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table of contents

Anaktoria

Sappho | Naomi Bernstein

Who Are You in My Heart?

Mahadevi Varma | Shailly Pandey

Abend

Rainer Maria Rilke | Michaela Kotziers

Genesis 16 / Sarai and Abram

Michaela Kotziers

Thoreauvian Wawa

Gina DeCagna

Mama

 Mahmoud Darwish | Michael Karam

You, you broke yourself

Giuseppe Ungaretti | Anna Carapellotti

The Seagull

Pablo Neruda | Gregorio Doblehablante

Cormorant

Pablo Neruda | Gregorio Doblehablante

Variations

Eugenio MontaleMichaela Kotziers

The Dream of the Rood

Ayla Fudala

The Other Girl

Annie Ernaux Jackson Gu

Hello, Sadness

Françoise SaganAlexandra Bousquet-Chavanne

 

Anaktoria

Sappho

οι μεν ιππηων στροτον οι δε πεσδων

οι δε νᾱων φαισ' επι γᾱν μελαινᾱν

εμμεναι καλλιστον εγω δε κην' οτ-

τω τις ερᾱται      

                                              

παγχυ δ' ευμᾱρες συνετον ποησαι

παντι τουτ΄ ᾱ γαρ πολυ περσκεθοισᾱ

καλλος ανθρωπων Ελενᾱ Ϝον ανδρα

τον μεγ' αριστον                                             

 

... 

τᾱς κε βολλοιμᾱν ερατον τε βᾶμα

κᾱμαρυχμα λαμπρον ιδην προσωπω

ὴ τα Λῡδων αρματα κᾱν οπλοισι

πεσδομαχεντα

 

Anaktoria

Translated by Naomi Bernstein

 

Some call a thousand men on horseback
some call a thousand on foot
some a fleet of white sails growing
the loveliest sight on this black earth.
I disagree.

Quite clear it seems
when we think of her
(Helen).
her beauty
wandering away, over water
forgetting fine husband, forgetting
child
in the instant love

touched her lightly.
which reminds me
of Anaktoria
who is gone.

translator's note​

This is the third draft of the translation that I did for Taije Silverman's class "The Translation of Poetry and the Poetry of Translation." As with all translations, I was trying to strike a balance between evoking the tone I wanted (more modern, but still somber) while staying true to the poem, which was originally written in Ancient Greek.

about the translator

NAOMI BERNSTEIN is a senior studying creative writing at Penn.

 

कौन तुम मेरे हृदय में?

महादेवी वर्मा

कौन मेरी कसक में नित
     मधुरता भरता अलक्षित?
कौन प्यासे लोचनों में
    घुमड़ घिर झरता अपरिचित?
    स्वर्ण स्वप्नों का चितेरा
       नींद के सूने निलय में!
          कौन तुम मेरे हृदय में?

अनुसरण निश्वास मेरे
    कर रहे किसका निरन्तर?
चूमने पदचिन्ह किसके
    लौटते यह श्वास फिर फिर?
    कौन बन्दी कर मुझे अब
       बँध गया अपनी विजय मे?
          कौन तुम मेरे हृदय में?

एक करुण अभाव चिर -
    तृप्ति का संसार संचित,
एक लघु क्षण दे रहा
    निर्वाण के वरदान शत-शत;
    पा लिया मैंने किसे इस
        वेदना के मधुर क्रय में?
          कौन तुम मेरे हृदय में?

गूंजता उर में न जाने
    दूर के संगीत-सा क्या!
आज खो निज को मुझे
    खोया मिला विपरीत-सा क्या!
    क्या नहा आई विरह-निशि
        मिलन-मधदिन के उदय में?
          कौन तुम मेरे हृदय में?

तिमिर-पारावार में
    आलोक-प्रतिमा है अकम्पित;
आज ज्वाला से बरसता
    क्यों मधुर घनसार सुरभित?
    सुन रही हूँ एक ही
        झंकार जीवन में, प्रलय में?
          कौन तुम मेरे हृदय में?

मूक सुख-दुख कर रहे
    मेरा नया श्रृंगार-सा क्या?
झूम गर्वित स्वर्ग देता -
    नत धरा को प्यार-सा क्या?
    आज पुलकित सृष्टि क्या
        करने चली अभिसार लय में?
          कौन तुम मेरे हृदय में?

Who Are You in My Heart?

translated by Shailly Pandey

Who are you in my heart?

What constant settles into my aching, 
Delicious, transcendent? 
Who creates luscious raindrops
From my parched eyes? 
The you of my gold dreams,
The you who left me stranded
In velvet torrents of deserted
blue sleep.
Who are you in my heart?

What does my breath unknowingly chase, 
Relentless, restless? 
Why does my breath command my lips to bow,
to press against the contours of footprints? 
Who, in trapping me now,
Has tripped and been caught? 
Who are you in my heart?

In the abundance of absence, 
This world hums with rightness. 
Even in a slight second, you lavish me
With each of nirvana’s boons. 
Who have I welcomed
In this honeyed-bargain of anguish? 
Who are you in my heart? 

I don’t understand what far-away harmony
thunders my heart-strings,
But in surrendering the reality of my ego,
I have found a kind of opposite.  
Has sorrow-night already washed
In the midday’s meeting-light?
Who are you in my heart? 

In what continues of darkness,
One idol of light refuses to flicker.
Fire stretches down its fingers today,
Burning my world divine.
And I hear a midnight sound
In decay and in life. 
Who are you in my heart?

How do mute joy and mute grief
Nestle jewels in the hollow of my throat? 
What love-like bangles do the prides of paradise
Slide up life’s graceful wrists? 
What does carefree, childish creation
Weave into the world’s drumming life-rhythm? 
Who are you in my heart?

translator's note​

Mahadevi Varma was one of the Chhayavad poets of India, the equivalent of the Western Romantics, so to speak. Her command of the Hindi language is unparalleled to this day, with many of her words drawn from the ancient language of Sanskrit. It's no surprise then that translating her poetry proved to be a challenge. I consider myself bilingual in Hindi and English; my entire life has been a swirl of the two languages. However, translating Varma made me question myself a little bit. I had to decipher some of her words by using old Hindi dictionaries. Some of the phrases she used weren't even in those dictionaries, so I had to go further, into Sanskrit vocabulary. Her sentence structure and diction astounded me, and through translating her poetry, I learned more about my mother tongue. Varma's poetry reads like a song, and "Kaun tum mere hriday mein?" or "Who are you in my heart" is no different. The first four lines of each stanza rhyme, and then the penultimate and last lines of the stanza rhymed, with the last line always being "Kaun tum mere hriday mein?" The rhyming scheme was a mark of Varma's genius, as rhyming in a language like Hindi is extremely difficult due to the lack of words that all have the same sound in the last syllable. I initially tried to preserve the rhyming in my translation, but in doing so, I lost the dream-like melody of the song. I decided to stay true to the meaning of the poem rather than the rhyme scene. Another thing to note is that the inflection of the last line of each stanza, though the words are the same, is meant to change in each stanza. This is a common practice in Hindi poetry - having a refrain that repeats throughout the poem, with the inflection changing every time it is read. Though I could not translate this practice into English, I tried to give each stanza of my translation a different emotional pulse, so that when the reader got to "Who are you in my heart?" it would very naturally emote the way the rest of the stanza did, be it a despairing cry or a relieved sigh.

about the translator

SHAILLY PANDEY is a sophomore studying Biological Basis of Behavior and pre-medicine at the College of Arts and Science at the University of Pennsylvania. She started translating poetry in her freshman spring and she has loved doing it ever since, and she is now a staff editor for Doublespeak. 

 

Abend

Rainer Maria Rilke

Der Abend wechselt langsam die Gewänder,
die ihm ein Rand von alten Bäumen hält;
du schaust: und von dir scheiden sich die Länder,
ein himmelfahrendes und eins, das fällt;

und lassen dich, zu keinem ganz gehörend,
nicht ganz so dunkel wie das Haus, das schweigt,
nicht ganz so sicher Ewiges beschwörend
wie das, was Stern wird jede Nacht und steigt—

und lassen dir (unsäglich zu entwirrn)
dein Leben band und riesenhaft und reifend,
so dass es, bald begrenzt und bald begreifend,
abwechselnd Stein in dir wird und Gestirn.

Abend

translated by Michaela Kotziers

The day returns, slowly, its clothes
that belong to the sun,
evening giving new darkness
to the legs of old trees.

You look,
and in your eyes these hours part,
one skyward traveling, one descending;

neither claims you whole.
They leave you
not so entirely dark as that house,
that one silent over there,
not so entirely sure in prolonged longing
as that thing,
that every-night star that rises

and lowers to you (unspeakably entwined)
your life
shaken, roaring, but ripened
so that soon bound, soon understanding,
it tumbles in you
stone to stardust, stardust to stone.

translator's note​

Rainer Maria Rilke was a modern German-language poet, intensely lyrical in his writing. With his experiments of syntax and images, collections of Rilke’s poetry work towards a philosophy of objective impressions, and truths of human life. Perhaps his most well known books of poetry are Neue Gedichte (New Poems) and Duino Elegies, the second of which were said to “have had as much influence in German-speaking countries as [T. S. Eliot's] The Waste Land has in England and America." “Abend,” the poem that I translated, could be placed with Rilke’s Dinggedichte (thing poems), which search to explain the human through the non-human (Dinge). My translation does not mirror Rilke’s formal verse, but it does stay true to the original’s simple vocabulary to describe the everyday scene of evening. What I found most interesting and did preserve was Rilke’s syntax—long sentences that spill from one line and stanza to the next, imitating the way in which Abend (evening) is both the day and night, two Länder (worlds) blending into one another rather than two independent beings. “Evening” would be a literal translation of Abend, but I felt that the original’s title of Abend encompasses the feeling of the poem rather than simply designating the time of day in which the poem takes place. In trying to find an English word that was more nuanced than what I find to be our understanding of “evening,” “twilight” came to mind with its blurred borders of night and day, but the sound of the word wasn’t right. So, as an instance of untranslatability, Abend remains in German for my title.

about the translator

MICHAELA KOTZIERS is a junior studying English Literature and German at Penn. She began writing poetry in her first year of college and has since taken interest in translation, especially that of Old English poetry and with experiments in form.

 

Genesis 16:1-6

King James Version

Now Sarai Abram's wife bare him no children: and she had an handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar.

And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the Lord hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai.

And Sarai Abram's wife took Hagar her maid the Egyptian, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife.

And he went in unto Hagar, and she conceived: and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her eyes.

And Sarai said unto Abram, My wrong be upon thee: I have given my maid into thy bosom; and when she saw that she had conceived, I was despised in her eyes: the Lord judge between me and thee.

But Abram said unto Sarai, Behold, thy maid is in thine hand; do to her as it pleaseth thee. And when Sarai dealt hardly with her, she fled from her face.

Genesis 16:1-6

Luther

Sarai, Abrams Weib, gebar ihm kein Kind. Sie hatte eine ägyptische Magd, die hieß Hagar.

Und sie sprach zu Abram: Siehe, der HERR hat mich verschlossen, daß ich nicht gebären kann. Gehe doch zu meiner Magd, ob ich vielleicht aus ihr mich aufbauen möge. Und Abram gehorchte der Stimme Sarais.

Da nahm Sarai, Abrams Weib, ihre ägyptische Magd, Hagar, und gab sie Abram, ihrem Mann, zum Weibe, nachdem sie zehn Jahre im Lande Kanaan gewohnt hatten.

Und er ging zu Hagar, die ward schwanger. Als sie nun sah, daß sie schwanger war, achtete sie ihre Frau gering gegen sich.

Da sprach Sarai zu Abram: Du tust unrecht an mir. Ich habe meine Magd dir in die Arme gegeben; nun sie aber sieht, daß sie schwanger geworden ist, muß ich gering sein in ihren Augen.

Der HERR sei Richter zwischen mir und dir.

Abram aber sprach zu Sarai: Siehe, deine Magd ist unter deiner Gewalt; tue mit ihr, wie dir's gefällt. Da sie nun Sarai wollte demütigen, floh sie von ihr.

Sarai and Abram

translated from German by Michaela Kotziers

I was Sarai, wife of Abram.
He was Abram, husband of Sarai.

I said: Take Hagar.
Spill your seed unto her bowels and plant
you there a tree. Plant a tree that if not
thee and I and thy seed,
then at least thee and I can climb,
climb its branches lumbering towards
an opalescent sky.

I brought Hagar, my Egyptian maid.
Hagar I brought unto you.

I brought her to you in the night
and stood outside your tent,
numbering stars against
soft murmurs melting
like sand to glass beneath my tongue.

Hagar said she was pregnant,
with child by you,
by you and your child.
Her soft belly swelled
with youth and with seed
and with pride and with child.

I said: You abuse me.

I gave you Hagar, my Egyptian maid.
Hagar I gave to you,
and from her you drew
like a well.
She sees my lips are tied to my womb,
that you are tied to your seed
as I am to you,
but the knots are coming loose,
unraveling now numberless
like the dust the Lord said would be
our seed.

You said aber to me: Hagar is your maid,
your servant, your wish.
You said: Sarah, Hagar is beneath you.

I said: Do not call me Sarah
when our names are not yet changed,
when we are not yet old,
when my stomach aches in empty folds
by God’s judgment.

My being is moved for your son,
for our son whose name we know.

For your son I dream
but do not speak.

I said: Hagar must leave from you and me.

translator's note​

My adaptation hones in on Sarai’s point of view—what it meant for a woman to be barren in biblical times and the maternal despair felt at this point in her story, before the angels have prophesied that she will bare Abram a son. I wanted to form our understanding of Abram through Sarai’s burdens, and dialogue seemed to be the most useful form to do so. My translation oscillates between an inner monologue and direct address from Sarai to Abram in order to produce a dissonance between what distresses Sarai and what she reveals to Abram. Moments of chiasmus (“I brought Hagar, my Egyptian maid. / Hagar I brought unto you”) imitate the repetition often found in biblical stories, and also reflect the repetitive thought process of sorting through memory. While biblical stories often withhold character motivations, this poem presents a case in which it is only through a careful recollection of events that Sarai finds a new understanding of her and Abram’s situation.

Words such as “bowels,” “skies,” “dust,” and “seed,” along with archaic pronouns evoke both the original passage and other Biblical stories. “Aber” was kept from the German original; there is no clean English translation for the word, and the intensification that it creates in the German seemed too important to omit from Abram’s line.

about the translator

MICHAELA KOTZIERS is a junior studying English Literature and German at Penn. She began writing poetry in her first year of college and has since taken interest in translation, especially that of Old English poetry and with experiments in form.

 

from Walden

Henry David Thoreau

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms.

Thoreauvian Wawa

translated by Gina DeCagna

 

I walked to the Wawa because

I wished to indulge fortuitously,

to guzzle only the least nutritious of eats,

and discover if I could only chug what

it had in stock, and not, when

I thirsted to imbibe, discover that

I had nothing bagged. I did not wait

to guzzle down what was not wrapped, savoring

is so unnecessary; nor did I remember to use

utensils unless it was quite

viscous. I wanted to eat quick and

suck up all the juice of meat, to digest

so readily and cow-like as to put

to excrete all that was digestible, to cut a fine

cheese and walk out, to drive the body into

a corner, and slumber it to its fattest proportions.

translator's note​

This is a substitution translation. I took Thoreau’s famous opening lines to Walden and substituted the words for a satirical alternative that highlights the awkwardness of the syntactical structure by contemporary standards.

about the translator

GINA DECAGNA, C'16, is an emerging artist, writer, and editor working across several different media. Since 2012, she has been the founder and editor-in-chief of Symbiosis, a creative community and publication of collaborating artists and writers dedicated to the interrelationship of the visual and literary arts.

 

إلـى أمّــي

محمود درويش - فلسطين

 

أحنُّ إلى خبزِ أمّي

وقهوةِ أمّي 
ولمسةِ أمّي 
وتكبرُ فيَّ الطفولةُ 
يوماً على صدرِ يومِ 
وأعشقُ عمري لأنّي 
إذا متُّ 
أخجلُ من دمعِ أمّي 

خذيني، إذا عدتُ يوماً 
وشاحاً لهُدبكْ 
وغطّي عظامي بعشبِ 
تعمّد من طُهرِ كعبكْ 
..وشدّي وثاقي
..بخصلةِ شَعر 
بخيطٍ يلوّحُ في ذيلِ ثوبكْ 
عساني أصيرُ إلهاً 
..إلهاً أصير 
إذا ما لمستُ قرارةَ قلبكْ! 

ضعيني، إذا ما رجعتُ 
وقوداً بتنّورِ ناركْ 
وحبلِ الغسيلِ على سطحِ دارِكْ 
لأني فقدتُ الوقوفَ 
بدونِ صلاةِ نهارِكْ 
هرِمتُ، فرُدّي نجومَ الطفولة 
حتّى أُشارِكْ 
صغارَ العصافيرِ 
..دربَ الرجوع

لعشِّ انتظاركْ..

Mama

translated from Arabic by Michael Karam

I yearn for her bread, 
And her coffee, 
And her touch,
And my childhood takes over me
Day upon breast of day - 
I adore my life because
When I die
Her tears will shame me.

If I return, accept me
A veil for your gaze.
Clothe my bones with grass
Blessed by the serenity of your step.
Fasten my bonds…
With a lock of hair…
With a thread from the waving trail of your dress.
Maybe I’d become a god
O, a god I would become…
If I were to find my place in your heart – and stay!

If I return, place me
As fire in your oven, as fuel.
String me, on the roof of your home,
As clothesline.
If I can stand on my feet, 
Your daily prayer I thank.
I aged – give back those childhood dreams,
So I may join
The youngest of birds
On their flight back
To the nest – you smile

translator's note​

Born in Western Galilee, Mahmoud Darwish is known as the national poet of Palestine, and his poetry is beloved throughout the world. He died in 2008. I chose to translate this piece as the Arabic's softness in the poem is akin to a Mother's Day recital. I tried my best to maintain that softness. It's a passionate love story from a son to his mother that plays on repeated structures in phrasing, another element I did my best to maintain. Overall, I maintained the musicality but also translated some phrases to a more interpreted translation that serves the same purpose. 

about the translator

MICHAEL KARAM is a junior at the University of Pennsylvania, majoring in both International Relations and Economics, with a minor in Mathematics. Although he was born in the US, he only lived there for a couple of years before moving to Egypt and then to Lebanon a year later. Growing up in Lebanon has fostered within him a love and passion for languages. He is proficient in French and Arabic and has a working knowledge of Spanish. In his opinion, knowing any language comes in handy in a translation because you have some understanding of how languages vary, are alike, and translate ideas. At Penn, Michael is involved with the International Affairs Association, the Undergraduate Assembly, the Assembly of International Students and the United Minorities Council.  

 

Tu ti spezzasti

Giuseppe Ungaretti

I molti, immani, sparsi, grigi sassi
Frementi ancora alle segrete fionde
Di originarie fiamme suffocate
Od ai terrori di fiumane vergini
Ruinanti in implacabili carezze,
—Sopra l’abbaglio della sabbia rigidi
In un vuoto orizzonte, non rammenti?

E la recline, che s’apriva all’unico
Raccogliersi dell’ombra nella valle,
Araucaria, anelando ingigantita,
Volta nell’ardua selce d’erme fibre
Più delle altre dannate refrattaria,
Fresca la bocca di farfalle e d’erbe
Dove dale radici si tagliava,
—Non la rammentii delirante mura
Sopra tre palmi d’un rotondo ciottolo
In un perfetto bilico
Magicamente apparsa?

Di ramo in ramo fiorrancino lieve
Ebbri di meraviglia gli avidi occhi
Ne conquistavi la screziata cima,
Temerario, musico bimbo,
Solo per rivedere all’imo lucido
D’un fondo e quieto baratro di mare
Favolose testuggini
Ridestarsi fra le alghe.

Della natura estrema la tensione
E le subacquee pompe,
Funebri moniti.

2.
Alzavi le braccia come ali
E ridavi nascita al vento
Correndo nel peso dell’aria immota.

Nessuno mai vide posare
Il tuo lieve piede di danza.

3.
Grazia, felice,
Non avresti potuto non spezzarti
In una cecità tanto indurita
Tu semplice soffio e cristallo,

Troppo umano lampo per l’empio,
Selvoso, accanito, ronzante
Ruggito d’un sole ignudo.

You, you broke yourself

translated from Italian by Anna Carapellotti

The many, immense, lifeless stones
Trembling still in secret slings
Of already smothered flames
Or the terrors of virgin floods
Rushing relentless—
Rigid above the sand’s blind glare
On an infinitely empty horizon,
Don’t you remember?

And the Araucaria
Leaning, opening to be the only
Gathering of shadows in the valley,
Craving growth
Curving its fibers into the arduous stone
Resilient, more so than the other damned,
Lips lively with butterflies and budding grass
Intersecting with severed roots—
Don’t you remember that restless silence?
As if by magic, it appeared
Above three spans of a smooth stone
In perfectly precarious balance.

From branch to branch a breezy kinglet
Drunk from wonder, your eager eyes
Conquering the mottled summit
Fearless, musical child
Only to gaze again into the glittering depth
Of a deep and peaceful ocean chasm.
Fabulous tortoises
Awaking again among algae.

In nature’s tremendous tension
And underwater splendor,
Were mournful warnings.

2.
You spread your arms like wings
And gave life back to the wind
Suspended in the impenetrable air.

No one ever saw you rest
Your light, dancing feet.

3.
Grace, happiness, you,
Who could not help but break
Against such callous blindness—
You, fragile breath and crystal.

Undeniably human, a flash of light
Feral, tenacious, purring—
The roar of a naked sun.

translator's note​

I have translated Giuseppe Ungaretti’s “Tu ti spezzasti” (“You broke yourself”). Ungaretti (1888-1970) was an Italian poet, born and raised in Alexandria, Egypt. He wrote his first volume of poetry in the trenches during World War I while serving in the Italian Army. He is known for breaking away from the traditional Italian form, his works characterized by obscure language and experimental meter. Ungaretti lived in Brazil from 1936 to 1942, where he taught Italian Literature at the University of São Paolo. While living in Brazil, his nine-year-old son died tragically from appendicitis, which is what “Tu ti spezzasti” is about. Published in his collection Il dolore (1947), “Tu ti spezzasti” is full of dolore (pain/grief) as it describes a memory of his fragile son playing among the Araucaria trees in Brazil’s intense landscape. Like many of his poems, the tone is nostalgic, which I have attempted to capture here. I chose to translate this poem because it is regarded as one of Ungaretti’s finest works, and I find it to be beautifully intimate.

about the translator

ANNA CARAPELLOTTI is a senior at the University of

Pennsylvania majoring in Cognitive Science. Her love of learning languages began at the Atlanta International School, where she studied Spanish, French, and Latin. Having grown up in an Italian-American family, she was thrilled to have the opportunity to formally study Italian at Penn. Anna is a lover of Italian literature and a novice translator of poetry. She formerly worked as a translator for Watching America, an organization that provides foreign perspective on current American issues by making available in English articles written about the U.S. by foreign news sources.

 

La Gaviota

Pablo Neruda

La gaviota abrió con destreza,

con espuma, con estupor,

dos direcciones peregrinas

y así se mantuvo en el cielo

con dos alas, dos claridades,

dos secretarias de la luz

hasta que voló, sin embargo,

hacia el este y hacia el oeste,

hacia el norte y hacia la nieve,

hacia la Luna y hacia el Sol.

The Seagull

translated from Spanish by Gregorio Doblehablante

The seagull opened its wings skillfully,

with seafoam, with stupor,

two pilgrim directions,

and like this it remains in the sky

with two wings, two shining rays

two helpers of light

until it flew, nonetheless,

to the east and to the west,

to the north and to the snow,

to the moon and to the sun.

translator's note​

"La Gaviota" was published in Neruda's book Arte de pájaros (Bird’s art). During the fall semester of 2014, we undertook this translating task as an opportunity to face the polysemantic nature of all languages. In that sense, we submit these translations as the work of a collective author named Gregorio Doblehablante.

about the translator

GREGORIO DOBLEHABLANTE (“Gregory DoubleSpeak”) is the pseudonym of a collective author group consisting of five undergraduates and two graduate student supervisors. The included translations are collective projects done in Casa Hispana, a Modern Language Program that takes place in Gregory College House, a student residence at the University of Pennsylvania. Casa Hispana is a language program designed to help residents in Gregory College House and students throughout campus to improve their speaking skills in Spanish. It is also a place of encounter where students can learn more about Latin American, Latino, and Hispanic cultures.

 

Cormorán

Pablo Neruda

Crucificado en la roca,

inmóvil cruz de pelo negro,

se quedó allí terco y torcido.

El sol cayó como un caballo

sobre las piedras de la costa:

sus herraduras desataron

un millón de chispas furiosas,

un millón de gotas de mar

y el crucificado volante

no parpadeó sobre la cruz:

la ola se hinchaba y daba a luz:

temblaba la piedra en el parto:

susurraba suave la espuma

y allí como un negro ahorcado

seguía muerto el cormorán,

seguía vivo el cormorán,

seguía vivo y muerto y cruz,

con las rígidas alas negras

abiertas encima del agua:

seguía como un garfio cruel

clavado a la sal de las rocas

y de tantos golpes de cólera,

de tanto verde y fuego y furia,

de los poderes reunidos

en el silbante litoral

él parecía la amenaza:

él era la cruz y la horca:

la noche clavada en la cruz,

la agonía de las tinieblas:

pero de pronto huyó en el cielo,

voló como una flecha negra

y subió cíclico volando

con su traje de nieve negra,

con pausa de estrella o de nave.

Y sobre el desorden del mar

—dentelladas de mar y frío—

voló voló voló voló

su ecuación pura en el espacio.

Cormorant

translated from Spanish by Gregorio Doblehablante

Crucified on the rock,

A motionless cross of black feathers,

There it remained obstinate and contorted.

The sun beat down like a horse

On the rocks along the coast:

Its hooves unleashed

A million raging sparks,

A million drops from the sea

And the crucified aviator,

did not blink on his cross:

the wave swelled and gave birth:

the rock trembled as it emerged:

the foam whispered softly

and there like a dark man hanging,

the cormorant remains dead,

the cormorant remains alive,

the cormorant remains alive and dead and cross

with the rigid black wings,

opened above the water:

remains like a cruel hook

latched to the salt of the rocks,

and despite so many angry hits,

and despite so much life and fire and fury,

despite the reunited powers,

On the howling coast,

He seemed threatening;

He was the cross and the noose,

the night nailed to the cross,

the agony of darkness,

but suddenly he fled to the sky,

flew like a black arrow,

spiralled upwards,

with his suit of black snow,

with the pause of stars or ships.

And above the unruly waters

—bites of cold and sea—

he flew flew flew flew

tracing his pure equation in space.

translator's note​

"Cormorán" was published in Neruda's book Arte de pájaros (Bird’s art). During the fall semester of 2014, we undertook this translating task as an opportunity to face the polysemantic nature of all languages. In that sense, we submit these translations as the work of a collective author named Gregorio Doblehablante.

about the translator

GREGORIO DOBLEHABLANTE (“Gregory DoubleSpeak”) is the pseudonym of a collective author group consisting of five undergraduates and two graduate student supervisors. The included translations are collective projects done in Casa Hispana, a Modern Language Program that takes place in Gregory College House, a student residence at the University of Pennsylvania. Casa Hispana is a language program designed to help residents in Gregory College House and students throughout campus to improve their speaking skills in Spanish. It is also a place of encounter where students can learn more about Latin American, Latino, and Hispanic cultures.

 

Da Mottetti

Eugenio Montale

I

Lo sai: debbo riperderti e non posso.

Come un tiro aggiustato mi sommuove

ogni opera, ogni grido e anche lo spiro

salino che straripa

dai moli e fa l’oscura primavera

di Sottoripa.  

   Paese di ferrame e alberature

   a selva nella polvere del vespro.

   Un ronzio lungo viene dall’aperto,

   strazia com’unghia ai vetri. Cerco il segno

   smarrito, il pegno solo ch’ebbi in grazia 

   da te.

               E l’inferno è certo.

Variations

translated from Italian by Michaela Kotziers

I

You know: I will lose you again,

and cannot.

Each word spoken, thought,

or unthought,

every sputtering of mind into one

foot in front

of the other, crystallizes, waiting

to crackle

over the wharves like the ocean salt

that bruises the patterns of spring.

 

A forest of ironwork,

ships steeped in dusk.

That ever-present drone

drags in from somewhere

already lost,

dancing like a nail over glass.

I’m still searching for your sign,

yours that is gone,

yours that was you.

        And hell

        is coming loose.

translator's note​

 

Eugenio Montale was born in Genoa, Italy in 1896.  He is associated with the “Hermetic” poetry movement—one marked by and at times criticized for the volume of emotion and inexplicable concepts. Montale was also a part of the Dolce stil Novo (sweet new style), dedicated to distilling the beauty in absence and longing.  Mine is a translation of the first poem of Montale’s series, Da Mottetti. The form is evidently different, and the first stanza’s changes were an effort to linger on the hesitations that inevitably follow loss. The second stanza focuses more heavily on “you” in an attempt at conveying absence without solitude, which I believe Montale was after in Da Mottetti.  Overall it is more of a molding of the original than a literal translation.

about the translator

MICHAELA KOTZIERS is a junior studying English Literature and German at Penn. She began writing poetry in her first year of college and has since taken interest in translation, especially that of Old English poetry and with experiments in form.

 

Hwæt! Ic swefna cyst     secgan wylle,

hwæt me gemætte     to midre nihte

syðþan reordberend     reste wunedon.

Þuhte me þæt ic gesawe     syllicre treow

 

on lyft lædan,     leohte bewunden,

beama beorhtost.     Eall þæt beacen wæs

begoten mid golde.     Gimmas stodon

fægere æt foldan sceatum,     swylce þær fife wæron

uppe on þam eaxlgespanne.     Beheoldon þær engel dryhtnes ealle

 

fægere þurh forðgesceaft.     Ne wæs ðær huru fracodes gealga,

ac hine þær beheoldon     halige gastas,

men ofer moldan,     ond eall þeos mære gesceaft.

Syllic wæs se sigebeam,     ond ic synnum fah,

forwunded mid wommum.     Geseah ic wuldres treow,

 

wædum geweorðode,     wynnum scinan,

gegyred mid golde;     gimmas hæfdon

bewrigene weorðlice     wealdendes treow.

Hwæðre ic þurh þæt gold     ongytan meahte

earmra ærgewin,     þæt hit ærest ongan

 

swætan on þa swiðran healfe.     Eall ic wæs mid sorgum gedrefed,

forht ic wæs for þære fægran gesyhðe.     Geseah ic þæt fuse beacen

wendan wædum ond bleom:     hwilum hit wæs mid wætan bestemed,

beswyled mid swates gange,     hwilum mid since gegyrwed.

Hwæðre ic þær licgende     lange hwile

 

beheold hreowcearig     hælendes treow,

oððæt ic gehyrde     þæt hit hleoðrode.

Ongan þa word sprecan     wudu selesta:

“Þæt wæs geara iu     (ic þæt gyta geman)

þæt ic wæs aheawen     holtes on ende,

 

astyred of stefne minum.     Genaman me ðær strange feondas,

geworhton him þær to wæfersyne,     heton me heora wergas hebban.

The Dream of the Rood (lines 1-31)

translated by Ayla Fudala from Old English

Listen

and I will tell you

how the highest of dreams

came to me at midnight

when all voices

were hushed in sleep.

It seemed I saw

a wondrous tree ascending into Heaven—sheathed in stars, wreathed in

gold, of beacons brightest. Gemstones studded all the corners of the Earth;

and the five finest adorned the cross-beam. All beings fair beheld there, by eternal decree, the Angel of the Lord. This was no criminal’s gallows; but  guarded by Holy Spirits, worshipped by men and all of glorious Creation.  Proud stood

the Tree of Victory and I, sin-stained, worry-wounded,

beheld it there: robed in light, shining with joys, gilded.

Yet beneath the gold

there stirred—I could perceive—

a struggle still, the wretched grasping;

as blood began to pour

down its right flank.

I was wrenched

with sorrow,

cowering

before the beautiful sight.

I saw that blazing beacon

shift its skin;

one moment soaked with sweat,

weeping blood,

the next armored in treasure.

It seemed as though

I laid there an eternity,

tortured,

sole witness to the Savior’s tree,

until at once

I heard that forest’s King

begin to speak:“I remember the dawn,

so long ago,

when from the edge of the woods

I was hewn down by men,

ripped from my roots.

I was made a spectacle

by cruel enemies,

commanded

to raise up criminals.”

translator's note​

This is a translation of the first thirty-one lines of “The Dream of the Rood,” believed to be the oldest Anglo-Saxon poem. I chose to focus my translation on the physicality and shifting nature of the Rood itself. The most significant change I made to the poem in order to highlight this physicality was to arrange the lines so that they created the shape of a cross. I wanted the poem to emulate the Ruthwell Monument, in which form and content are similarly united. The cross is only clearly defined on the left side, with the right side (where the Rood begins to bleed) left uneven, as though in the process of shifting its shape or dissolving. This emphasizes the constantly changing identity of the Rood—one moment a tree, the next moment a cross, and given a human voice throughout.

I also used language within the poem to bring out the multiplicity of the Rood’s nature, using the words “robed,” “flank,” “soaked with sweat,” “weeping blood,” and “armored” to suggest that the Rood itself also symbolizes a human body capable of both joy and suffering. In addition, I attempted to create yet another form for the Rood—that of a sword—by using the word “sheathed.” The Rood is a warrior, just as Christ—as described in this poem—is a warrior, not a meek victim. The Rood’s own story and body parallel the story and body of Christ: a lowly origin, suffering inflicted by malicious men and courageously endured, and a glorious finale as a worshiped figure ascending into heaven.

about the translator

AYLA FUDALA is a student at the University of Pennsylvania majoring in English and Environmental Studies. Ayla is from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and recently returned from studying abroad in London. Interested in the intersection of writing, visual art, and science, Ayla is currently working on a research project examining the writing, art, and ecology of fantasy worlds.

 

L'autre fille

Annie Ernaux

 

D’après l’état civil tu es ma sœur. Tu portes le même patronyme que le mien, mon nom de « jeune fille », Duchesne. Dans le livret de famille des parents presque en lambeaux, à la rubrique Naissance et Décès des Enfants issus du Mariage, nous figurons l’une au-dessous de l’autre. Toi en haut avec deux tampons de la mairie de Lillebonne (Seine-Inférieure), moi avec un seul—c’est dans un autre livret officiel que sera remplie pour moi la case décès, celui qui atteste de ma reproduction d’une famille, avec un autre nom.

 

Mais tu n’es pas ma sœur, tu ne l’as jamais été. Nous n’avons pas joué, mangé, dormi ensemble. Je ne t’ai jamais touchée, embrassée. Je ne connais pas la couleur de tes yeux. Je ne t’ai jamais vue. Tu es sans corps, sans voix, juste une image plate sur quelques photos en noir et blanc. Je n’ai pas de mémoire de toi. Tu étais déjà morte depuis deux ans et demi quand je suis née. Tu es l’enfant du ciel, la petite fille invisible dont on ne parlait jamais, l’absente de toutes les conversations. Le secret.

The Other Girl

translated from French by Jackson Gu

 

According to official records, we are sisters. We bear the same name, my maiden name, Duchesne. In our family’s tattered record book, under the category of Legitimate Children Born and Deceased, we appear one above the other: you above with two stamps from the city hall of Lille-bonne (Seine-Inférieure) and me below with one. My “deceased” box will be stamped in another book that belongs to the family I will have started under a different name.

 

But you are not my sister. You never were. We have never played together, eaten together, or slept together. I have never felt you or kissed you. I do not know the color of your eyes. I have never seen you. You are without body and voice. I have a few black and white photos of you but no memories. You had been dead two years by the time I was born. You are a child of the heavens, the invisible little girl of whom we never spoke, absent from all conversations. The secret.

translator's note​

French author Annie Ernaux spent her childhood in Yvetot, Normandy. Her works are often based on personal experiences. In 1984 she won the Prix Renaudot for her novel La place (A Man’s Place), a narrative in which she recounts her relationship with her father. Many of her works have been translated into English. L’autre fille (The Other Girl) is a short autobiographical novel in which Ernaux describes how she lived her childhood in the shadow of an older sister who had died before Ernaux was born. Her parents kept the secret from her, but over the years hints and photos led her to the truth. She realized she was a replacement that would never measure up.

During the translation process, I tried to stay as true as possible to the structure of the original text. Several modulations were necessary, as French employs the preposition “of” much more frequently than does English. However, repeated use of “of” sounds heavy in English. Another notable feature is verb tense. The French passé composé tense can be translated as either the simple past tense or the present perfect tense in English. In the second paragraph of the excerpt, the author repeatedly uses passé composé, so I carefully considered which English equivalent more accurately conveys the meaning. Both are perfectly viable options, but I decided on the present perfect to emphasize past pain that lingers in the present. Though short and deceivingly simple, the excerpt required careful consideration, as every word conveys the feelings of disheartenment and inferiority felt by the narratrice.

about the translator

JACKSON GU is a sophomore majoring in Economics and French at the University of Pennsylvania. Raised in Canada, he was exposed to French at an early age, but it wasn’t until his junior year of high school that he discovered his passion for the language.

 

Extrait de Bonjour tristesse

Françoise Sagan

Sur ce sentiment inconnu dont l’ennui, la douceur m’obsèdent, j’hésite à apposer le nom, le beau nom grave de tristesse. C’est un sentiment si complet, si égoïste que j’en ai presque honte alors que la tristesse m’a toujours paru honorable. Je ne la connaissais pas, elle, mais l’ennui, le regret, plus rarement le remords. Aujourd’hui, quelque chose se replie sur moi comme une soie, énervante et douce, et me sépare des autres.

Cet été-là j’avais dix-sept ans et j’étais parfaitement heureuse. Les « autres » étaient mon père et Elsa, sa maîtresse. Il me faut tout de suite expliquer cette situation qui peut paraître fausse. Mon père avait quarante ans, il était veuf depuis quinze ; c’était un homme jeune, plein de vitalité, de possibilités, et, à ma sortie de pension, deux ans plus tôt, je n’avais pas pu ne pas comprendre qu’il vécût avec une femme. J’avais moins vite admis qu’il en changeât tous les six mois ! Mais bientôt sa séduction, cette vie nouvelle et facile, mes dispositions m’y amenèrent. C’était une homme léger, habile en affaires, toujours curieux et vite lassé, et qui plaisait aux femmes. Je n’eus aucun mal à l’aimer, et tendrement, car il était bon, généreux, gai, et plein d’affection pour moi. Je n’imagine pas de meilleur ami ni de plus distrayant. A ce début d’été, il poussa même la gentillesse jusqu’à me demander si la compagnie d’Elsa, sa maîtresse actuelle, ne m’ennuierait pas pendant les vacances. Je ne pus que l’encourager car je savais son besoin des femmes et que, d’autre part, Elsa ne nous fatiguerait pas. C’était une grande fille rousse, mi-créature, mi-mondaine, qui faisait de la figuration dans les studios et les bars des Champs-Elysées. Elle était gentille, assez simple et sans prétentions sérieuses. Nous étions d’ailleurs trop heureux de partir, mon père et moi, pour faire objection à quoi que ce soit. Il avait loué, sur la Méditerranée, une grande villa blanche, isolée, ravissante, dont nous rêvions depuis les premières chaleurs de juin. Elle était bâtie sur un promontoire, dominant la mer, cachée de la route par un bois de pins ; un chemin de chèvres descendait à une petite crique dorée, bordée de rochers roux où se balançait la mer.

Les premiers jours furent éblouissants. Nous passions des heures sur la plage, écrasés de chaleur, prenant peu à peu une couleur saine et dorée, à l'exception d'Elsa qui rougissait et pelait dans d'affreuses souffrances. 

Mon père exécutait des mouvements de jambes compliqués pour faire disparaître un début d'estomac incompatible avec ses dispositions de Don Juan. Dès l'aube, j'étais dans l'eau, une eau fraîche et transparente où je m'enfouissais, où je m'épuisais en des mouvements désordonnés pour me laver de toutes les ombres, de toutes les poussières de Paris. Je m'allongeais dans le sable, en prenais une poignée dans ma main, le laissais s'enfuir de mes doigts en un jet jaunâtre et doux ; je me disais qu'il s'enfuyait comme le temps, que c'était une idée facile et qu'il était agréable d'avoir des idées faciles. C'était l’été.

Hello, Sadness

translated from French by Alexandra Bousquet-Chavanne

On this unknown sentiment whose distress and gentleness obsess me, I hesitate to place the name, the beautiful, grave name of sadness. It’s a sentiment so complex, so selfish that I am almost ashamed of it, though sadness has always seemed to me honorable. I did not know sadness, but distress, regret, and more rarely remorse. Today, something folds onto me like silk, irritating and soft, and separates me from others.

That summer I was 17 and perfectly happy. The “others” were my father and Elsa, his mistress. I must immediately explain this situation which could appear false. My father was 40 years of age, he had been a widower for 15; he was young, full of vitality, of possibilities, and, upon my exit from boarding school two years earlier, I could not have been unable to understand his living with a woman. I less quickly accepted that he changed them every six months! But soon his seduction, this new and effortless life, my dispositions brought me around to it. He was improvident, clever in business, always curious and quickly weary, and he appealed to women. I had no trouble loving him, and tenderly, because he was good, generous, cheerful, and full of affection for me. I cannot imagine a better friend nor a more distracting one. At the onset of summer, he even pushed his kindness as far as to ask me if the company of Elsa, his current mistress, would bother me during the holidays. I could only encourage him because I knew of his need for women, and on the other hand, Elsa would not bore us. She was a tall redhead, half-creaturesque, half-worldly, who made appearances in the studios and bars of the Champs-Elysées. She was agreeable, simple, and without serious demands. Anyway, my father and I were too delighted to leave to object to anything. He had rented a large white villa on the Mediterranean, isolated, ravishing, of which we had dreamed since the first heat of June. It was built on a promontory, dominating the sea, concealed from the road by a forest of pine; a goats’ path made its way down to a small golden cove, bordered by red rocks against which the sea swung.

 

The first days were dazzling. We spent hours on the beach, crushed by the heat, gradually adopting a healthy golden color, with the exception of Elsa who reddened and peeled in horrid suffering.

 

My father conducted complicated motions to make his expanding stomach, incompatible with his Don Juan dispositions, disappear. From dawn, I was in the water; a fresh and translucent water where I submerged myself, where I exhausted myself with disorderly movements, to wash myself of all the shadows, of all the dust of Paris. I lay in the sand, took a handful in my hand, let it escape from my fingers in a soft yellow stream; I told myself that it fled like time, that this was a simple idea and that it was pleasant to have simple ideas. It was summer.

translator's note​

I have translated an excerpt from the first chapter of the French novel, Bonjour tristesse (Hello, Sadness), popular and scandalous in its time. Françoise Sagan (1935-2004) was only 17 years old when she wrote the novel, published in 1954. The plot is based on her own experience vacationing in the South of France with her father, and the character of Cécile is in many ways representative of her own self.

Though I was educated in the French system, I never had the opportunity to study Bonjour tristesse until the fall semester of my senior year at Penn. I enrolled in a French literature and cinema course titled “La France depuis 1944: Femmes, Films et Société” (“France since 1944: Women, Films, and Society”), for which students had to read the novel in the context of the scandal its female authorship provoked. Sagan writes bold opinions on love, fidelity, and marriage, and details intimate sexual experiences—all of which were unacceptable for an upper-class woman in the 1950s.

I chose to translate this passage because it is very demonstrative of the themes Sagan focuses on throughout the rest of the novel, as it hints to the provocative, non-conforming, and alluring lifestyle that Cécile and her father lead. This work has become a favorite of mine and although it has been difficult to translate the beauty and elegance of Sagan’s diction and sentence structure into the English language, I believe it is important to share it with an English readership.

about the translator

ALEXANDRA BOUSQUET-CHAVANNE is a member of the University of Pennsylvania class of 2015, majoring in English with a Creative Writing concentration and minoring in Hispanic Studies. Raised by French parents, she attended a French school in New York before moving to Philadelphia, where she developed a passion for French literature. Alexandra is an aspiring writer and editor who hopes to go into book publishing and possibly translation.