
Walay hooshyaar megardam

Translation (Farah Aziz):

No I am not roaming aimlessly
around the streets and bazaar
I am a lover searching for his beloved

God have mercy on me
I am walking around troubled

I have done wrong and sinned
and am walking around wounded

I have drunk the wine of desire
and am strolling around beloved

Though I may seem drunk
I am quite sober

There is a Qawwali version of this as well, sung by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Part 1, and Part 2, on youtube.
yasaman: picture of woman wearing multi-colored headscarf that covers her mouth (yasaman; base by enriana)
[personal profile] yasaman
As difficult as I've found translation to be, I've never quite thought of it as harshly as the Italian saying in the subject line suggests: after learning of Daniel Ladinsky's "translations" of Hafez's poetry, I now begin to understand the sentiment.

So, my cousin is getting married this weekend, and she asked me to help her find an English translation along with the original Persian of a relevant poem about love or marriage. At the wedding, my father would read the Persian, and I'd read the English. I agreed, and told her to email me with her choices, and I'd do my best to match translation to original or vice versa. Today, she emailed me with what she thought was a translation of a poem by Hafez, and asked if I could source the original for my dad to read. Here's the poem she found:

"The Gift" by Daniel Ladinsky

Our union could be like this:
You feel cold
So I reach for a blanked to cover our shivering feet.
A hunger comes into your body
So I run to my garden and start digging potatoes.
You ask for a few words of comfort and guidance
I quickly kneel at your side offering you a whole book as a gift
You ache with loneliness one night so much
you weep, and I say
here is a rope, tie it around me
Hafiz will be your companion for life.

It's a nice little poem, but there's a problem: Hafez never wrote a poem like this. This supposed translation doesn't correspond to any of Hafez's original works, and the "translator" neither speaks nor reads Persian. I guessed that it was a at best loose translation with the use of the word "potatoes": potatoes did not reach Europe or Asia until the 16th century C.E., and Hafez died in the 13th century. I could think of no good reason for a translator to change one vegetable for another while translating, and so the rest of the poem became suspect. I spent a fruitless half hour searching for ghazals by Hafez with the word "union" or "marriage" in the first line, hoping one of them would correspond to this one. No luck. Instead, when I dug a little bit deeper, I found these two articles on the specious nature of Ladinsky's "translations" of Hafez: A.Z. Foreman's gloriously scathing review of The Gift, and Murat Nemet-Nejat's review of the same. I'll let Foreman sum it up nicely:

"Dan Ladinsky's The Gift: Poems from Hafiz the great Sufi Master is perhaps the most inexcusably excruciating book bearing the name "translation" I have ever had the displeasure read. For absurd reasons, it is still widely popular and seen as successful, despite a decade's worth of hindsight since its first printing in 1999. So let me do my part to call this book what it really is: an awfully-written, narcissistic, colossally unintelligent act of charlatanry which derives its success largely from exploiting (and grossly perpetuating) some of the most shameful traits of the American public: ignorance of Islam and Islamic languages, unbridled consumerism, poor literary sensibility, stereotypes of "The East" and reviewers' reticence to say anything negative."

Read more... )

Are there any other examples you can think of where translation becomes betrayal? How can we promote non-appropriative, faithful translations, and how can we even be certain that the translations we read are faithful and respectful to the traditions they originally come from?
shiftingoutlines: (Default)
[personal profile] shiftingoutlines

Amir Khusro was a Hindustani Turk, born of a Turkish father and a Rajput mother, in India. Mureed (spiritual disciple) of Nizamuddin Auliya of Delhi, Khusro was a renowned sufi poet and musician of the 13th century. He wrote poetry primarily in Farsi (Persian) and Hindavi (Although Khusro seems to have referred to it as ‘Dehalvi’ or ‘of Delhi’(yay delhi!). Hindavi can be considered as a close ancestor of present day Hindi and Urdu).

I post two of his poems here—one Farsi and the other Hidavi/Dehalvi/Kharibolo/Hindi. I am only posting transliterations, mostly because I am lazy.



 Mun tu shudam tu mun shudi,mun tun shudam tu jaan shudi

Taakas na guyad baad azeen, mun deegaram tu deegari


I have become you, and you me,

I am the body, you soul;

So that no one can say hereafter,

That you are are someone, and me someone else.




Chhap tilak sab cheeni ray mosay naina milaikay

Chhap tilak sab cheeni ray mosay naina milaikay

Prem bhatee ka madhva pilaikay

Matvali kar leeni ray mosay naina milaikay

Gori gori bayyan, hari hari churiyan

Bayyan pakar dhar leeni ray mosay naina milaikay

Bal bal jaaon mein toray rang rajwa

Apni see kar leeni ray mosay naina milaikay

Khusrau Nijaam kay bal bal jayyiye

Mohay Suhaagan keeni ray mosay naina milaikay

Chhap tilak sab cheeni ray mosay naina milaikay


You took away my looks, my identity, with just a glance.

By making me drink the wine of love,

You've intoxicated me with just a glance;

My fair, delicate wrists with green bangles in them,

Have been held tightly by you with just a glance.

I give my life to you, Oh my cloth-dyer,

You've dyed me in yourself, by just a glance.

I give my whole life to you Oh, Nijam,

You've made me your bride, with just a glance.


Ustad Meraj Ahmed Nizami’s rendition of chhap tilak can be found here on youtube

Translation from herewww.ektaramusic.com/ak/index.html. Translations of poetry, particularly sufi poetry are always a tad inadequate. If you know better, less literal translations, please do post them.

dhobikikutti: earthen diya (Default)
[personal profile] dhobikikutti
I'm sorry for not posting more often; clearly thirty poems in thirty days isn't going to be happening (unless a sudden burst of enthusiasm and new members arrives).

But here are some couplets by that pearl among poets - Amir Khusrau.

The original Farsi script can be found over here as image files.

Ba khak darat rau ast maara,
Gar surmah bechashm dar neaayad.

The dust of your doorstep is just the right thing to apply,
If Surmah (kohl powder) does not show its beauty in the eye!

Zabaan-e yaar-e mun Turkie, wa mun Turkie nami daanum,
Che khush boodi agar boodi zabaanash dar dahanay mun.

My beloved speaks Turkish, and Turkish I do not know;
How I wish if her tongue would have been in my mouth.
yasaman: picture of jasmine flower, with text yasaman (Default)
[personal profile] yasaman
"Address" by Sohrab Sepehri, translation by Marzieh Ghiasi

“Where is the home of the friend?” asked the rider at dawn.
The sky stood still.
The passerby bequeathed
the branch of light he held to his lips
to the darkness of sands
and pointed to a poplar and said:

“Before the tree,
there is a garden lane greener than God’s dream
where love is as blue as the wings of fidelity.
Go on till that alley which emerges from maturity,
then turn to the flower of loneliness,
two steps before the flower
remain at the foot of the eternal fountain of earthly legends
where a transparent fear overtakes you.
In the flowing sincerity of the space, you hear a rustling
A child you see
has climbed a tall pine, to take a chick from the nest of light
and you ask him
where is the home of the friend?”

خانه دوست كجاست؟” در فلق بود كه پرسيد سوار.
آسمان مكثی كرد.
رهگذر شاخه نوری كه به لب داشت به تاريكی شن‌ها بخشيد
و به انگشت نشان داد سپيداری و گفت
“نرسيده به درخت،
كوچه باغی است كه از خواب خدا سبزتر است
و در آن عشق به اندازه پرهای صداقت آبی است
می روی تا ته آن كوچه كه از پشت بلوغ، سر به در می آرد،
پس به سمت گل تنهایی می پيچی،
دو قدم مانده به گل،
پای فواره جاويد اساطير زمين می مانی
و تو را ترسی شفاف فرا می گيرد.
در صميميت سيال فضا، خش‌خشی می شنوی:
كودكی می بينی
رفته از كاج بلندي بالا، جوجه بردارد از لانه نور
و از او می پرسی
خانه دوست كجاست

I could not for the life of me get the quotes to go where I wanted them to in the Persian version, sorry about that. Also, I wanted to have transliteration/transcription of the Persian here too, especially since [personal profile] dhobikikutti really wanted one, but since I can't make heads nor tails of any of the accepted transcription/transliteration schemes and all my attempts were coming out horribly un-pronounceable, I've given up on it. But bonus! Here is a link to a rather cheesy video of a guy reading the poem in Persian, if you want to know what it sounds like in the original Persian. And a more pleasant option, here is Axiom of Choice's song "Greener Than God's Dream," which features most of the poem sung beautifully by Mamek Khadem.


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