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I need your comments on this translated poem from Persian Options
Barbarossa
Posted: Thursday, March 03, 2016 3:33:01 AM
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Joined: 11/14/2014
Posts: 13
Neurons: 80
Hi

I am going to translate a couple of Persian poems into English as a project for a course in translation of literary texts among which there is a poem by Dr. Kadkani, Iranian writer and poet and a lecturer in The University of Tehran. I really love the poem. It is a modern poem; it has kind of rhythm and is unrhymed, anyway it is very beautiful when you read it in Persian.

My English is far from perfect, and my translation of the poem has a lot of problems for sure. I need your comments and ideas on and about it in terms of grammar, word choice, and rhythm. Please do not hesitate to speak frankly; if it is a poor poem (I mean, the translated one) you can say it upfront; anyway I would really appreciate your comments.


The thorn asked the breeze

Where toward (are you)* tearing? (= Where are you going in such a hurry)
The thorn asked the breeze.
Of here I am tired.
Do you not seek journey (= don’t you wish to go on a trip)
From the dirt of this desert?
From head to toe, that I desire, (= I want that wholeheartedly)
Alas, Alas, my feet are tied.
Where toward (are you)* tearing?
To any place (place: here, I need a literary term for a large home)
Which is my place
Other than here.
My wishes to you, but
For the love of God,
When you have this
Dreary dusty desert cleared, (= when you are out of this desert)
To the blossoms, to the blooms,
To the rain, to the brooks
Our regards send
my friend dear.

* Actually I am not sure if it is possible to omit verbs in poetic language, for example “are you” in this case.

thar
Posted: Thursday, March 03, 2016 4:37:22 AM

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It sounds pretty good to me.

You can get away with a lot in a poem, especially one with 'literary style' - ie a feeling, not a story.

A couple of suggestions.
'Where toward' really does not work.
What about 'whither'?
It is a bit old-fashioned, but fine in a poem. Old words whence -for 'from where', and whither - where to, have been replaced by simple where in modern English but are still common in prose.


To clear somewhere meaning to leave it, is too slangy and colloquial. It is not the meaning that the context suggests. It does not fit the literary style of the rest. So the reader takes it to have its standard meaning here - to tidy up, get rid of all the rubbish.
To clear the desert is to use a bulldozer knock down the bushes, and push away any boulders to to make a flat area for a building.
Nobody can clear a desert!
At least, that is how I read it!

My friend dear.
Hmmm, maybe. No, not really.
Post-positional adjectives are often fine in poetry but this particular example doesn't work for me.
You could go for the standard prepositional - my dear friend.
But that is a bit trite, a bit unimaginative.
You could just change the adjective. Lots of others would work post- positionally.

Tearing?
That is tricky.
That is also a slangy term. A kid tears through the house. You tear to hospital in an ambulance. It is fast but it is frenetic, wild - and it is slang.

You just about get away with it here - it sounds odd but that is not necessarily a bad thing. It can jolt the reader a little - surprise them. It just depends what tone you really wish to convey. It is a modern poem. It might be fine to include that modern colloquialism. Or you might want a more consistent literary tone, in which case you might want to look for something else.

Rhythm - no problem, this is free verse.
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Thursday, March 03, 2016 7:56:53 AM

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Location: Livingston, Scotland, United Kingdom
There is a line from the Bible - or at least a biblical text - which is "Quo Vadis" in Latin.
It is usually translated into classical English as "Whither goest thou?".

It has been used in several literary ways (there is a book, and a film, called "Quo Vadis".



Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
Barbarossa
Posted: Thursday, March 03, 2016 3:39:17 PM
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Joined: 11/14/2014
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Neurons: 80
I read your valuable comments and tried to improve my work. I did some correction and made some changes. Does it sound better now? Is there still any problem?

And by rhythm, I do not mean any specific meter; by asking about the rhythm I meant does it look like a poem at all? Does it sound different from a piece of normal prose you may read? Is it pleasant to your ears when you read it? I am asking this since I am not a native speaker, and so I cannot form a genuine opinion about how it sounds to you when you read the poem or read it aloud.


Whitherto (Isn’t it too archaic?)

Whither are you hastening?
The thorn did breathe
To the breeze
Of here I am tired.
From the dirt of this desert,
Do you not wish to journey?
Do you not desire
the opportunity to seize?
From the heart, that I aspire,
Alas and alack, my feet are tied.
Whither are you hastening?
Whither that is my place
Other than this place.
My wishes to you, but
For love of Lord, (=By all that is holy)
When you have escaped
From this dreary desert,
To the blossoms, to the brooks,
To the rain, to the blooms,
Our regards send,
My beloved friend.

Thank you Thar and Drag0nspeaker for your helpful comments.
thar
Posted: Thursday, March 03, 2016 5:33:10 PM

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That is good - your changes really work.

I don't think whitherto is a word? The 'to' is integral in 'whither'.
If you see it used anywhere, I think it was written by people who confused hitherto and whither. Just my opinion!

A couple more issues.
I know this is prose but your ideas are expressed like sentences, which is fine. The just don't end in a natural place.

The thorn did breathe
To the breeze
Of here I am tired.

There are two separate ideas here.
The thorn did breathe to the breeze.
Of here I am tired.

Otherwise, it is
.....the breeze of here I am tired.

If you are going to use punctuation, you need to use it consistently, to separate different ideas. So you need to think about where you need punctuation to end an idea, so it doesn't make the next line a clause, like....breeze of.....
You don't need it everywhere, because some phrases naturally come to an end and don't allow the next phrase to become a clause.
Does that make sense? I can't put it very well.

The opportunity to seize.
To seize is transitive.
So, you can seize an opportunity. You can even invert the word order.
Eg seize the day, you could write as 'the day to seize'.

The trouble is, you can also have an opportunity to seize something. So here it does not appear that the word order is inverted. It just looks like it is missing an object.

Do you not desire
the opportunity to seize?

Reads as
Do you not desire the opportunity to seize something?
Just with the object missing. Very jarring.

Look again at
For love of Lord, (=By all that is holy)
God and Lord are not interchangeable, grammatically.

As for archaic?
Well, poetry is never archaic. All words are fair game!
It is certainly in the classical mode.
It is just a matter of your interpretation as to which mood you want to convey, what the subject matter needs, and in your case, what the character of the original was.

The rhythm feels very good to me - short phrases, question and answer, sparse, with 'space' between the lines, but the short lines rolling well.
But I don't account myself much of a literary critic!

Barbarossa
Posted: Friday, March 04, 2016 4:59:00 AM
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You helped me a lot.

Thank you again, Thar
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Friday, March 04, 2016 5:48:27 AM

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Joined: 9/12/2011
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Location: Livingston, Scotland, United Kingdom

I like the rhythm, and the 'classical' phrasing.

As thar says, in poetry anything goes (it has to communicate an idea, it does not have to follow thousands of rules).
The old words you have used - "whither" and "alas and alack" - will be recognised and understood. They are not so archaic.

The 'alternative name' for "God" is "The Lord", not just "Lord". The alliteration of "For love of The Lord" sounds good.

Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
thar
Posted: Friday, March 04, 2016 6:34:25 AM

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I assume you probably know this, given your high level of English, but a note about archaic words in English.

English has evolved very rapidly and significantly, and the language in everyday use today is very different from the language such as used in your poem. But there is a very strong cultural knowledge of a whole different language, mainly from two sources - Shakespeare writing in the late 1500s and early 1600s, and the King James Bible translated into English in the early 1600s . Both the plays for public performance, and the Bible for public reading and worship, were written in a particular style, for a particular reason. The language was Early Modern English, but this was the time of transition between Middle English and modern English. A lot of forms were used that would now be called archaic, like 'whither goest thou?'.

But because of the cultural power of those two sources in particular, that language is still around. At least in the literary arena. It is not alien. Of course there are also folk adages, and as Drago will tell you, a significant proportion of British communities speak dialects markedly different from 'Standard English', and which include these forms in everyday conversation.

I am sure this is true in many, if not most languages. Just particularly noticeable in those that have changed the most. Many archaic words may well be lost, especially if they have no cultural baggage! But the Bible covers a lot of situations, and so does Shakespeare to a lesser extent. That is before you even start looking at the later work of classical poets. So a vast number of words, and structures like word order, are at the same time both archaic and completely contemporary.
Ashwin Joshi
Posted: Thursday, October 27, 2016 9:44:58 AM

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But because of the cultural power of those two sources in particular, that language is still around. At least in the literary arena.

Dear Friend, after 'still around.", how can we join the second sentence, which is a fragment,with the first sentence ?

Me Gathering Pebbles at The Seashore.-Aj
FounDit
Posted: Thursday, October 27, 2016 10:57:54 AM

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Normally, I'm not a fan of poetry, but when I read this, an odd thing happened, I heard this "version" in my mind. I hesitate to offer it, since it changes your original so much, but it just felt right. So I present it, in case you find it helpful.

“To where do you rush,”
Asked the thorn of the breeze.

“Away from this desert
And its tired, dry sand.
Have you not a wanderlust,
A desire to feed?”

“My heart does aspire
But my feet are mired.
So again, I inquire,
To where do you rush?”

“Any place but this place
Is what I desire
Any place but this place
Sets my heart afire.”

“My heart will travel with you,
Wherever you go,
But For the love of the Lord,
When you have escaped
From this place
For the blossoms, the brooks,
And the rain,
Send my regards
To my beloved friend
Whom I may never see again.”



A great many people will think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices. ~ William James ~
Romany
Posted: Thursday, October 27, 2016 2:40:10 PM
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Joined: 6/14/2009
Posts: 13,336
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Location: Brighton, England, United Kingdom
Guys,

It's the RHYTHM of Foundit's poem that works - even though it wobbles a bit at the end? It has what I think the poem, from Barbarrosa's description, has in the original: it moves. And thus it moves us.

I'm sorry I've only just seen this thread because I find I'm not in accord with Drago and Thar, here.

For it's simply not true that in modern poetry 'anything goes'. It's not the anarchical, wild West of the literature field, guys. Whistle

Where did all the whithers and goests come from? Barba did say it wasn't a traditional poem but a modern one. So 'compare and contrast' the great poets of the Modern school - e.e.cummings and Dylan Thomas will do for starters. They despised all that was Classicist. They wove poetry with modern language. There isn't a wither to be seen. (Perhaps you've been subconsciously channelling the Richard Burton translation of The Rubaiyat?

Foundit has stuck to plain, odern English (even though 'to where do you go' grates horribly on me), and he's also re-instated the dialogue-feel to the poem. Which must be in the original for it to be such a meaningful and fondly regarded poem.

I'm so sorry guys, to be so profoundly in opposition to you both here. But I think if we want to achieve a translation that is capable of moving English-speaking readers in the same way as it does its Persian readers, we'd be much better off going along FD's path.

My candid opinion was that you pretty much had a translation there; but you didn't have a poem.

Edited to add the whistle-smiley for anyone who doesn't get British (sardonic) humour!
FounDit
Posted: Thursday, October 27, 2016 9:34:05 PM

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Joined: 9/19/2011
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Romany wrote:


It's the RHYTHM of Foundit's poem that works - even though it wobbles a bit at the end? It has what I think the poem, from Barbarrosa's description, has in the original: it moves. And thus it moves us.


Well, ya know, that happens when you get old. You start off strong, but get kind of wobbly at the end.

Okay. Let's see if I can fix that.


“Where do you rush to?”
Asked the thorn of the breeze.

“Away from this desert
And its tired, dry sand.
Have you not a wanderlust,
A desire to feed?”

“My heart does aspire
But my feet are mired.
So again, I inquire,
Where do you rush to?”

“Any place but this place
Is what I desire
Any place but this place
Sets my heart afire.”

“My heart travels with you,
Whatever you do,
But For the love of the Lord,
Whenever you go

To that place of blossoms,
of brooks, and of rain,
Please send my regards
To my beloved friend
Whom I may never see again.”


A great many people will think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices. ~ William James ~
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