24 August 2012

The Sun's Romance (Romanta Soarelui)

I am Romanian by birth with the language skills of an 11 year old which was the age that I left the country for Down Under Oz.

During a recent visit, my brother gave me a poetry book in Romanian and said something like this: "You want to learn Romanian, use this to get you started".  So I flicked through the book and realised how limited my language skills were.  I always knew my limitations, I just really didn't need to have it so obviously presented.  As I was reading the poetry, I found myself completely incapable of translating.

I figured the best way to expand my Romanian is to attempt to translate the poems into English.  As you might imagine that is no easy feat.  The two languages are articulated in opposite ways, making literal translation impossible.  Another challenge is what sounds good and makes sense in telling a poetic story in Romanian, most certainly does not sound good nor poetic in English.

Either way, I was game and up for the challenge.  I selected a poem that seemed interesting enough from the 20% I could actually translate without a dictionary and started one line at a time.  Of course by the end of the first verse, it was all "gobbledegook" and by the second absolutely made no sense.  Through perseverance and sheer stubbornness on my part I started fudging it, cut lines out that I had no idea what the poet was trying to convey and ended with something that seemed reasonable.  Maybe not to your liking but not bad for a first try.

This was the outcome with my interference:

The Sun's Romance
by Mihail Sadoveanu

I soar,
I stretch,
I set
And disappear,
Yet my sunset's still arisen...
Forever solitary as daylight's vagabond
I am eternally unique and infinitely exposed.

With a giant magic wand, 
I give ...

Rivers reptilian life,
Seas their phosphorescent look,
Distant mountains, troops of gorillas,
And coastline trees, enviable positions.

I give...
Dried fig trees new fruit
Bronze statues humanness 
And on marble-lined pedestals commanding gestures,
That Kings' shall forever command.

But when I set
And the heat struggles in the cup of the rising cold
I shall throw new seeds into old patterns
And listen to Perpetuation hum amongst the chaos.

For a giggle, here's the literal translation of the first verse:

The Romance of the Sun
by Mihail Sadoveanu

I'm tall,
And then disappear,
And my sunset is still arise...
Are homeless day forever solitary -
Portrait unique and eternal, infinite exposed

And for the Romanian's who are curious about it, here's the original version and if you want to shed light on it, feel free to comment.  Am widely open to it.

Romanta Soarelui
by Mihail Sadoveanu

Si-apoi dispar,
Si-apusul meu e totusi rasarit...
Sunt vagabondul zilei de-a pururi solitar
Portret unic si vesnic, expus in infinit.

Cu magica-mi bagheta uriase -
Stapina hotaririlor eterne -
Destept maturatorii albelor orase
Si-adorm intirziatii negrelor taverne...

Dau fluviilor gratii de reptile,
Dau marilor priviri fosforescente,
Iar muntilor din zare, aspecte de gorile,
Si brazilor, pe coaste, pozitii indecente.

Dau fructe noi smochinilor uscati,
Dau bronzului figura omeneasca,
Iar Regilor -
Pe socluri de marmura-nsirati -
Poruncitoare gesturi, ca-n veci sa porunceasca.

Iar cind cobor,
Cind calda-nfiorare
Se zbate-n cupa recelui repaos,
Azvirl saminta noua in vechile tipare
Si-ascult Perpetuarea cum fredoneaza-n haos!...