משני הצדדים | ויויאן אדן

APOLOGY                 With thanks to H.H.B.

And to you just men, who tried to acquit me:
before I go off to the place I must die
while those others are busy we still have time
to chat and exchange our fantasies
handling death like a painted egg
blown and adorned with figures from life
passed on and on to the man on the right
each finger smudging a fainter edge
as the membrane circles around
— counter in some puzzling game —
’til the colors wear out and we see within
the treasure even a king can't hoard:
that long, single night emptied of dreams.

Good friends, I thank you. Let it begin.

ויויאן אדן, ילידת ארה”ב. תושבת ירושלים זה שנים רבות. בעלת תואר דוקטור לספרות השוואתית. לימדה אנגלית, תרגום ותיאטרון במסגרות אקדמיות ואחרות ופעלה לבסס את פסטיבל המשוררים הבינלאומי במשכנות שאננים, ירושלים, כאירוע מרכזי בעולם השירה. כיום היא חברת צוות עיתון הארץ באנגלית. ספרה “משני הצדדים” (מקור אנגלי ושלל תרגומים) יצא לאור בסדרת “כבר” לשירה בסוף שנת 2008.

 

 

On writing

משני הצדדים / ויויאן אדןRecently I was asked to edit or provide new versions for literal translations – sketches, really – of a number of quotes from poems by Natan Zach, to be cited in a prose article about some other subject.

So I did. Then I compared “before” with “after” — the literal translations with the new translations, just to see what happened. Here are some notes from the work on  “The Casino at Bat Galim” in Anti-Mechikon (Hard to Remember), Hakibbutz Hameuchad, 1984

BEFORE

What used to be here once upon a time, whole and fixed and beautiful

For youth in a shorecity on the seashore, an installation, in today’s language

Where people laughed and swam […]

AFTER

What once was whole here, repaired and fit

For youth in a seaside city on a beach, a facility, in today’s language

Where people laughed and swam […]

RATIONALE

“Once upon a time” introduces a fairy tale element doesn’t belong here. The poem deals with memory, not fantasy.

The phrase yaffeh le… is “appropriate, suited to, fit for” – rather than “beautiful,” the common meaning when the word stands alone.

“A shorecity on the seashore” isn’t something anyone would ever say in English. “Installation” as a translation of mitkan means a three-dimensional art piece that isn’t necessarily functional; “facility” applies to something that is (was) actually used, like the Bat Galim Casino..

BEFORE

Even pain will not restore what has been decreed lost

AFTER

What is fated to be lost, not even pain will help endure

RATIONALE

In the Hebrew poem, the sentence begins with the direct object of what won’t be helped (“What is fated to be lost”).  This placement gives the direct object greater weight than the subject of the sentence (“pain”). Loss is worse or at any rate more important than pain here. I prefer “fated” to “decreed” for its assonance with “pain.”

April 2017

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