Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Lost in Translation

(on hearing poetry in Finnish)

Language takes me to
a land of lakes

trees

space


cold beauty

soundscape it’s own meaning
translation can only betray.

25 comments:

daisies said...

lovely .. i love the spacing and that last line is so true ...

Rose Dewy Knickers said...

Hi Crafty,

Translations can give you the structure but not the essence. And poetry is all about the essence.

Rose

xo

Writer on Board said...

Juliet,

In the U.S. we have a very popular butter called Land O Lakes and I couldn't help but have that image pop up in my head. So except for the butter, I really like the "cold beauty" of your poem.

Writer on Board said...

http://www.landolakes.com/mealideas/index.cfm

Tinamtl said...

Pretty

...deb said...

You've created a wonderfully concise (rich in its spareness) experience around the sound and texture of a poem. Very cool.

Beloved Dreamer said...

Like reading a favorite author in another language, all translations should be by the same person or nothing has meaning. Very neet.

love-bd

Beloved Dreamer said...

Sorry, hit wrong key. I meant "neat"

bd

gautami tripathy said...

Sometimes translations do work or how else do we get to read some great poets?

I like the structure of this poem.

January said...

Great poem. I love "cold beauty." And as much as I like translations, something is betrayed when it's reinterpreted.

Crafty Green Poet said...

Daisies - thanks

Rose - yes I think essence is often lost.

writer on board - i like random connections like this! Thanks!

Beloved dreamer - often though the author can't do the translation him/herself.

Gautami - of course and I've read some amazing translations of German poetry recently, stunning (very faithful to the original but also working as excellent poetry in English). This poem is quite old and was written in response to a reading of poetry in Finnish and English translation. A lot of poetry translation loses a lot of the essence to requote Rose.

January- I love translations of novels that I can't read in the original language. If I can read in the original language that's what I prefer to do. Though sometimes I'll read the English then the original.

Beth said...

This gives me something to think about. Very thought provoking!

GreenishLady said...

I love to hear poetry read in languages that I don't understand. - You can really hear the music of it. I think translation is a very particular skill and art in itself, and sometimes the poet is not at all the best person to translate their own work (and I know Irish language poets who agree).

Crafty Green Poet said...

Greenish Lady - I agree, certainly the poet would need to be totally fluent in both languages to even have a chance. Some writers have tranlsated their own work well but yes you're totally right, translation is a very particualr skill.

Beth - glad you found it thought provoking thanks!

paris parfait said...

Beautiful and you're absolutely right - sometimes the meaning to you isn't necessarily the exact translation - but it feels right and that makes it so.

Regina Clare Jane said...

There's something very transcendant about poetry- its ryhthms and rhymes. No need for translation- it just is!

Tammy said...

I loved how you used soundscape. The last two lines are so true. :)

bookbinds said...

It is so true how translations in poetry are particularly difficult because the syntax of every line and the rhythm and sounds of words are just as important as their meaning. I loved the line, "cold beauty". There was something about the starkness and scarcity of this poem which really worked.

sister AE said...

I like this. It first made me wonder what my poems would sound like in another language.

I usually spend a great deal of time finding JUST the right word, one with both the right meaning and the right sound and cadence. Would how would the translator choose?

Then I realized that even when someone reads my poems in English, they are still translating - into his or her own experiences.

[and thanks for the comment on my villanelle - I am starting to feel better.]

Tracie Lyn Huskamp said...

this is SO VERY TRUE... listening to another language can REALLy take tranport you to another place or time.

Translations NEVER seem to do the context justice when it crosses such a barrier.

Remiman said...

Juliet,
sorry, I'm late to the party, and so can add nothing of import to this discussion. That said; I'm glad you have given us fodder to ponder when looking at foriegn words.
rel

KG said...

It's so wonderful that you were able to let go of the words' meanings and instead enjoy the music, the poetry, of their sounds.

Reminds me that poetry is wonderful when read, but often more powerful when heard read aloud.

chicklegirl said...

This poem made me think of how in college I had a Spanish teacher who was Finnish, so at first I learned Spanish with a Finnish accent.

But I like that you captured that the universality of spoken poetry is lyricism, which has a transcendent power.

annie said...

very nice, sort of a tanka feel to it thanks to it's brevity and imagery.

Marcia (MeeAugraphie) said...

I liked the way you presented your thoughts. I have never known another language fluently enough to trust a translation to be as the original poet intended, but the sound of poetry is another thing.