Guilhèm de Peitius: Song for New Romance (From Occitan)


Fa longtemps qu'ai pas revirat res de la lenga d'òc ni mai escrich subre sa literatura. E ja qu'i torni, ço'm par, deuriái tornar començar a la debuta. Alara...

Dins una encontrada de longa romanizacion, a una epòca ont las corts del sud de Gàllia èran totjorn en contacte cultural indirècte amb las tạ'ifas musulamanas d'Al-Andalós, sota lo triple signe d'amor, de jòia e de jovença, nasquèt la primièra literatura escricha "en plana lengua romana" coma lo diguèt aptament Jaufré Rudel. Dins lo sègle seguent, lo dialècte roman d'aquela literatura primairenca va venir la lenga lirica per excelléncia per las regions de parla romanica.

Guilhèm IX de Peitièus, lo duc d'Aquitània, lo prince del Trobar e lo mai grand feudal del sieu temps, es lo primièr trobador conegut. La sieu cort, situada a l'entorn dels grands monastèris de Lemòtges e Peitièus aguèt una granda importància per l'istòria literària de la lenga. Mas sembla pauc versemblable que l'art de trobar nasquèt a sa cort. Guilhèm, aital coma las compausicions a las qualas el leguèt son nom, foguèt probablament lo resultat e lo produch d'un long periòde de desvolopament que ne podem percebre uèi pas que qualques traças obscuras.

Ço que nos demòra d'aquela etapa de la literatura d'òc es pas qu'una fraccion relativament pichona de l'abondància lirica que segur existissià an aquela epòca, ço qu'es tipic quand se tracta d'una literatura vernaculara de l'Etat Mejana. Lo pauc que ne possedissèm a estat salvat, per aital dire, d'un naufratge istoric. 

Aquò dich, la situacion de l'occitan es evidentament pas gaire tipica, e es per aquò que decidiguèri d'escriure lo meu commentàri en òc. Al mai li torni pensar, al mai soi segur qu'es una bona idèa. Tot francament, se tracta d'una question de principi. La lenga es pas mòrta, e cal absoludament pas la tractar coma s'ela lo foguèsse. La majoritat de los qu'estudian la lenga en defòra de las regions occitanofònas dessabon gaireben tot de sas formas modernas, ço qu'ièu trobi vergonhós. D'ont l'escarsitat dels trabalhs de lingüistica suls autors occitans contemporaneus. E mai las grandas òbras demòran èrmas d'estudi.

En mai del nombre globalament reduch dels lingüistas que trabalhan sus la lenga moderna, i a agut plusors literators anglofòns que seguiguèron las piadas d'Ezra Pound, òme que maugrat lo sieu multilingüisme literàri e sa fetichizacion dels trobadors, aviá pas res a dire sus la litteratura d'òc modèrne. En fach, òm pòt se demandar perqué Pound s'interessèt pas als activitats del Felibritge. Es una question que fins ara degun a pausada. Mas quitament s'el ne sabià, ieu dobti qu'un cambafin coma el aguèsse ausat s'encanalhar amb un simple "patoés", encara mai qu'avià pas res que mesprètz pels estatjants reals de las tèrras d'Òc pendent lo temps que passèt en Provénça. Mas ara cauqui fòra l'ièra...

En tot cas, a mon vejaire, tot medievaliste, tot romaniste, tot literator que s'interessa a la lenga trobadorenca deuriá al mens saber un quicomet sus l'occitan contemporanèu. Deurián tanben faire faça a un fach tragic: l'abotiment mai probable de la situacion actuala en frança es la fin de la lenga d'òc coma paraula sociala.

It's been a while since I've translated from Occitan or written about it. Since I'm getting back to it, I guess I should start way back at the beginning. So then...

In a country where the roots of Romanization ran deep, at a time when the courts of southern Gaul were as yet in indirect cultural contact with the Muslim tā'ifas of Al-Andalus, beneath the threefold sign of Love, Joy and Youth, the first Romance literature was born, in a language known then as "Lengua Romana" before Romance-speakers even had a self-conception of speaking different languages from one another. In the following century, the Romance dialect of that precocious literature would become the quintessential lyric language for the Romance-speaking world.

William IX of Poitiers, duke of Aquitaine, one of the most important feudal lords of his time is the first known Troubadour. His court which lay in the environs of the great monasteries of Limoges and Poitiers was of great importance for Occitan literary history. But it seems hardly likely that the Troubadour tradition was born at his court exactly. William, no less than the body of work to which he bequeathed his name, was probably the product of a long period of development of which we can only perceive murky traces.

What still remains of that stage of Occitan literature is little more than a relatively tiny fraction of the lyric abundance that surely existed at the time. This is typical when it comes to vernacular literature of the Early Middle Ages. What little we do have of it has been salvaged, so to speak, from a historical shipwreck.

That said, the situation of Occitan is obviously hardly typical, and it is for this reason that I decided to write my  commentary in modern Occitan. It's a matter of principle. Occitan is not dead, and it follows that one absolutely shouldn't treat it as if it were. Most who study the language remain almost completely clueless about its modern forms. Whence, for example, the paucity of linguistic works on modern authors. Even the great works remain fallow fields of study.

Apart from the overall reduced number of linguists who work on modern Occitan, there have been quite a few anglophone literati following in the footsteps of Ezra Pound who, despite his literary multilingualism and his fetishization of the troubadours, had not a thing to say about modern Occitan literature. In fact one might wonder why Pound didn't take an interest in the modern Occitan writers like Mistral, who had recently won a Nobel Prize. But even if he knew about it, I highly doubt that a snooty prig like him would have dared slum it up with a lowly "patois" especially since he had nothing but scorn for the actual people living in Occitania during his stay in Provence. But I digress...

Anyway, it is my opinion that anyone interested in the language of troubadours, whether a Romanist or a lover of literature, ought to at least know a bit about the modern language. They will also have to confront a tragic fact: the most probable outcome of the current situation in France is the end of Occitan as a living language in social use.



Song for New Romance
By Guilhèm de Peitieus
Translated by A.Z. Foreman 

In the sweet beauty of new days
The leaves reach out and young birds raise
Each in its native tweeted speech
The harmonies of a new song
Now it is right a man should reach
And have what he has sought so long

The way our love is going now
Is like a limber hawthorn bough 
Upon a tree that stands all night
Shaken in wind and sleet and rain
Till morning's sun comes stretching light
Over green leaves and boughs again

From her where good and beauty rise
No message yet has reached my eyes
So now I neither smile nor sleep
Nor take a stand nor dare advance
Till I am sure that she will keep
Our truce and yield to my demands

Let me recall that day once more 
We made sweet peace in our long war
When she made such a gift to me
Of love, her ring, and luscious oaths
God grant I only live to see
My hands again beneath her clothes

I do not care what others say
To take my nearest love away
I know how words of cant are spilled
And spread to rumors of no good
They boast what love their tools can build
But we're the ones who nail the wood

The Original:

Novèl Chant
Guilhèm de Peitièus

Ab la doçor del temps novèl
Fuòlhon li bòsc, e li ausèl
Chanton chascus en lor lati,
Segon lo vèrs del novèl chant:
Adonc esta ben qu'hom s'aisi
D'aquò dont hom a plus talant.

La nòstra amor va enaiçi
Com la brancha de l'albespi
Qu'estai sóbre l'arbre tremblant,
La nuòch, ab la pluòia e al gèl,
Tro l'endeman, que·l sols s'espand
Per la fuòlha vèrt el ramèl.

De lai dont plus m'es bon e bèl
Non vei messagièr ni sagèl,
Donc mon còrs non dòrm ni non ri
Ni no m'autz traire adenant,
Tro qu'ièu sapcha ben de la fi,
S'el es aiçi com ièu demand.

Encar me mémbra d'un mati
Que nos fesém de guèrra fi
E que·m donèt un don tant grand,
Sa drudaría e son anèl:
Encar me lais Dièus viure tant
Qu'aia mas mans sotz son mantèl!

Qu'ièu non ai sonh d'estranh lati
Que·m parta de mon Bon Vesi,
Qu'ièu sai de paraulas com van,
Ab un brièu sermon qui s'espèl:
Que tal se van d'amor gabant;
Nos n'avem la pèça e·l coutèl.

Notes on the Occitan Text:

S1:

vèrs. Lo sens intentat aicí presenta fòrça ambigüitats. Se pòt que se tracta d'un "vèrs" dins lo sens mai o mens transparent de la paraula. Mas i a d'autras possibilitats, talas coma lo sens de "mesura" o de "ritme" o encar "tèxte verbal d'un cant."

s'aisinar - Las incertitudes que presenta aqueste tèrme son quasiment espantosas. Lo contèxt nos ajuda pas gaire. Lo sens de "gausir,"  lo de "trobar patz" e lo de "arrapar, panar" figuran dins l'esphèra semantica de la paraula.

S3

se traire adenant - aquesta expression deurià aver de nuàncias militaras, subretot en un contèxt ont la simbologia e los imatges cavalièrs, e lo caràcter generalment guerrièr de nombrosas passatges, pòdon pas èsser ignorats.

S5:

Bon Vesi – Se tracta d'un senhal, un tipe de pseudonime usat per designar l'amada o lo recipient de la cançon. Lo masculin es aicí utilisat coma abstraccion poetica.

Gabar, pèça — De costuma los comentadors an pres lo vèrbe gabar dins lo sens commun de "se vantar." Aqueste es completament credible. Mas se pòt que lo sens mai literal de "s'obrir la boca" siá tanben relevant. Es a dire que d'autres van gabant de l'amor, s'obrissent la boca precisament perqu'an fam — al nivèl quasi literal — de ço que realament possedisson pas. Encara una autra possibilitat seriá de prendre pèça dins un sens mai obscèn. Se pòt que siá pas que mon imaginacion que me guilha, mas quand un òme que ven de cantar los elògis de sas proesas sexualas menciona sa "pèça" e un coutèl o d'autres objèctes fallics, i a probablament pas gaire de grands mistèris a descobrir subre l'idèa generala.

Wang Wei: Suffering Heat (From Chinese)

Suffering Heat
By Wang Wei
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

Sky and earth are filled with sun 
 Clouds of fire pack hill and vale 
Grass and leaves are burnt out and shriveled  
 Stream and swamp dried up and drained 
In light white silk my clothes feel heavy 
 Beneath thick leaves I bemoan thin shade 
I cannot get to my bamboo mat  
 Best wash my linen again today 

Could I but escape beyond space and time 
 Into empty reaches alone and away 
Where long winds wend from a million miles  
 And great waters wash off my filth and fray 
Then see the body's way is suffering 
 And know the mind not yet awake 
Then enter the Quenching* Gate of a sudden 
 Let clear cool joy wind any way 

*i.e. Nirvana, the extinguishing of the "fires" (or poisons) fueled by temporal obsession.


The Original:

王维
苦熱
 
赤日滿天地,
火雲成山嶽。
草木盡焦卷,
川澤皆竭涸。
輕紈覺衣重,
密樹苦陰薄。
莞簟不可近,
絺绤再三濯。
思出宇宙外,
曠然在寥廓。
長風萬裏來,
江海蕩煩濁。
卻顧身為患,
始知心未覺。
忽入甘露門,
宛然清涼樂。

Bian Zhilin: Air Force Fighters (From Chinese)

Written some time between 1937 and 1940.

Air Force Fighters
Biàn Zhīlín
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

With lightning and with thunder
Defend the skies of light
Defend the clouds of white
Dark smudges come to plunder

Falcons of liberty
Linked earthward from the skies

To keep our country clear
You have sharp eyes

Lighter than feathers you fly
Weightier than Mount Tai

Freely in your duty and deadly arts
 

Immortals of the sky
Who in five minutes die
In a hundred million worrying hearts

 

Notes:

L9-10: The first two lines (which literally read "lighter than a wildgoose feather, heavier than Mt. Tai"), both proverbial idioms in Chinese, are an allusion to a passage from the famous Letter to Ren An by the Han dynasty historian Sīmǎ Qiān. The passage reads: a man may die but once, and whether death is to him as weighty as Mount Tai, or light as a goosefeather, depends on why he dies and what for. The most important thing is not to disgrace one's ancestors.

L11: literally "free and easy (carefree) within your responsibility." The "free and easy" is a callback to a chapter of Zhuangzi.



The Original:
 

空軍戰士   Kōngjūn Zhànjī
卞之琳    Biàn Zhīlín

要保衛藍天,
 Yào bǎowèi lántiān,
要保衛白雲, yào bǎowèi báiyún,
不讓打污印, bù ràng dǎ wū yìn,
靠你們雷電。 kào nǐmen léidiàn.

與大地相連,
 Yǔ dàdì xiānglián,
自由的鷲鷹, zìyóude jiùyīng,
要山河乾淨, yào shānhé gānjìng,
你們有敏眼。 nǐmen yǒu mǐn yǎn.

也輕於鴻毛,
 Yě qīng yú hóngmáo,
也重於泰山, yě zhòng yú tàishān,
責任內消遙, zérèn nèi xiāo yáo,

勞苦的人仙!
 láokǔde rénxiān!
五分鐘死生, Wǔ fēnzhōng sǐshēng,
千萬顆憂心! qiānwàn kē yōuxīn!

Bian Zhilin: Road (From Chinese)

Road
By Biàn Zhīlín
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

Ah roads oh prolongations of my foot prints
Like tunes composed of print notes to a song
That, soundless or resounding, I play over
As if counting a rosary — threading my way along

Past the pavilion-stop, the bridge and — stop!
This is the place where I lost something back then:
A tiny little notebook that contained
The addresses of how many real friends?

I can remember somewhere grasping my own
Handful of worldly life at fullest flower;
Some ten or twenty paces on, it turned
Out to be nothing but one pretty flower.

Alright then. Bury it amid the weeds
With the silk sash. For all is vanity.  
In the sky stars fall, becoming falling stars;
The white ship's trail reverts into blue sea.

Notes: 

L8: 故舊 really means "old friend, friend of long standing" but I translate this as "real friend" because the implication is that these would be friends who stuck with him. Not ex-friends. How many friends remained of old times? The implication is not many.


L14: in Chinese this line reads literally "tired of 'holding a silk sash in vain'" and contains a classical quotation from a poem by Li Yu, the last ruler of the southern Tang, more competent as a poet than as a ruler. The lines being quoted, in their entirety, are 空持羅帶,回首恨依依 "holding a silk sash pointlessly, I look back with lingering regret." Li when he wrote this had been recently dethroned, and was surveying Nanking, depopulated after a year of siege, and now fallen to Taizong. Along with the passing of spring he has been lamenting the desolation of the town, still treasuring a time when he was possessed of a kingdom. The silk sash was a status symbol in Imperial China. One's station and success in life were displayed in the color and patterning of the sash, and in the sorts of ornaments and accessories one would wear on it. Li Yu's old sash would have been distinctively regal.

An expanded paraphrase of the sentiment behind the passage being quoted might be: "I cling to the trappings in which I continue to invest my identity, even though I intellectually know that it is all ephemeral, that I've lost what I once had, that things like this kingly sash are meaningless outside of a context now forever gone. Yet I go on obsessing over the past, plagued by nostalgia and regret, because that is the only way I am capable of existing. I understand all of this and still I do it. That is how hard it is to let go of the way things were. I keep this sash because of what it still means to me, reminding me of a time when it still meant something to others. I cannot fully reconcile myself to this change even as I know that, like the change of seasons, it is simply the way of things."

Ideas (drawn from Buddhism and Taoism) concerning self-alienation, and the fragmentation and illusory nature of a coherent self, inform quite a few of Biàn's poems.

The Original:


路          
卞之琳        Biàn Zhīlín

路啊,足印的延長,  lù wa, zú yìnde yáncháng,
如音調成於音符,   rú yīndiào chéng yú yīnfú,
無聲有聲我重弄,   wúshēng yǒushēng wǒ zhòng nòng,
像細數一串念珠。   xiàng xì shǔ yī huàn niànzhū.

穿過亭,穿過橋,停! Chuānguò tíng, chuānguò qiáo, tíng!
這裡我丟過東西:   Zhèlǐ wǒ diūguò dōngxī:
一本小小的手冊,   Yīběn xiǎoxiǎode shǒucè,
多少故舊的住址。   duōshǎo gùjiùde zhùzhǐ.

記得在什麼地方    Jìdé zài shénme dìfāng
我掏過一掬繁華,   wǒ tāoguò yījū fánhuá,
走了十步,二十步:  zǒule shí bù, èrshí bù:
原來是一朵好花!   Yuánlái shì yī duǒhǎo huā!……

也罷,給埋在草里,  Yěbà, gěimái zài cǎo lǐ,
既厭了空持羅帶。   jì yànle kōng chí luōdài.
天上星流為流星,   Tiānshàng xīng liú wèi liúxīng,
白船跡還諸藍海。   bái chuánjī huán zhū lánhǎi.

Zheng Min: Death of a Poet #2 (From Chinese)

From Death of a Poet (Poem 2 of 19)
By Zheng Min
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

Songs never sung aloud
Dreams incompletely dreamt
stare down at me from the edge of a cloud
like migrant birds in fog's bewilderment

Here the primordial age is just beginning
but without the dinosaur's vitality
history wanders lost in the confusion
spring will not arrive so easily

Take away the notes you did not sing
Take away your incompletely painted dream
On that side: sky  and on the other: earth

Already the long long lines carrying
true feelings long ago washed clean
compose our story's sequel going forth

The Original:

没有唱出的歌       Méiyǒu chàng chūde gē
没有做完的梦       Méiyǒu zuò wánde mèng
在云端向我俯窥      zài yúnduān xiàng wǒ fǔkuī  
候鸟样飞向迷茫      hòuniǎo yàng fēi xiàng mímáng

这里洪荒正在开始     zhèlǐ hónghuāng zhèngzài kāishǐ
却没有恐龙的气概     què méiyǒu kǒnglóngde qìgài
历史在纷忙中走失     lìshǐ zài fēn mángzhōng zǒushī
春天不会轻易到来     chūntiān bú huì qīngyì dàolái

带走吧你没有唱出的音符  dàizǒu ba nǐ méiyǒu chàngchūde yīnfú
带走吧你没有画完的梦境  dàizǒu ba nǐ méiyǒu huàwánde mèngjìng
天的那边,地的那面    tiān dì nàbiān dì dì nà miàn

已经有长长的从伍一    yǐjīng yǒu zhǎngde cóng wǔyī
带着早已洗净的真情    dài zhe zǎoyǐ xǐ jìngde zēngqíng
把我们的故事续编。    bă wŏmende gùshì xùbiān

Zheng Min: Death of a Poet # 1 (From Chinese)

From Death of a Poet (Poem 1 of 19)
By Zheng Min
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

Who is it, who is it who's
the one whose mighty fingers break
This winter day's narcissus, make
the white juice ooze

out of jade green and scallion-white stems?
Who is it, who is it
Who is it whose mighty fist
shattered this elegant antique vase to bits?

Who makes the juice of life
gush out of the breast?
The narcissus is withering

Destruction of the illusions of a new wife
is the hand which makes a life
taking back a song not fully sung

The Original:

是谁,是谁      Shì shéi, shì shéi
是谁的有力的手指   shì shéi de yǒulì de shóuzhǐ
折断这冬日的水仙   zhéduàn zhè dōngrì de shuǐxiān
让白色的汁液溢出   ràng báisè de zhīyè yìchū

翠绿的,葱白的茎条? cuìlǜ de, cōngbái de jīng tiáo?
是谁,是谁      Shì shéi, shì shéi
是谁的有力的拳头   shì shéi de yǒulì de quántóu
把这典雅的古瓶砸碎  bǎ zhè diányǎ de gǔ píng zá suì

让生命的汁液     ràng shēngmìng de zhīyè
喷出他的胸膛     pēn chū tā de xiōngtáng
水仙枯萎       shuǐxiān kūwěi

新娘幻灭       xīnniáng huànmiè
是那创造生命的手掌  shì nà chuàngzào shēngmìng de shóuzhǎng
又将没有唱完的歌索回 yòu jiāng méiyǒu chàng wán de gē suǒ huí


Feng Zhi: Sonnet 27 (From Chinese)


Sonnet 27: Poetic Form
By Feng Zhi
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

To freely overflowing formless water
The water-bearer brings an oval jar

Thus giving definite form to water's matter
Look! The windvane flutters in the Fall air.


It holds that which cannot be held at all.
Let some of the far dark, the distant light,
The glory and decay of leaves in Fall
And the mind launching toward the infinite


Be captured on this banner-vane this way.

In vain we've listened to wind sough all night
Watched grass go yellow and leaves grow red all day. 


How now to focus, hold our thoughts aright?
These verses be a windvane filled with Fall,
To hold some of what can't be held at all.


The Original:

從一片氾濫無形的水裡,  
Cóng yípiàn fànlàn wúxíngde shuǐ lǐ
取水人取來橢圓的一瓶,  qǔshuǐ rén qǔ lái tuǒyuán de yì píng, 
這點水就得到一個定型;  zhè dián shuǐ jiù dédào yígè dìngxíng;
看,在秋風裡飄揚的風旗, kàn, zài qiūfēng lǐ piāoyáng de fēngqí,
 
它把住些把不住的事體,  
tā bǎ zhù xiē bǎ bú zhù de shì tǐ,
讓遠方的光、遠方的黑夜  ràng yuǎnfāng de guāng, yuǎnfāng de hēiyè 
和些遠方的草木的榮謝,  hé xiē yuǎnfāng de cǎomù de róng xiè,
還有個奔向遠方的心意,  hái yǒu gè bēn xiàng wúqióng de xīnyì,
 
都保留一些在這面旗上。  
dōu bǎoliú yìxiē zài zhè miàn qí shàng.
我們空空聽過一夜風聲,  Wǒmen kōngkōng tīngguò yíyè fēngshēng,
空看了一天的草黃葉紅,  kōng kànle yìtiān de cǎo huángyèhóng,
 
向何處安排我們的思想?  
xiàng hé chù ānpái wǒmen de sī, xiǎng?
但願這些詩像一面風旗   Dàn yuàn zhèxiē shī xiàng yímiàn fēngqí
把住一些把不住的事體。  bǎ zhù yìxiē bǎ bú zhù de shì tǐ.











Zheng Min: One Glance (From Chinese)

One Glance
By Zheng Min
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

Rembrandt: Young girl at a half open door


What's beautiful are those two shoulders sinking

Into shadows locking the orchard-rich chest
Only the radiant face appearing as a dream of a sudden
Corresponds to the slender fingers on the low gate, at rest


And the river of time bears off another leaf from the tree
From her half-lowered riddling eyes flows such a dazzling silence
Her unchangeable calm is headed for a limited life — as she
Casts one long-lived glance at this changeling world in a chance twilight


The Original:

一瞥
郑敏

优美的是那消失入阴影的双肩,
和闭锁着丰富如果园的胸膛
只有光辉的脸庞像一个梦的骤现
遥遥的呼应着歇在矮门上的手,纤长。

从日历的树上,时间的河又载走一片落叶
半垂的眸子,谜样,流露出昏眩的静默
不变的从容对于有限的生命也正是匆忙
在一个偶然的黄昏,她抛入多变的世界这长住的一瞥。


注:此诗有关荷兰画家伦伯朗的一幅画《门口的年轻女子》。

Sargon Boulus: Du Fu in Exile (From Arabic)

In Arabic, this poet's use of the words manfā "exile" and nakabāt "catastrophes, ordeals" has a very contemporary political undertone to my ear, evoking (but not exactly invoking) the catastrophic upheavals and displacements that have taken place in the Arab world over the past century.

Du Fu in Exile
By Sargon Boulus
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

"The smoke of war is blue
White the bones of men" 

The village Du Fu came to
Was a borough where the fire was almost out
He came knowing that Words
Like his hungry horse, without some feed,
Might not have much left in them 
After so many ordeals
 

So many battlefields 
He came across, where bleak winds bleach
The bones of a horseman jumbled up
With horse bones. Soon enough, grass would hide the rest.


A fire to warm the hands by
As his head hung low, the heart all firewood...


He

Had to start wandering on his own at twenty
And never once found a place to stay
Wherever he was, a war was on. And on.


His daughter died in a famine
In China, they say he wrote like the gods


Another village Du Fu came to
Poured smoke up from its kitchens
As hungry people waited in front of the baker's

The bakers' sweat-soaked faces: mirrors
Bearing witness to the heat of their fires


Du Fu. You, sir, are Lord of Exile. 

The Original:

تو فو في المنفى
سِركُون بولص

"دخانُ الحرب أزرق
بيضاء عظامُ البشر."


قريةٌ يَصلُ إليها تو فو
دَسْكرةٌ فيها نارٌ تكادُ تنطفئْ
يَصلُ اليها عارفاً أنّ الكلمة
مثلَ حصانه النافق، دون حَفنة من البَرسيم
قد لا تبقى مزهرةً بعدَ كلّ هذه النـَكبات!

كم ساحة معركة
مرّ بها تصفُرُ فيها الريح
عظامُ الفارس فيها اختلطتْ
بعظام حصَانه، والعشبُ سرعان ما أخفى البقيّة!

نارٌ تتدفّأ عليها يَدان
بينما الرأسُ يتدلّى والقلبُ حَطب

هو الذي بدأ بالتِّيه في العشرين
لم يجد مكاناً يستقرّ فيه حتى النهاية.
حيثما كان، كانت الحربُ وأوزارُها.

ابنتهُ ماتت في مجاعة. . .
ويُقالُ في الصين أنه كان يكتبُ كالآلهة!

قريةٌ أخرى يصلُ اليها تو فو
يتصاعدُ منها دخانُ المطابخ
وينتظر الجياعُ على أبواب مَخبَز.
وجوهُ الخبّازين المتصبّبة عرَقاً، مرايا
تشهدُ على ضَراوة النيران.

تو فو، أنت، أيّها السيّد، يا سيّد المنفى.



Anonymous: "Waiting on Him: A Dunhuang Song" (From Chinese)

A popular song from the mid-Tang dynasty, from a collection recovered in a scroll-cave at Dunhuang. Unlike most Song verse in this genre in the early period (but like most other lyrics in the peculiar collection it is taken from, the 雲謠集) this lyric appears to have been actually composed by a woman, rather than by a man in a woman's voice.

Waiting On Him (To the tune of "Bowing to the Moon")
By Anonymous
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

Off to another land my wayward man has gone
 
  But now the new year has well-nigh come
And he hasn't made it home
 
  I hate his love that runs like water 
So reckless and so ready to roam 
He couldn't care less for home 
 Beneath the flowers I turn and pray
  To the powers of heaven and earth and say 
  Till this very day
He has left me in this empty room alone 

 I see above me the blues of heaven's dome
 I am sure the moon and stars and sun  
Must know about my pain 
 I lean at the window-screen alone  
 And let the tears come streaming down
  On my gold-beaded silken gown
And cry away at unlucky fate
 
  And how screwed-up my karma has become
Still I pray I see his face
 
  And I swear I'll give him hell when he gets home


The Original:

拜新月

蕩子他州去  
已經新歲未還歸
堪恨情如水  
到處輙狂迷  
不思家國   
花下遙指祝神明
直至于今   
拋妾獨守空閨 

上有宆蒼在  
三光也合遙知 
倚帡幃坐   
淚流點滴   
金縷羅衣   
—自嗟薄命  
緣業至于思  
乞求待見面  
誓辜伊   

Wang Guowei: Lyrics to a Forgotten Tune (From Chinese)

Wang Guowei in the early 20th century realizing as he writes in the classical style, that what he's saying doesn't match what he's thinking. The traditional poetry once had a vital social function, served as a means of refined expression, and was normally taken to be non-fictional. Now it corresponds to no reality whatever. It's become a heap of clichés that don't align with the world he knows, an arabesque of refined wordgames.


Lyrics to a Forgotten Tune

Wang Guowei
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

Is there something real in the words  
                 to these new songs of yours?
To maiden heads those fancy phrases 
                  are laughably soft-core*
"Lamplight o'er a broken heart..." 
               just who'd you write that for?
Behind my desk I peer around  
               at recent works of mine
Then dim the lights and reckon out 
               the joys of bygone times
All trivial affairs of the heart 
             where not one line aligns


* This line is a pun about puns. The term 綺語 means either "ornate writing, fancy phrasing" or more euphemistically "smutty language, erotica." The term 胡盧 means "loud laughter" or "calabash, bottle gourd" (in this latter sense also written 葫蘆.) Calabash may be used to allude to the closed world of women, to various hidden forbidden delights, or to the vagina and the delights sequestered therein. It could be read to mean "ornate writing like this is just hilarious" or else something like "this kind of innuendo belongs between the sheets." To top it off 綺語 is also a homophone for 岐語 "double entendre"

The Original:


浣溪沙

本事新詞定有無,
這般綺語太胡盧。
燈前腸斷為誰書?
隱几窺君新製作,
背燈數妾舊歡愉。
區區情事總難符。

Dafydd ap Gwilym: The Ruin (From Welsh)

The Ruin
By Dafydd ap Gwilym
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

Battered hovel  bare-holed you stand
Between the moor  and meadowland
They sorrow who once  saw your prime
As a comely little  cottage of pastime
To see you a shattered  shack today
With ramshackle roof  and rafters agley.

Near your cheerful wall  there was a day 
I do recall   —  rebuke of pain —
When you were more  merry inside
Than now, unsightly   little sty,
When I caught sight  (and sang bright praise)
In your corner there  of a fair face  
A maiden, as noble  a lady can be,
Shapely and lively  she lay with me
Each one's arm   (oh did I love her)
Knotted a bond   about the other
The girl's arm fine  as flurried snow
Pillowed the ear of her praise-poet so
And mine, a simple  trick, I laid
At the cute left ear  of that courtwise maid.
Good times we had   in your greenwood heyday
But no, today  is not that day.

The Ruin Speaks:
"With shelter's magic  moan I do
Bewail the way  the wildwind blew.
Spawned of the east     a stormwind squall
Smacked the stones  of my slender wall.
On wrathful path grim wind groaned 
From the south and turned me  out of a home."

The Poet Speaks
"So it was the late wind wrought such riot?
Well, it gnashed the thatch  of your roof all night.
Ripped your lathing  like a leaf.
The world is always illusion and grief. 
Your corner which gives  my cause to cry
Was once our bed  not a wildhog's sty.
You stood that day  sturdy and stalwart
Snug above  my noble sweetheart
Yet in plain truth,   by Peter, today
You are ravished  of roof and doorway.
Some things cause instant  insanity
Is this smashed shack  some fantasy?"

The Ruin Speaks:
"The household is gone with their livelihood
To the grave, Dafydd. Their lives were good."

The Original:

Yr Adfail

'Tydi, y bwth tinrhwth twn
Rhwng y gweundir a'r gwyndwn,
Gwae a'th weles, dygesynt,
Yn gyfannedd gyntedd gynt,
Ac a'th wŷl heddiw'n friw frig,
Dan dy ais yn dŷ ysig.

A hefyd ger dy hoywfur
Ef a fu ddydd, cerydd cur,
Ynod ydd oedd ddiddanach
Nog yr wyd, y gronglwyd grach,
Pan welais, pefr gludais glod,
Yn dy gongl, un deg yngod,
Forwyn, foneddigfwyn fu,
Hoywdwf yn ymgyhydu,
A braich pob un, cof un fydd,
Yn gwlm amgylch ei gilydd:
Braich meinir, briw awch manod,
Goris clust goreuwas clod,
A'm braich innau, somau syml,
Dan glust asw dyn glwys disyml.
Hawddfyd gan fasw i'th fraswydd,
A heddiw nid ydiw'r dydd'.

   'Ys mau gŵyn, gwirswyn gwersyllt,
Am hynt a wnaeth y gwynt gwyllt.
Ystorm o fynwes dwyrain
A wnaeth cur hyd y mur main.
Uchenaid gwynt, gerrynt gawdd,
Y deau a'm didyawdd'.

    'Ai'r gwynt a wnaeth helynt hwyr?
Da nithiodd dy do neithwyr.
Hagr y torres dy esyth.
Hudol enbyd yw'r byd byth.
Dy gongl, mau ddeongl ddwyoch,
Gwely ym oedd, nid gwâl moch.
Doe'r oeddud mewn gradd addwyn
Yn glyd uwchben fy myd mwyn.
Hawdd o ddadl, heddiw 'dd ydwyd,
Myn Pedr, heb na chledr na chlwyd.
Amryw bwnc ymwnc amwyll.
Ai hwn yw'r bwth twn bath twyll?'

'Aeth talm o waith y teulu,
Dafydd, â chroes. Da foes fu'.

Gwenallt Jones: Wales (From Welsh)

Wales
By Gwenallt Jones
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

Why give us all this misery? The wrack
Of pain on flesh and blood like leaden weight,
Your language on our shoulders like a sack,
And your traditions fetters round our feet?
The canker rots your colors everywhere.
Your soul is scabbed with boils. Your song a scream.
In your own land you are but a nightmare
And your survival but a witch's dream.
Still, we can't leave you in the filth to stand
A generation's laughing-stock and jest.
Your former freedom is our sword in hand,
Your dignity a buckler at our breast.
We'll grip our spears and spur our steeds: go brave
Lest we should shame our fathers in their grave.  

The Original:

Cymru
Gwenallt Jones

Paham y rhoddaist inni'r tristwch hwn,
A'r boen fel pwysau plwm ar gnawd a gwaed?
Dy iaith ar ein hysgwyddau megis pwn,
A'th draddodiadau'n hual am ein traed?
Mae'r cancr yn crino dy holl liw a'th lun,
A'th enaid yn gornwydydd ac yn grach,
Nid wyt ond hunllef yn dy wlad dy hun,
A'th einioes yn y tir ond breuddwyd gwrach.
 Er hyn, ni allwn d'adael yn y baw
Yn sbort a chrechwen i'r genedlaeth hon,
Dy ryddid gynd sydd gleddyf yn ein llaw,
A'th urddas sydd yn astalch ar ein bron,
A chydiwn yn ein gwayw a gyrru'r meirch
Rhag cywilyddio'r tadau yn eu heirch.

Waldo Williams: Wales and Welsh (From Welsh)

Wales and Welsh
By Waldo Williams
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

Here are the mountains. One language alone can raise them
And set them in freedom against a sky of song.
Only one pierced the riches of their poverty,
Through the dream of ages, visions of moment, come and gone.
When through thin air the sun cuts carvings on the rocks,
Strong over a chasm, sure over playgrounds of chance,
I know not how they endure, unless the bounds of time
Bound them in turn, in an eternity of dance. 
Fit home for her, their interpreter! No matter what,
We must claim the place and never ask the price.
She's danger's daughter. Wind whips her path, her foot
Where they of the lower air fell and failed to rise.
Till now she's seen her way far clearer than prophets see.
She'll be as young as ever, as full of devilry.  


This poem alludes obliquely to a poem Aros mae'r mynyddoedd mawr (Still the mighty mountains stay) by the lyricist and poetaster John 'Ceiriog' Hughes. It begins

Still the mighty mountains stay
Still the winds about them roar
Still we hear at break of day
Songs of shepherds as of yore....

The Original:

Cymru a Chymraeg

Dyma’r mynyddoedd. Ni fedr ond un iaith eu codi
A’u rhoi yn eu rhyddid yn erbyn wybren cân.
Ni threiddiodd ond un i oludoedd eu tlodi.
Trwy freuddwyd oesoedd, gweledigaethau munudau mân
Pan ysgythro haul y creigiau drwy'r awyr denau,
Y rhai cryf uwch codwm, y rhai saff ar chwaraele siawns
Ni wn i sut y safant onid terfynau
Amser a'u daliodd yn nhro tragwyddoldeb dawns.
Tŷ teilwng i'w dehonglreg! Ni waeth a hapio
Mae'n rhaid inni hawlio'r preswyl heb holi'r pris.
Merch perygl yw hithau. Ei llwybr y mae'r gwynt yn chwipio,
Ei throed lle diffygiai, lle syrthiai, y rhai o'r awyr is.
Hyd yma hi welodd ei ffordd yn gliriach na phroffwydi.
Bydd hi mor ieuanc ag erioed, mor llawn direidi.

Lera Yanysheva: The Sense of the Father (From Russian Romani)

The Sense of the Father
By Lera Yanysheva
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

(Set in the 1890s)

I grew up in a camp, a traveling Rom.
I'm living in St. Petersburg today,
The city of His Majesty the Tsar.
Is there a finer city? I can't say.

Now Russian gentlemen pay me good money
To entertain them in a restaurant chorus. 
The good Lord even blessed me with good daughters
Born in the moneyed home I had built for us.

My daughters grew and blossomed into beauties.
The men went crazy for them at a glance.
The Russian soul finds freedom in a gypsy song
And nobody could dance like my girls danced. 

Then a disaster. My own blood betrayed me.
Now I'm afraid to bloody show my face.
Those two sang their last number to run off
With noble "men" and dropped me in disgrace.

They will give birth — good Lord — to halfblood freaks.
In camp they say that I have sold myself. 
"Too good for us" they stab me as they speak
"But couldn't join the gadjo gents. Well, well..."

It's true...I live a Russian gadjo life.
Where's my Romanipen? My free Rom will?
Those stupid girls have done a number on me.
But I was blessed with one more daughter still.

My Masha — a real Romni of the tents!
Thinking of her, my heart is melted snow. 
She stopped by yesterday, a traveling Rom.
It truly warmed my eyes to see her so

With her red coral beads, her well-worn blouse, 
The headscarf that a proper wife should wear,
Her ear-rings and her flower-pattern skirt. 
The day was cold...and yet her feet were bare!  

The horse-monger I gave her to appraised her,
Knowing she was a towngirl. Didn't care! 
Just said "she's pretty as a doll" and took her
To a kept life of tents and open air. 

No poshness for my Masha. Woods and roads...
She'll learn to work the cards, tell fortunes well.  
She'll bear him children, and they will be men
Who profit by the horses that they sell. 

Nobody wants a towngirl in their family.
I had to cut a deal with an old friend of mine.  
He took the gamble, and became her in-law. 
So now my son-in-law keeps her in line.

A father knows much better than his daughters. 
My Masha sobbed. But she had best make do.
She will not be some lordly Russian's tramp.
She lives the way the good Lord willed her to.


Stanza 2

One is, I think, to understand that the man is not actually wealthy by the standards of the Russian ruling class. Rather, he is unusually wealthy for a Rom.

Stanza 3:

L3, literally reads quite simply "the gadje want/love Romani songs." My translation, which makes explicit a bit of what I think implicit, is rather circumlocutory. It seemed called for, given that an English-speaking reader might not necessarily be aware of the role "gypsy songs" have had in Russian culture. Yanysheva self-translates this line in Russian as им песня вольная — отрада для душы "To them [Russian gentry], the free-[spirited] song is a joy to the soul."

Stanza 6

Romanipen: a key concept of Rom culture. (Also known as: Romanimos, Romanija, Romanšago.) This is not necessarily a matter of ancestry, so much as how one behaves, how one lives, and what one does. The quality of being in touch with Rom ways.

Stanza 8

On the phrase "de šatra rogožîtko" (into a burlap tent) c.f. the song which begins, in one version:

Aj de šatrica rogožîtko
Ande šatrica čaj bidîtko.
(Oh in a little burlap tent, in the little tent is a hapless girl.)


The Original:

Дадэ́скири ду́ма
Лера Янышева

Семьяке Панково, дэ лэнгири патыв

Нэ, бияндёмпэ мэ дрэ та́боро баро,
Тэ акана до Петербу́рго мэ джива́ва.
Одо́й дживэл тага́ри кокоро!
А сы ли фо́ро гожэды́р? Мэ на джина́ва.

Рая плэски́рна ма́нгэ бут ловэ.
Ваш господэ́нгэ мэ до хо́ро багандём,
Лаче чяен дыя мангэ Дэвэл.
Мэ кхэр ваш се́мья барвало киндём.

Выбаринэ сыр цвэ́тицы чяя,
Пал лэ́ндэ о барэ рая мэрэ́нас.
Гадже камэ́на романэ гиля.
Фэдыр сарэ́ндыр о чяя кхэлэ́нас.

Э би́да подгэя! Ёнэ́ жэ рат миро!
Да мэ о штэ́то пэ́скэ на латха́вас…
Добагандлэ́пэс! Сыр же ладжяво!
Екх палэ екх э госпадэ́нца упраста́нас.

Авэ́на чяворэ — мэём! — по паш гадже.
О та́борна мурша ґара амэн обкха́рна:
«Шатра́тыр угэнэ, а кэ рая на пригэнэ́!
Тумэ пэс бикиндлэ», — ёнэ́ лавэ́са ма́рна.        

Аи́. Гаджиканэс дживав дэ фо́ро мэ.
Кай сы романыпэ? Кай во́ля романы?
Скэрдэ пэ ма́ндэ би́да — дылынэ…
Пэ бахт, сы ма́ндэ три́то чяёри́.

Вот мири Ма́шка — ёй шатры́тко чяй.
Коли мэ зрипирав, ило татёла.
Сыр атася ромэ́са ёй явья,
Пэ ла́тэ мэ дыкхав — якха хачёна!

Лолэ кора́ли, ко́фта риськирды,
Тэ романы пэ ла́тэ цо́ха оборкэ́нца.
Сы шылало — а ёй сы пиранги —
Барэ ченя, фарту́шка узоркэ́нца.

Пал кофари́стэ чяёрья мэ отдыём,
Лыя ла ром — хоть Ма́шка сыс фори́тко,
«Сави раны, — пхэндя, — сыр ку́кла ёй!»
Ёй лэ́са угэя дэ ша́тра рогожы́тко.

На ба́рско джиипэ! Дрома, вэша…
И пэ патря ёй тэ чюрдэл джинэ́ла.
Авэна ла́кирэ чявэ сарэ мурша,
Э грэн тэ парувэн ёнэ́ авэ́на!

Доракирдёмпэ пхуранэ друго́са,
Фори́тко чя никон дэ се́мья на камэн.
А ёв на да́рлас — ёв явья свато́са,
Тэй адава чяво́ ла стро́го рикирэл!

Кай бахт — дада́ фэдыр чяен джинэ́на.
Рундя э Ма́ша — мэк — присыклыя!
Тэ акана гаджи ёй на авэ́ла.
Дживэ́ла ёй сыр Дэвлоро пхэндя…

Dadéskiri Dúma
Lera Janîševa

Semjake Pankovo, de lengiri patîv.

Ne, bijandjom-pe me dre táboro baro,
Te akana do Peterbúrgo me dživava.
Odoj dživel tagári kokoro!
A sî li fóro gožedîr? Me na džinava.

Raja pleskírna mánge but love.
Vaš gospodénge me do xóro bagandjom,
Lače čajen dîjá mánge Devel.
Me kher vaš sémja barvalo kindjom.

Vîbariné sîr cvéticî čaja,
Pal lénde o bare raja merénas.
Gadže kaména romane gilja.
Fedîr saréndîr o čaja khelénas.

E bída podgeja! Jone že rat miro!
Da me o štéto péske na lathávas...
Dobagandle-pes! Sîr že ladžavo!
Jekh pale jekh e gospodénca uprastánas.

Avéna čavore — mejom! — po paš gadže.
O táborna murša ghara amen obkhárna:
"Šatrátîr ugene, a ke raja na prigene!
Tume pes bikindle" — jone lavésa márna.

Ai. Gadžikanes dživav de fóro me.
Kaj sî Romanîpe? Kaj vólja Romanî?
Skerde pe mánde bida — dîlîné...
Pe baxt, sî mánde tríto čajori.

Vot miri Máška — joj šatrîtko čaj.
Koli me zripirav, ilo tatjóla.
Sîr atasja romésa joj javja,
Pe láte me dîkháv — jakha xačóna!

Lole koráli, kófta risjkirdî,
Te romanî pe láte cóxa oborkénca.
Sî šîlaló — a joj sî pirangi —
Bare čenja, fartúška uzorkénca.

Pal kofaríste čajorja me otdîjóm,
Lîjá la rom — xotj Maška sîs forítko,
"Savi ranî" phendja "sîr kúkla joj!"
Joj lésa ugeja de šátra rogožîtko.

Na bársko džiipe! Droma, veša...
I pe patrja joj te čurdel džinéla.
Avéna lákire čave sare murša,
E gren te paruven jone avéna!

Dorakirdjóm-pe phurane drugósa,
Forítko ča nikon de sémja na kamén.
A jov na dárlas — jov javja svatósa,
Tej adava čavo la strógo rikirel!

Kaj baxt — dada fedîr čajen džinéna.
Rundja e Maša — mek — prisîklîjá!
Te akana gadži joj ne avéla.
Dživéla joj sîr Devloro phendja...




Rajko Đurić: The Moon (From Romani)

The Moon
By Rajko Đurić
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

The moon laughs
we
around the fire
weep
The sobs rise
the laugh descends. 
The firmament smells of weeping
we, of laughter
If the moon loses her sight
and our eyes open wide,
Who then will be able to tell
where the wing of weeping
and the wing of laughing
meet.

The Original:

O Ćhonut

O ćhonut asal
amen
trujal e jag
rovas
O rovipe urăvel
o asape mekhlŏl tele
O d'el khandel p-o rovipe
amen p-o asape
Te o ćhonut rorravòla
te amen dikhàsa
kon vakarèla
Kaj e phak rovimasqe
thaj e asamasqe
ka arakhandon

Grahame Davies: Berlin (From Welsh)

Berlin
By Grahame Davies
Translated by A.Z. Foreman
Click to hear me read the original Welsh

Sgt. Nikolai Masalov saved a girl's life on April 28, 1945, during the Battle of Berlin. After the war, a statue recording the event was erected in Treptower Park.

We heard her voice amid the sound of guns
As we were advancing on the Reichstag,
With Nazi bullets chewing up the bridge's statues and our company's cover. 
Then, through the smoke, we saw her, a three-year-old German girl
crying out amid the troops, beside her mother's corpse.

I was not a bronze man at the time
when I jumped off that bridge into the river,
with Fascists' bullets thrashing up the water around me.
I was much uglier than the dapper statue
After I'd dragged back through the mud and oil of the river Spree
With the girl in my arms.

Many times I've been asked: why.

At the time, it was instinct:
Rescuing a child was as natural as killing an enemy.

Now that both Reich and Soviets have receded like the smoke of battle, 
I see that succor and corpses aren't equivalent,
And that the moment, selfless, remains as bronze:
The killer still gun-free, his own salvation in his arms.


The Original:

Berlin
Grahame Davies

(Y Rhingyll Nikolai Masalov. Achubodd Masalov fywyd yr eneth ar. Ebrill 28, 1945, yn ystod y frwydr am Berlin. Wedi’r rhyfel, codwyd cerflun ym Mharc Treptower i gofnodi’r digwyddiad.)

Clywsom ei llais rhwng sŵn y gynnau,
wrth inni nesau at y Reichstag,
a bwledi’r Natsïaid yn cnoi cerfluniau’r bont a lochesai’n cwmni.
Wedyn, drwy’r mwg, fe welsom hi, Almaenes deirblwydd oed
yn llefain rhwng y lluoedd, wrth ochr celain ei mam.

Nid dyn o efydd oeddwn ar y pryd,
wrth neidio’r bont i’r afon,
a bwledi’r Ffasgwyr yn ffustio’r dwr o’m hamgylch.
A llawer mwy diolwg oeddwn na’r cerflun trwsiadus
wedi imi lusgo ‘nôl drwy laid ac olew’r Spree
a’r ferch yn fy mreichiau.

Droeon fe ofynnwyd imi, pam.

Ar y pryd, greddf ydoedd:
roedd achub plentyn mor naturiol â lladd gelyn.

Erbyn hyn, a Reich a Sofiet wedi cilio fel mwg y frwydr,
fe welaf nad cyfwerth celanedd ac ymgeledd,
ac mai’r ennyd anhunanol a erys fel efydd:
y lladdwr di-ddryll yn dal, yn ei freichiau, ei achubiaeth ef ei hun.

Lera Yanysheva: Stone Children (From Lovara Romani)

Stone Children
By Lera Yanysheva
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

It hurts. It's crushing me. Forgive me. Please.   
How can you have just left me all at once?
I didn't know I would give death to you.
Oh God what have I done? Forgive me, sons.

My sons, they've paid for sins that I committed.
Gone through agony because of me. 
I wanted the fine life, the house, the money.
Some other Lovara live in luxury....

I wanted you to not want for a thing,
A fortune to keep my boys set for life. 
So I went and sold my soul to a foul man
And started selling heroin as a wife. 

What good is all this money to me now? 
Oh Christ! What have they gone and done? Why, those
Boys knew exactly where to score some smack. 
They shot each other up and overdosed.

I bought them this luxurious monument.
This is the marble that they sleep below.
I had to bury you, my boys, my babies.
Fortune and fine life left me long ago.

Standing and staring at the iron crosses
I've locked my heart and blown away the keys.
You were so lively, boys. Now you're all stone.
It hurts. It's crushing me. Forgive me. Please.

The Original:

Барунэ щавора

Мангэ пхаро-й…Чак эртэчия мэ манглэм….
Состар гэлан-тар — мангэ-й э гэчина,
Кэ щявора мэрэна — чи жянглэм!
Со мэ кэрдэм? Мангав мэ эртэчия.

Лэ бэзэха мурэ са потиндэ лэ щавора,
Лэ щявора пал мандэ кинозынас.
Камос ви мэ о сумнакай тай лэ кхэра,
Лэ авэра ловара барвалэс траинас.

Э бахт тумэнгэ тэ кэрав камлэм,
Дэ сар барвалипэ лэ щяворэнгэ тэ рэсав?
Лэ бивужэскэ ди мэ бикиндэм,
Кэздысардэм дылэ драба мэ тэ бикнав.

Пэ сос, ромалэ, мангэ сумнакай?
О Свунто драго Дэл! Со вон кэрдэ?
Вон аракхлэ драба, кэ жяннас — кай,
Эк лэ каврэс кодол драбэнца пусадэ.

Мурмунцы лэнгэ барвалэ мэ кэрадэм,
Са андо мраморо лэ щявора совэн.
Яй, драги — мэ тумэн прахосардэм,
Ай бахт тай траё мандар дур нашэ́н.

Тай сар дыкхав мэ трушула лэ саструнэ,
Муро йило пэ кия пхандадэм.
Щявэ сас жювиндэ, дэ аканик-и барунэ!
Мангэ пхаро́-й…Чак эртэчия мэ манглэм…
Barune Šavora

Mánge pharo-i...čak ertećíja mǝ manglem...
Sóstar gelántar — mánge-i e gečína,
Ke śavora meréna — ći źaglem!
So mǝ kerdem? Mangav mǝ ertećíja...

Le bezexa mure sa potinde le śavora,
Le śavora pal mánde kinozînas.
Kamos vi mǝ o sumnakaj taj le khērá,
Le avera Lovára barvales trajínas.

E baxt tuménge te kerav kamlem,
De sar barvalipe le śavorénge te resav?
Le bivužéske di mǝ bikindem,
Kezdîsardém dîlé draba mǝ te biknav.

Pe sos, Romále, mánge sumnakaj?
O Svúnto drágo Del! So von kerde?
Von arakhle draba, ke źānás kāj,
Ek le kavres kodol drabénca pusade.

Murmúncî lénge barvale mǝ keradem,
Sa ándo mrámoro le śavora soven.
Jaj, drági — mǝ tumen praxosardem,
Aj baxt taj trájo mándar dur našen.

Taj sar dîkháv mǝ trušula le sastrune,
Muro jilo pe kíja phandadem.
Śave sas źuvinde, de akanik-i barune!
Mánge pharó-i...Čak ertećíja mǝ manglem...

Bible: David's Lament (From Hebrew)

The books of Samuel are beset with textual problems. The texts we have are in several places quite corrupt. To me it seems fairly likely that we do not have the "original" text of this poem, nor will we ever. In such circumstances, the translator of biblical literature is stuck between a Rock and a God Place, between having to choose among a dizzying array of possible emendations and paleographic possibilities, or trying to deal with the text as it now is.

I would have liked to be able to accept with confidence the radical emendations proposed by some. For example, those of Hollyday in Form and Word-Play in David's Lament over Saul and Jonathan if for no other reason than that some of his propositions make for interesting poetry. Hollyday and Gurvitz take the entire song to start one line earlier, and emend 2 Sam 1:18 with this in mind. Hollyday for example proposes יְלַל מַר בְּכֵי יְהוּדָה קְשַׁת נְהִי סְפֹד לְיָשָׁר ("A howling bitter weep, O Judah! Pangs of a wailing dirge for the upright man!")

Such proposals, though not by any means implausible, don't strike me as very convincing in their totality. The text I give is the Masoretic text. My translation, however, reflects some emendations (for example "the square" of Gath here.)

My reading of lines 1 and 23 here is quite at odds with the traditional reading (most translations begin with something more like "Glory O Israel likes slain on your heights.") At issue is the fraught and labyrinthine question of what במה actually means. My approach basically follows from the data given and conclusions drawn by W. Boyd Barrick in BMH as Body Language:  A Lexical and Iconographical Study of the Word BMH When Not a Reference to Cultic Phenomena in Biblical and Post-Biblical Hebrew. I take במה, when not referring to a cultic site, to have a primarily anatomical sense — as it does elsewhere in Semitic. This poem is actually used as the locus probans for reading the word as meaning "hill." But this seems untenable for reasons Barrick lays out.

David's Lament 
(From 2 Samuel 1:19-27)
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

Gazelle of Israel
 slain on your back! 
 How the heroes have fallen!

Don't speak of it in the squares of Gath
Don't spread the news in the streets of Ashkelon
Or the daughters of the Philistines  will rejoice 
Or the daughters of the ungodly  will gloat

  Mountains of Gilboa!
Be there no dew nor rain on you
And on your slopes  no fertile field!
For there was the shield  of heroes defiled
The shield of Saul no more anointed
From blood of the slain from the breast of the foe
The bow of Jonathan never recoiled
The blade of Saul never returned undyed

Jonathan and Saul beloved men
Dearly beloved  in life they were
Inseparable so  in death they are
Swifter than eagles stronger than lions

Now daughters of Israel weep for Saul 
Who clothed you in scarlet  who robed you in finery
Who adorned all the folds  of your garments with gold

How the heroes are fallen  in the thick of battle
Jonathan laid low slain on your back!

Oh I grieve for you  Jonathan, brother
Dear to me you were, and for me
More wonderful your love than the love of women

How the heroes have fallen 
How the arms of war are lost! 

The Original:



שיר הקשת

הַצְּבִי יִשְׂרָאֵל עַל-בָּמוֹתֶיךָ חָלָל
אֵיךְ נָפְלוּ גִבּוֹרִים

אַל-תַּגִּידוּ בְגַת
אַל-תְּבַשְּׂרוּ בְּחוּצֹת אַשְׁקְלוֹן
פֶּן-תִּשְׂמַחְנָה בְּנוֹת פְּלִשְׁתִּים
פֶּן-תַּעֲלֹזְנָה בְּנוֹת הָעֲרֵלִים

הָרֵי בַגִּלְבֹּעַ
אַל-טַל וְאַל-מָטָר עֲלֵיכֶם
וּשְׂדֵי תְרוּמֹת
כִּי שָׁם נִגְעַל מָגֵן גִּבּוֹרִים
מָגֵן שָׁאוּל בְּלִי מָשִׁיחַ בַּשָּׁמֶן
מִדַּם חֲלָלִים מֵחֵלֶב גִּבּוֹרִים
קֶשֶׁת יְהוֹנָתָן לֹא נָשׂוֹג אָחוֹר
וְחֶרֶב שָׁאוּל לֹא תָשׁוּב רֵיקָם

שָׁאוּל וִיהוֹנָתָן
הַנֶּאֱהָבִים וְהַנְּעִימִם בְּחַיֵּיהֶם
וּבְמוֹתָם לֹא נִפְרָדוּ
מִנְּשָׁרִים קַלּוּ
מֵאֲרָיוֹת גָּבֵרוּ

בְּנוֹת יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶל-שָׁאוּל בְּכֶינָה
הַמַּלְבִּשְׁכֶם שָׁנִי עִם-עֲדָנִים
הַמַּעֲלֶה עֲדִי זָהָב עַל לְבוּשְׁכֶן

אֵיךְ נָפְלוּ גִבֹּרִים בְּתוֹךְ הַמִּלְחָמָה
יְהוֹנָתָן עַל-בָּמוֹתֶיךָ חָלָל

צַר-לִי עָלֶיךָ אָחִי יְהוֹנָתָן
נָעַמְתָּ לִּי מְאֹד
נִפְלְאַתָה אַהֲבָתְךָ לִי
מֵאַהֲבַת נָשִׁים

אֵיךְ נָפְלוּ גִבּוֹרִים
וַיֹּאבְדוּ כְּלֵי מִלְחָמָה

Bialik: Just a Ray (From Hebrew)

Just A Single Ray
By Haim Nachman Bialik
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

Just a single ray of sun upon you,
And you grew to glory, rose near-divine.
One ray unfurled your lure, your flesh
And you ripened like a fruited vine.

Just a single night of storm in spoil
Has ravished your flush and bud away.
In your lime beauty vile dogs afar
Can smell your cadaverous decay.


The Original:

רַק קַו-שֶׁמֶשׁ אֶחָד עֲבָרֵךְ,
וּפִתְאֹם רוֹמַמְתְּ וְגָדָלְתְּ;
וַיְפַתַּח חֶמְדָּתֵךְ וּבְשָׂרֵךְ,
וּכְגֶפֶן פֹּרִיָּה בָּשָׁלְתְּ.

וְרַק סַעַר לֵיל אֶחָד עֲבָרֵךְ,
וַיַּחְמֹס אֶת-בִּסְרֵךְ, נִצָּתֵךְ;
וּכְלָבִים נְבָלִים בַּהֲדָרֵךְ
יָרִיחוּ מֵרָחוֹק נִבְלָתֵךְ –

Bialik: Stars Flicker (From Hebrew)

Stars Flicker
By Haim Nachman Bialik
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

Stars flicker and go out.
Men in the dark decay.
In my heart and everywhere
See the dark take sway. 

Dreams sparkle and fade out.
Hearts flower and decay.
In my heart and everywhere
See the ruins splay. 

Everyone prays for the light. 
Their lips rot as they pray. 
This is a tired old tale
Repeated every which way. 

How slow the nights drag! Not even 

The broken moon can stay
Without yawning wearily,
Waiting in slumber for day. 

The Original:


כוכבים מציצים
חיים נחמן ביאליק

כּוֹכָבִים מְצִיצִים וְכָבִים,
וַאֲנָשִׁים בַּחֲשֵׁכָה נְמַקִּים;
הַבִּיטָה בַכֹּל וּבִלְבָבִי –
מַחֲשַׁכִּים, יְדִידִי, מַחֲשַׁכִּים.

וְנוֹצְצִים חֲלֹמוֹת וְנוֹבְלִים,
וּפוֹרְחִים וּרְקֵבִים לְבָבוֹת;
הַבִּיטָה בַכֹּל וּבִלְבָבִי –
חֳרָבוֹת, יְדִידִי, חֳרָבוֹת.

וְהַכֹּל מִתְפַּלְּלִים לְאוֹרָה,
וְנֹבְלוֹת שְׂפָתַיִם בִּתְפִלָּה;
וִיגֵעִים הַדְּבָרִים וַאֲרֻכִּים,
וְהֵם נִשְׁנִים וְחוֹזְרִים חֲלִילָה.
וְהַלֵּילוֹת – הוֹי, כַּמָּה עֲצֵלִים!
אֲפִלּוּ הַלְּבָנָה הַפְּגוּמָה –
גַּם-הִיא מְפַהֶקֶת עֲיֵפָה
וּמְצַפָּה לַיּוֹם מִתּוֹךְ תְּנוּמָה
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