Tag Archives: (mis)translation poem

Ferns before sunrise

conquers me
reducing me to gravy

The smell of fish
often still wet
you prepare before drying

No one
so far
quenches my thirst

before sunrise
plucked from your kitchen window

laser thick
in trout eyes

covering skin
until it’s too late

Today is a perfect day to feature Ileea, a fellow participant who writes in a language most of us don’t understand. But, like she wrote last year: Google is your friend, and you can still enjoy her poems even when Google takes some liberties in translating them.
I hadn’t read Ileea yet this year, but it was on my wish list. Today I first worked with one of her poems for the prompt. My next step will be to read her other poems and have Google translate them from Swedish to English. Then, and only then, I will check out what the original poem was about. I’ll enjoy he suspense for a while!

If you hop over to the Ileea blog, may I recomend her day 13? It’s rather great.

väcker mig
redan halv sju
har vaknat
tjuter utanför fönstret
sover tungt
vid min sida
första soluppgång
genom skitiga köksfönster
läser dikter
med trötta ögon
jag ska
sova lite till

Two sides of a circle

Look, look! into my face Badhlav
Search for my eyes
Hunt for my eyes
It is for want of clothing
not for modesty’s sake
that I hide from you

Feel, feel! cloth for protection
Guising colour, shape, sight, smell
Home to thoughts unknown, unseen
unheard, as maidens dare not speak

Galaxies remain distant my Badnaam
Everything created for God
can lead my boundless love astray

Your face my sweetest memory
until my limitless thirst for deeper meaning
swiftly makes love just
white space seem something senseless
and releasing my captivity
white space white space seem something brave


Picture source copyright Eric Rebaser, who generously permitted me to use one of his pictures, as he did for day 5 of #NaPoWriMo Check out his work, it’s lovely!

Those (mis) translation poems are so hard to make… I’ve used a poem by Preethi Byrappa, called Zindagi ho gayi Barbad. I have to ask her what language it is written in, because she writes in at least three and I don’t understand a word of this one. I’ll let you know as soon as I find out 🙂 It’s in Hindi – one of the most spoken languages in the world… I’ve copied the poem below.

Zindagi ho gayi Barbad

Gadi gadi roop mein hai Badhlav,
Uparse hai kuch aur,
Andarse hai kuch aur,
Od liya hai sab jute Naqaab,
Mushkil hai pehchanna Yaar,
Parivar, Dost ho ya Pyaar,
Bar bar lete hai Imtihaan,
Samajhna  nahi chahte meri Baat,
Mili naa khushi kar ke Intezar,
Sabarka ho rahi hai Satyanash,
Galatfahmi honse hogai mein Badnaam,
Tut rahi hai Vishwas,
Har rishte mein aa gai Dharar,
Khai  thokar  mein har baar,
Dil mein aa rahi hai kuch khayal,
Kya sabhi rishte jutse ho gayi Shuruvadh,
Is dukh mein Zindagi ho gayi Barbad……

© by Preethi Byrappa

Was there no new prompt today? For this is the day 5 prompt – again. Yes, there was a new prompt. It’s so good that I actually want to have my poem for the day out of my way before I start thinking on it.

Since I wanted to try my hand on the very challenging (mis)translation poem again, and I already had Preethi in mind, this was the perfect solution. Preethi surprised me by translating one of my Dutch poems for her day 5 poem, and I loved it. I hope you like yours too Preethi!

The hellcats

She marks the battlefield
for them to come
she invites them for their fury

Propelled by knives’ blades
the rumbling noise
travels up higher
pushing, cracking bones
grinding teeth
until the light falls

Then with thunderous claws and lightning
she challenges the hellcats
up their miscreant steamrollers
intending the mist to spring alive
for even inimical armed forces
wither to end small

She foretells
the season will change immediately
because for this constellation
Lethe will come

When I saw this picture in March, I knew straight away I wanted to use it during #NaPoWriMo. So it was perfect that today’s prompt called for using a photo and a poem in a language you don’t understand. We were invited to translate a poem into English, with the idea that the poem is actually “about” our photograph.

Luckily Eric, the talented photographer, kindly allowed me to use his picture. I totally recommend his Tumblr page, for he makes you look at things in a way you’ve never done before. If you like painting you might be particularly impressed with his more abstract pictures (I know I am!). He’s also on Twitter.

I’d also like to highlight the poem I used to create this one. It’s in Swedish, and it’s from a fellow #NaPoWriMo participant, Ileea. I have no clue what her day 2 poem was about, but I loved traveling through her words and enjoying their unfamiliarity. Right now, I start to get worried that the meaning of my poem might clash completely with hers, or be offensive in any other way. If so, I apologise!

Copyright picture, created by http://ericrebaser.tumblr.com/post/171841515897/achterdijk, who kindly permitted me to use it