Translation into Romanian

June 3, 2010 at 6:53 am | Posted in blogging, writing | 10 Comments
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Translation of poetry always raises difficult questions. Because the sound and movement in the language is an integral part of poetry, I believe that the translation is always a new poem, a variation on the original not a replication.

There is a sense in which all communication is a form of translation, of course, a process of encoding thought events into signs and signifiers which are translated or disencoded by the listener. And in a broader arc, there is a way of seeing the world in which it is a subtle and mysterious process of translation. Consciousness translates experience through the mediating filters of the mind which constructs waterfalls and sunsets in a delicate spiraling interplay between perception and conception…

When Ana asked if she could translate one of my poems into Romanian I was thrilled. This is the poem she chose…

different senses, different shoes

unless you are a practioner of the dark arts emerging
schmooze leadened sense
from Bowen Hills
highhat bass and most important
esoteric referensh
perhaps in sullen sluggish chains led
regretful wriggling uncomfortable on its claws
look for two most
unexpected arrivals
rival twice
then be gone

and here is the translation…

alte simţuri, alţi papuci

De nu eşti un practicant al actelor oculte originar
zvonite plumburiu (re)simţite
din Bowen Hills
chimval în timbru grav şi foarte important
o referinţǎ ejotericǎ
probabil cǎ îţi târşâi mohorât înlǎnţuitele
regrete furişate incomod pe gheare
te uitǎ dupǎ douǎ
ajunse pe neaşteptate
îndoitǎ rivalitate
şi te du.

(Thank you, Ana. You can hear Ana reading the poem in Romanian here.)



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  1. You’re much welcomed.
    Oh, you got here before I posted the podcast. It’s up now, if you want to hear it again, Ana.

  2. every bit of this post, in every way beautiful
    Thankyou, Mrs Ott.

  3. If I were a genius in languages I’d translate this into French for you…as it is it’s difficult enough working from French into my native language, English.

    I’ve dabbled a bit in literary translation and it is really, really hard.

    Translation is under estimated…you have to be able to write, I mean really WRITE, in your own language first.

    Prose is hard enough but poetry really becomes something else, and I think you’re right, it becomes its own entity…

    wish i spoke Romanian so i could read Ana’s version…
    It is a very difficult art in itself, as you say. You can hear Ana read the poem at the podcast site. It is a wonderful sounding language.

  4. Ce face pe toate? Unde este Bowen Hills (dealuri)? Si ce este in neregula cu exerseze Magiei? (ride) Isn’t it funny that humans try to imagine how alien creatures might communicate and we can’t even communicate with our own species? I think that is hilarious. Cool write, either in English or Romanian, or Hungarian or Dutch…
    That leads me to think about the gradual evolving of a universal language, F.G. I think the internet is hastening the process.

  5. You guys are amazing. Loved the poem- and its preceding post. My hat off to both of you. The eerie thing is that I was just talking to my sister about poetry translation, and then I read this!
    Synchroncities are signposts! Glad you enjoyed it, Harmonie.

  6. thank you, thank you, thank you Paul and Ana. The voice is an amazing instrument.
    Your welcome, Graham. The voice is the first instrument. See you on Sunday!

  7. Very cool.
    I thought so too, Cocoyea. Ana did a fantastic job.

  8. that is friggin awesome
    as for everyone being able to communicate with each other
    remember the story of the Babelfish
    Thanks, Ozy. I don’t remember it, but I’ll go look it up.

  9. I was thinking Babel fish too 🙂 What a great thing to have your poetry translated (well deserved of course). Big smiles.
    I must go fish out this babel fish from the vast cyber ocean and put him under the microscope, Gabrielle. Does he have mysterious powers? Did he live in the tower? It was great thing to have the poem translated and I will be forever in Ana’s debt.

  10. I love “translation” in art as a form of invention. Copying of all sorts. Changing oil paint to crayon, color to black and white, big to small or the reverse, reversing images as in a mirror, all kinds of play with the same things that are different.

    Ana’s reading is so beautiful in sounds (sounds to the un-Romanian) and it made me double-take and decide to read your poem outloud. I am still forgetful and unpoetical in not more often reading things out loud. Let sounds be sounds! And words be sounds too.

    I’m learning to enjoy the music even of the highhat bass.

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