Friday, June 26, 2009

The Kind Of Nerd I Am

I am embarrassed to admit how much fun I had doing an exercise from my writing class last week. The gist of it is that you take a poem in a foreign language and write what you think it says.

When I first tried this, the linguist in me kept wanting to actually attempt a translation, which was definitely not the point. Write a poem based on your impressions of the words that make up the original, not what you actually think it says. It helps to find a language totally unrelated to one you've ever studied. That way you can't cheat.

Yes, it sounds cheesy. That's why I'm abashed that I enjoyed it so much.

The original Hungarian poem I used is here. And following is my "translation":

It's curt and lazy, a fat little novel.
Hello? This call I'm making is collect.
Just the same, the bulls at the dock are half curry;
Casks of Beaujolais wriggle vigorously.

Mind the Beaujolais' vigorousness;
We have less vigor.
We have sung less, in front of their banners,
And gaze less madly at vigorousness.

The jet, its sock is a pip of a sock.
Do you hear me, jolly, wiggling sock?
Just as their games see and find them,
Magnanimity eludes them.

Death is not gone; I am not gone;
Little napkins, big napkins have eclipsed my village,
Leaving it a sterling mirage.

I know you're all way cooler than I am, so I'm not expecting anyone else to want to do this. But if you DID, and then put your goofy poem in the comments, it would totally make my day.


Mullins said...

That sounds extremely difficult. I saw the original and have no idea how you even got over the hump of starting the thing. Nice work.

Gypmar said...

The key is to read it out loud...then it actually suggests some familiar words. I was pretty stuck until I did that.

eric O said...

I thought that my Russian would help me out with at least a word or two. Nope. Nothin'. I know a good chunk of the words in the translation but the Hungarian pronunciation isn't anywhere in the ballpark of what the words sound like in Russian.

That said, your free-form was great and I will always beware of big and little napkins.

DaveShack said...

Tindrar úr Tungnajökli

Tindrar úr Tungnajökli,
Tómasarhagi þar
algrænn á eyðisöndum
er einn til fróunar.

Veit eg áður hér áði
einkavinurinn minn,
aldrei ríður hann oftar
upp í fjallhagann sinn.

Spordrjúgur Sprengisandur
og spölur er út í haf;
hálfa leið hugurinn ber mig,
það hallar norður af.

Ignorant Translation

Kezmai or Kotzebue,

Kezmai or Kotzebue,
neither can be
our green elysium
beyond the fires.

The night above this desert
oppresses the earth--
a dread army seen from a height,
dust motes in a bottomless chasm.

Hold my soul in your hand--
already my heart is under the bed--
otherwise I will find myself
falling skyward without words.

DaveShack said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gypmar said...

Awesome, Dave! (Of course.) Thanks for playing!

shaun said...

Wow, DaveShack. And with a Kotzebue, even.