Help with poem translation/proofreading
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18-03-2014, 05:59 PM
Help with poem translation/proofreading
I've just finished translating one of my favorite poems from Greek to English. I'm not a professional translator, but I'm hoping to be one!

I need some help with:

-Possible syntax/grammar errors (I had to use a lot of words I'm not familiar with so there may be quite a lot of them)

-Feedback on whether it makes sense, if the figures of speech are correct and if anything rings wrong.

-Feedback on whether the images are "clear", if you can understand what it's trying to say and if you can see the cultural, social and political context.

-Recommendations for better use of words/expressions.

-Notes on figures of speech/words/phrases that you are not sure whether they are trying to convey something.

Now, some background. The poem was written by Yannis Ritsos, a Greek poet and left-wing activist and an active member of the Greek Resistance during World War II (Wikipedia Tongue )

His works were burned during the dictatorship as he was a supporter of the Greek Communist Party and he spent some time in exile in a prison camp.

In this poem, he talks about the duty of poets, which, according to him, is to be present, to be conscious of your social and political environment and not to focus on beauty, style and structure alone. Poets should be active and "fight" with their poems, they have a duty to their fellow men and to society.

It's a bit long, so I'll put it here:

The poet's duty

Many poems are rivers.
Others are little flowers in a night plain.
Others are like stones that build nothing.

Many verses are like soldiers ready for battle.
Others like deserters hidden behind the blossomed trees.
Others like unknown soldiers who have no face.

Many poems shout loudly with no sound/without being heard/unable to be heard.
Others remain silent with their arms crossed.
Others are crucified and speak from the cross.

Many verses are like tools.
Rusty tools, thrown to the earth/soil.
and others, new ones, working the earth/soil.

Many poems are like weapons -
weapons thrown to the earth/soil
and weapons aimed at the enemy's heart.

Many verses stand behind silence
like the pale children behind the windows of an orphanage -
they look far away, through the rain - they don't know what to do, where to go.

Many poems are like trees
Others like cypresses in a sunset of grief
Others like fruit trees in a kolkhoz.

Many verses are like doors -
closed doors in abandoned houses
and doors opened to meek, spotless souls.

There are also black doors burned in a fire,
and others blown up by an explosion
and others carrying a killed comrade.

There are poems that gallop through time
like Smirnenski's red cavalry
horsemen poems, who leave the reins and grab the mattock.

Many poems kneel in the middle of the street,
many idle poems with rough hands,
many laborer poems that go a thousand times beyond their norm.

There are verses like lace around the girls' necks
or like ring stones with little secret figurations
and others that fly and sway high like vigorous flags.

Many poems stay out in the wilderness late at night -
wetting the four toes of their verses in a stream every now and then,
then they disappear daydreaming in the forest and never come back.

Many verses are like silver threads
tied on the chimes of the stars-
if you pull them, a silver peal makes the horizon vibrate.

Many poems sink inside their own brilliance,
proud poems; they don't condescend to say anything.
I know of many poems that drowned in the golden well of the moon.

A proper poem never lingers in the corner of a musing.
It is always on time, like the conscious, eager worker
it is a primed/fit/prepared soldier, present in the first call of his age.

Sometimes poets resemble birds in the forest of time,
Baudelair's albatrosses, Poe's ravens,
sometimes sparrows in the snow or eagles, high on the steep Ideals.

There are also beautiful poems, like the Glukhars -
in May and April, they drown in their own love song
the drown in their melody and lose their hearing.

In May and April at dawn
amid the crystal dew of the forest
the hunters come out with their rifles and the Glukhars can't hear them.

Keep an eye, fellow poets, my brothers,
let us keep our ears set on the glass of silence, -
the steps of the enemy and the friend are similar in the dim light of the forest. We must discern.

Keep an eye, fellow poets, so that we won't sink in our song
so that we won't be unprepared when the big time comes,
- a poet is present on the first call of his age.

Otherwise, our songs will be left over the stairs of centuries
stuffed, beautiful and useless birds like those Glukhars
black and blue, amid the royal vestibules of Bistrica

Like those Glukhars, with their two wings crossed,
silent, mournful, stuffed - decorations for foreign palaces -
with their eyes like two futile round questions under their red brows.

Keep an eye, fellow poets, - a poet
is a worker on his post, a soldier on his shift,
a responsible leader before the democratic armies of his verses.

Notes

-The red parts are obviously where I can't decide which word to use
-I wasn't sure about whether I should capitalize and/or translate "Glukhars" because it's kind of a cultural thing, bearing his communism and the Russian words he uses in mind ("Capercaillie" is the translation I think)
-There's no rhyme or meter in the original, it's more like prose, so no need for anything like that

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18-03-2014, 09:59 PM
RE: Help with poem translation/proofreading
(18-03-2014 05:59 PM)undergroundp Wrote:  I've just finished translating one of my favorite poems from Greek to English. I'm not a professional translator, but I'm hoping to be one!

I need some help with:

-Possible syntax/grammar errors (I had to use a lot of words I'm not familiar with so there may be quite a lot of them)

-Feedback on whether it makes sense, if the figures of speech are correct and if anything rings wrong.

-Feedback on whether the images are "clear", if you can understand what it's trying to say and if you can see the cultural, social and political context.

-Recommendations for better use of words/expressions.

-Notes on figures of speech/words/phrases that you are not sure whether they are trying to convey something.

Now, some background. The poem was written by Yannis Ritsos, a Greek poet and left-wing activist and an active member of the Greek Resistance during World War II (Wikipedia Tongue )

His works were burned during the dictatorship as he was a supporter of the Greek Communist Party and he spent some time in exile in a prison camp.

In this poem, he talks about the duty of poets, which, according to him, is to be present, to be conscious of your social and political environment and not to focus on beauty, style and structure alone. Poets should be active and "fight" with their poems, they have a duty to their fellow men and to society.

It's a bit long, so I'll put it here:

The poet's duty

Many poems are rivers.
Others are little flowers in a night plain.
Others are like stones that build nothing.

Many verses are like soldiers ready for battle.
Others like deserters hidden behind the blossomed trees.
Others like unknown soldiers who have no face.

Many poems shout loudly with no sound/without being heard/unable to be heard.
Others remain silent with their arms crossed.
Others are crucified and speak from the cross.

Many verses are like tools.
Rusty tools, thrown to the earth/soil.
and others, new ones, working the earth/soil.

Many poems are like weapons -
weapons thrown to the earth/soil
and weapons aimed at the enemy's heart.

Many verses stand behind silence
like the pale children behind the windows of an orphanage -
they look far away, through the rain - they don't know what to do, where to go.

Many poems are like trees
Others like cypresses in a sunset of grief
Others like fruit trees in a kolkhoz.

Many verses are like doors -
closed doors in abandoned houses
and doors opened to meek, spotless souls.

There are also black doors burned in a fire,
and others blown up by an explosion
and others carrying a killed comrade.

There are poems that gallop through time
like Smirnenski's red cavalry
horsemen poems, who leave the reins and grab the mattock.

Many poems kneel in the middle of the street,
many idle poems with rough hands,
many laborer poems that go a thousand times beyond their norm.

There are verses like lace around the girls' necks
or like ring stones with little secret figurations
and others that fly and sway high like vigorous flags.

Many poems stay out in the wilderness late at night -
wetting the four toes of their verses in a stream every now and then,
then they disappear daydreaming in the forest and never come back.

Many verses are like silver threads
tied on the chimes of the stars-
if you pull them, a silver peal makes the horizon vibrate.

Many poems sink inside their own brilliance,
proud poems; they don't condescend to say anything.
I know of many poems that drowned in the golden well of the moon.

A proper poem never lingers in the corner of a musing.
It is always on time, like the conscious, eager worker
it is a primed/fit/prepared soldier, present in the first call of his age.

Sometimes poets resemble birds in the forest of time,
Baudelair's albatrosses, Poe's ravens,
sometimes sparrows in the snow or eagles, high on the steep Ideals.

There are also beautiful poems, like the Glukhars -
in May and April, they drown in their own love song
the drown in their melody and lose their hearing.

In May and April at dawn
amid the crystal dew of the forest
the hunters come out with their rifles and the Glukhars can't hear them.

Keep an eye, fellow poets, my brothers,
let us keep our ears set on the glass of silence, -
the steps of the enemy and the friend are similar in the dim light of the forest. We must discern.

Keep an eye, fellow poets, so that we won't sink in our song
so that we won't be unprepared when the big time comes,
- a poet is present on the first call of his age.

Otherwise, our songs will be left over the stairs of centuries
stuffed, beautiful and useless birds like those Glukhars
black and blue, amid the royal vestibules of Bistrica

Like those Glukhars, with their two wings crossed,
silent, mournful, stuffed - decorations for foreign palaces -
with their eyes like two futile round questions under their red brows.

Keep an eye, fellow poets, - a poet
is a worker on his post, a soldier on his shift,
a responsible leader before the democratic armies of his verses.

Notes

-The red parts are obviously where I can't decide which word to use
-I wasn't sure about whether I should capitalize and/or translate "Glukhars" because it's kind of a cultural thing, bearing his communism and the Russian words he uses in mind ("Capercaillie" is the translation I think)
-There's no rhyme or meter in the original, it's more like prose, so no need for anything like that

Red words I would go with

1:Earth
2:Soil
3:Earth
4: Ready

(31-07-2014 04:37 PM)Luminon Wrote:  America is full of guns, but they're useless, because nobody has the courage to shoot an IRS agent in self-defense
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18-03-2014, 10:16 PM
RE: Help with poem translation/proofreading
I like earth, soil, earth, prepared.

*edit* actually I do like ready seems like a good word for a soldier.

Swing with me a while, we can listen to the birds call, we can keep each other warm.
Swing with me forever, we can count up every flower, we can weather every storm.
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18-03-2014, 10:44 PM
RE: Help with poem translation/proofreading
1. earth
2. soil
3. ground
4. a soldier at attention

“I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man’s reasoning powers are not above the monkey’s.”~Mark Twain
“Ocean: A body of water occupying about two-thirds of a world made for man - who has no gills.”~ Ambrose Bierce
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19-03-2014, 01:22 PM
RE: Help with poem translation/proofreading
Id say:

1. earth
2. soil
3. ground
4. a soldier ready

Only thing i would change is the this: Many poems shout loudly with no voice

The requirement of evidence to back your claim does not disappear because it hurts your feelings, reality does not care about your feefees.
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