languages and translations

Posted 3 Oct 2004 at 17:25 UTC by badvogato Share This

lkcl wouldn't translate these two poems for me to 'plain English' or Irish English but he agrees with me that it would not be a bad idea to translate them into Chinese. As far as Chinese go, I know very little, lest a few persons here: sye, tk, zhaoway. So this is a calling to translate John Donne to Chinese.

1. A Lecture upon the Shadow

Stand still, and I will read to thee A Lecture, Love, in loves philosophy. These three houres that we have spent, Walking here, Two shadowes went Along with us, which we our selves produc'd; But, now the Sunne is just above our head, We doe those shadowes tread; And to brave clearness all things are reduc'd. So whilst our infant loves did grow, Disguises did, and shadowes, flow, From us, and our cares; but, now 'tis not so.

That love hath not attain'd the high'st degree, Which is still diligent lest others see.

Except our loves at this noone stay, We shall new shadowes make the other way. As the first were made to blinde Others; these which come behinde Will worke upon our selves, and blind our eyes. If our loves faint, and westwardly decline; To me thou, falsly, thine, And I to thee mine actions shall disguise. The morning shadowes weare away, But these grow longer all the day, But oh, loves day is short, if love decay.

Love is a growing, or full constant light; And his first minute, after noone, is night.

2. Selfe Love

He that cannot chuse but love, And strives against it still, Never shall my fancy move; For he loves 'gaynst his will; Nor he which is all his own, And can att pleasure chuse, When I am caught he can be gone, And when he list refuse. Nor he that loves none but faire, For such by all are sought; Nor he that can for foul ones care, For his Judgement then is nought: Nor he that hath wit, for he Will make me his jest or slave; Nor a fool, for when others.... He can neither... Nor he that still his Mistresse payes, For she is thrall'd therefore: Nor he that payes not, for he sayes Within, shee's worth no more. Is there then no kinde of men Whom I may freely prove? I will vent that humour then In mine own selfe love.

Oh yes, will someone..., posted 3 Oct 2004 at 19:19 UTC by tk » (Observer)

...translate this poem to whatever language?

tk's poem in French, posted 4 Oct 2004 at 10:23 UTC by yeupou » (Master)

Ils disent que ce poème n'est rien, sinon la prose d'un enfant avec des retours à la ligne éparpillés au hasar Ils disent que ce poème est creux, vide, sans mesure, sans rimes, sans rythme, rien.

Mais c'est seulement parce que ce poème est trop radical pour eux. Ce sont des idiots ignorants. Ils adhèrent à des stéréotypes obsoletes sur l'importance de la mesure et des rimes. Ils ont été endoctrinés par les Censeurs Maléfiques de la Poésie qui définissent arbitrairement des lois et une hierarchie dans la poésie. Ils ne comprenent pas l'anti-conformisme. Ils disent que nos poèmes sont tous les mêmes, que nous ne sommes pas anti-conformistes ; parce qu'ils ne savent pas trouver le grand individualisme et génie au travers des lignes de chaque poème.

Lorsque nous disons "génie", nous ne sommes pas élitistes. Nous considèrons l'élitisme comme un mal. Les Censeurs Maléfiques de la Poésie sont ceux qui d'entre nous sont élitistes.

Nous devons célébrer la valeur de l'invididu face à l'oppression des autorités. Nous devons écraser toutes hierarchies, détruire toutes autorités -- and par a Force du Stylo qui écrit ce Poème, NOUS SERONS VICTORIEUX !!!

In translated it because that's something I usually like to do. But face it, it's definitely crappy and childish. "We'll destroy the autorité by the force of the pen". Sure dude! Have a drink while I'm having a laugh. And believe me, I do not give a toss about the right meter, scansion (and whatever) of poetry. But, sure, I wont challenge the idea that I'm an ignorant fool.

Merci! :-), posted 4 Oct 2004 at 17:41 UTC by tk » (Observer)

I think I'll release the original poem under the "W3 D0NT N33D N0 3D00C4T10N 4ND Z3 3ST4BL1SHM3NT 33Z 4LW4YZ WR0NG 4ND G30RG3 B00SH S4X0RZ S0 US3 0UR OS" license.

Seriously... do you mind if I include your translation on my home page?

metre, posted 4 Oct 2004 at 19:10 UTC by lkcl » (Master)

i like the original because of its metre: to translate it into "plain" english would require that the original form be lost.

... it'd be a bit like reading poetry via stephen hawking's computer-generated speech synthesis module...

it takes a poet to translate a poem, posted 5 Oct 2004 at 00:41 UTC by jbuck » (Master)

Someone who is merely fluent in two languages, but who has no sense of poetry, will probably produce crud if he or she tries to translate poetry. Literal translations simply will not do.

Chinese, posted 5 Oct 2004 at 12:54 UTC by sye » (Journeyer)

i wonder which Chinese poet can be grouped togethter with John Donne, poetically speaking...

well, posted 6 Oct 2004 at 18:31 UTC by yeupou » (Master)

tk: sure, feel free to include this translation. But please do not add my name along, or mention that I do not share views exposed in this poem.

jbuck: I personally doubt that poetry can be correctly translated. If you translate it litterally (more or less what I did for tk's link), it will probably sounds a bit strange, not clean and beautiful. But on the other hand, if you don't, you will no longer be doing a real translation, but an interpretation. I often notice differences between what actors says and what is written on subtitles, when watching TV show or movie in English with French subtitles: I understand that many things cannot be appropriately translated into French easily, so translators have to interpret ; but in the end, the translation is disrepectful of the original meaning of the dialogs. Apart from the usual translation problem in movies (intonations constitute a big part of actors job; people doing the french voices are rarely good enough (or have enough time) to do something acceptable by comparison), you have to face the fact that translatio is a myth. We are only doing more or less intepretatio. And it is dramatically hard to draw the line between too much intepretatio and not enough.

Re: well, posted 6 Oct 2004 at 19:16 UTC by tk » (Observer)

yeupou: I fear that adding the disclaimer will spoil the effect, so I opted to give a nameless acknowledgement instead. And the, erm, poem now has its own page. :) :) :)

Re: Re: well, posted 6 Oct 2004 at 20:02 UTC by yeupou » (Master)

You did right.

Note hasard is mispelled (written hasar). Also, "and par a Force du Stylo" must be replaced by "et par la Force du Stylo" (or better "et par la Force de la Plume").

Kerplunk!, posted 7 Oct 2004 at 08:22 UTC by redi » (Master)

I find these 30 attempts to translate Matsuo Bashô's Frog Haiku interesting. Different translations preserve different aspects of the original; some keep the 5-7-5 haiku structure, others ignore that to capture the feeling without the timing.

Each one captures what the translator considered important about the original, possibly exaggerating one aspect of it but neglecting other aspects. I think it's interesting that a good translator might create a wonderful poem in its own right, even if it doesn't evoke the exact same response in the reader as the original. Personally I like the Alan Watts version:

The old pond.
A frog jumps in.

Re: Kerplunk!, posted 7 Oct 2004 at 11:49 UTC by redi » (Master)

I should re-phrase that slightly; as jbuck said, it isn't enough to be a good translator. A good translator with a sense of poetry might create a wonderful poem, even if it evokes a different response in the reader.

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