The Lumber Room

"Consign them to dust and damp by way of preserving them"

Posts Tagged ‘literature

Poems

with 2 comments

       But to remember her my heart is sad,
       To see her is to know
       Bewildered thoughts, and touching driveth mad —
       How is she dear that worketh only woe?
       (P.E. More, 1899)

       The thought of her is saddening,
         The sight of her is fear,
       The touch of her is maddening—
         Can she be really dear?
       (Ryder, 1910)

These are both translations of Sanskrit poems, and quite obviously of the same one.1 The difference in style is not entirely due to the 10 years between them. :-)

Following the previous post, which egregiously violated “Show, don’t tell” — with a whole lot of telling and nothing to show for it — here are a couple more random examples of short verses that I feel are successful in translation. [As I started gathering examples, this post started turning into a tribute to Ryder, so I’ve cut that off for another time. What I like is obviously subjective, and I’m easily delighted by a simple rhyme. :-) Of course, most good poems can be translated into prose or free verse and still remain beautiful; the below are merely examples of translations being cleverly coerced into the verse forms of English.] I avoided commentary on the poems — for attempting it would be futile — and only touch on the translation.

This is from Amaru:

     SHE ONLY LOOKED

     She did not redden nor deny
       My entrance to her room;
     She did not speak an angry word;
       She did not fret and fume;
     She did not frown upon poor me,
       Her lover now as then;
     She only looked at me the way
       She looks at other men.

The core of the poem, its sting, is in the last two lines, and it may owe more to the inherent rhythms of the English language than to the skill of the translator that the natural way of expression fits so neatly into metre, but few other translators would have exploited it so well.

Also from Amaru:

     WHEN MY LOVE DRAWS NIGH

     When my love draws nigh,
       When his voice I hear,
     Why am I all eye?
       Why am I all ear?

How simple! As is the next one:

     SIMPLE JUSTICE

   If, maiden of the lotus eye,
     Your anger hurts you so,
   'Tis right you should not let it die,
     You hardly could, you know.

   But once I gave you an embrace,
     To keep it would be pain;
   And once I kissed your willing face,
     Give me that kiss again.

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Written by S

Thu, 2010-03-18 at 21:48:37 +05:30

Dan Brown parody

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Dan Brown is a hilariously bad writer. The Da Vinci Code was an outrageously successful book.
So it was only inevitable that in addition to all the delicious criticism of Dan Brown’s writing,1 there would also be a number of parodies of his books published, and indeed there have been several.2 While looking for something in the library, I found The Da Vinci Cod: A Fishy Parody by “Don Brine” (real name Adam Roberts) and quickly proceeded to borrow it and read it. It was a good two hours spent, which is more than can be said for Dan Brown’s books themselves. Although the author is a professor of literature at London University, the book manages to remain true to the awful writing and plot of the original. I heartily recommend reading the book if you come across it; for a taste of what it’s like, some excerpts follow. You can also see parts of the book at Google Books.
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Written by S

Sun, 2008-12-28 at 23:45:27 +05:30

A timeline ends

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Sad news that was too easy to miss in the ongoing deluge: Michael Crichton passed away on Tuesday, at age 66. See my friend’s post.
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Written by S

Thu, 2008-11-06 at 07:08:52 +05:30

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Al Gore has NOT joined George Bernard Shaw

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I want to be pedantic here.

George Bernard Shaw used to be the only person to have both a Nobel (Literature) and an Oscar (Screenplay). Now Al Gore, who had earlier allegedly won an Oscar (Best Documentary), has won a Nobel (Peace). And unlike Shaw, he’s won an Emmy as well. And been vice-president, and almost-president.

An impressive list of achievements, no doubt, but the first part isn’t true: Al Gore didn’t personally win an Oscar; the film featuring him did (it won two, actually). The director called him on stage during the acceptance speech and Gore even spoke; that’s probably the reason for the confusion.
Full details:

  • The 2006 Academy Award for Documentary Feature was awarded to “An Inconvenient Truth directed by Davis Guggenheim”.
  • The 2007 Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Television Primetime Emmy Award was Awarded to Current TV
  • “The Nobel Peace Prize for 2007 is to be shared, in two equal parts, between the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Albert Arnold (Al) Gore Jr. for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change.”

(BTW: An Inconvenient Truth also won the Academy Award for Best Original Song: “I Need to Wake Up” – An Inconvenient Truth Music and lyrics: Melissa Etheridge. Apparently, it is the first documentary to win 2 Oscars, and the first to win a best original song Oscar.)

As for Shaw:

  • The 1925 Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded to George Bernard Shaw “for his work which is marked by both idealism and humanity, its stimulating satire often being infused with a singular poetic beauty.”
  • The 1938 Academy Award for Writing Adapted Screenplay was awarded to Pygmalion – Ian Dalrymple, Cecil Lewis, W.P. Lipscomb, George Bernard Shaw from the play by George Bernard Shaw.

Note that this is a 1938 film, not My Fair Lady. (That one was nominated in 1964 but didn’t win, and Shaw was dead by then and had nothing to do with the film. He had forbidden any of his plays from becoming musicals, so the musical My Fair Lady could be made in 1956 only after he had died in 1950.)

Written by S

Fri, 2007-10-12 at 20:58:35 +05:30

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