Slauerhoff: Letters at Sea (From Dutch)

Letters at Sea
By Jan Slauerhoff
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

They're read and re-read in repeated anguish 
Even though their contents were already known,
Made of the same stuff of life in every language,
Worn down to the last word in the long run.

Yet, opened back up after lonely meals
At night on watch, in bunks, when tales are over, 
Their penstrokes still have nourishment that heals
Those who have had such loneliness to suffer. 

Between 'My Dear' and 'Yours Truly' there's one
Story of island, town, home, son or daughter,
Which births and marriages and deaths rephrase.

After so many journeys, it's as if a haze
Shrouds what they knew on land. They are alone,
One with the ship, consorting with the water.

The Original:

Brieven op Zee

Gelezen worden ze ontelbre malen,
Al was de inhoud haast vooruit geweten,
Van ’t zelfde levensstof in alle talen
En op den duur tot op het woord versleten.

Toch weer ontvouwd, na ’t eenzaam avondeten,
Des nachts op wacht, te kooi en na ’t verhalen;
Voor hen die zooveel eenzaamheid verbeten
Is uit de letters leeftocht nog te halen.

Tusschen lieve en liefhebbende steeds staat er
Van kroost, huis, dorp en eiland weer ’t alleen
Bij trouw, geboorte en dood gevarieerd relaas.

Na tal van reizen is het of een waas
’t Bekende aan land omhult, men is alleen
En hoort bij ’t schip en houdt het met het water.


Pushkin: My Talisman (From Russian)

My Talisman
By Alexander Pushkin
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

Preserve my soul, my secret charm. 
Preserve in me my desperate life,
In days of rue, in days of strife. 
You were my gift in sorrow's swarm.


When sea around me, turned to storm, 
Beats me with waves of angry spume, 
When thunderclouds above me boom,
Preserve my soul, my secret charm. 


When fiery war sounds its alarm,
When dull peace wears away the mind,
When far in banishment I wind,
Preserve my soul, my secret charm. 


Sacred seduction's guileful arm,
The magic beacon of my day,
Now darkened, changed, has gone its way. 
Preserve my soul, my secret charm. 


Let not the memories as they swell 
Open this wounded heart to harm. 
Sleep now, sweet dreams. Great hopes, farewell.
Preserve my soul, my secret charm.

The Original:

Храни меня, мой талисман,
Храни меня во дни гоненья,
Во дни раскаянья, волненья:
Ты в день печали был мне дан.

Когда подымет океан
Вокруг меня валы ревучи,
Когда грозою грянут тучи, —
Храни меня, мой талисман.

В уединеньи чуждых стран,
На лоне скучного покоя,
В тревоге пламенного боя
Храни меня, мой талисман.

Священный сладостный обман,
Души волшебное светило...
Оно сокрылось, изменило...
Храни меня, мой талисман.

Пускай же ввек сердечных ран
Не растравит воспоминанье.
Прощай, надежда; спи, желанье;
Храни меня, мой талисман.

Camoes: Opening of the Lusiadas (From Portuguese)


"Would you not like to be understood for what you were in your own time rather than what some will make of you? We live short lives, try to make our mark, hoping for some kind of afterlife in memories about us. We owe it to past people to try to understand them, just as we hope future people will respect us."

— Patricia Crone in The Qur'anic Pagans and Related Matters

Luíz Vaz de Camões was a scholar, courtier, sailor, colonial administrator and playwright of the Portuguese Renaissance. Oh, and a poet too. Here translated are the first 18 stanzas (constituting a proem) of the first canto of Os Lusíadas, the Portuguese national epic. The actual action of the poem starts immediately after the last stanza translated here. Camões is one of very few epic poets to write about historical events that he himself had participated in. (The only other that comes to mind is Alonso de Ercilla, author of La Araucana "The Araucaniad" a brilliant and horrifyingly disturbing epic about the Spanish conquest of Chile.) I may or may not do more from the Lusiadas. It's not a book from which it is easy to select manageable excerpts that hang together on their own. For some rambling thoughts on translating Camões see my post On Translating Camões on my other blog.

Landeg White said of his own translation  into English of the Lusiadas "...in retrospect, my translation has divested the poem of its imperialistic, nationalistic and colonial intention by playing down the multiple adjectives and finding alternative narratives for nouns and verbs in the poem."

One can hardly blame White for this.

Modern performances of medieval plays find various ways to deal with the antisemitism often pervasive in such plays. Dialogue can be recast, certain scenes may be removed, or the staging may be done in a way that plays to how a modern viewer would feel about what they're seeing. The aim is to make the play work better for a modern audience with modern sensibilities. But in doing this kind of thing to works that are "problematic" (last time I'll use the P-word I promise), there seems to be a point where you are essentially pretending that the original is something other than it is, that its creator was something other than what they really were, or even that history did not happen as really it did.

I don't feel the need to prettify this poem. Camões was a full believer in the colonial civilizing mission. With a certainty and a zeal that would not have disgraced an Umayyad Caliph or even Henry Kissinger, Camões believed in the superiority of what he believed to be his civilization, and its obligation to impose its order on the rest of the world for that world's own good. There is no handwaving away the bloodiness of European expansionism either. To translate Camões as the poet I wish he had been, instead of the poet that he was, simply does not sit right with me. The things that make the Lusiadas worth reading, and worth translating, are legion. But neither I nor my reader can have them without dealing with certain things.

We do not have to make Camões' mistake of thinking all things revolve around Christendom and its history. Camões' eructations about expanding "Faith and Empire" are not so different from those of medieval Muslim poets glorifying more or less the same thing in Arabic, where the word for it was jihād. Tariq ibn Ziyad didn't cross the straights that bear his name for the greater glory of cultural exchange anymore than the British colonized India to give it a railway system. Artistic exaltations of conquest and domination have existed in every empire for as long as empires have existed. If that were all that this poem was, there would be little to explain its appeal to centuries of readers, little to distinguish it either from its counterparts in other languages, or from its numerous imitations in Portuguese (which prompted one critic to describe Portuguese epic as a fungus growth.)

In the Lusiadas, we see a European poet confronted for the first time with questions of how to deal with many alien things. No other Renaissance European epic contains so many sprawling nationalities. No other is so propelled by the excitement of the first-hand experience of a "New World." Camões is — and Landeg White is right to dwell on this point — the first European poet to write about the tropics who had actually been there. He can be as fun a narrator as Dante, and some of his narrative tactics were unparalleled because they had to be, grappling as they did with both the geographic discoveries and the scientific revolutions of his time. His Vasco Da Gama is not an epic hero, but — just as Camões was during his time overseas — a human being with a job to do, and little patience for the likes of Aeneas who was such an incompetent seaman that he lost his helmsman on a clear night. 

The Portuguese empire had begun to unravel in Camões' day. The French and English, eventually joined by the Dutch, were gaining both territory and trade access at Portugal's expense, both in the Indian Ocean and elsewhere. Portugal just didn't have the capital needed to sustain a large navy on a scale comparable to other European powers, and lacked the institutions needed to continually train large enough groups with the specialized skills needed for effective overseas colonial administration.
When we read the Lusiadas we are reading of things that had already happened, however recently.  The later books especially have strong whiff of elegy. As Ausiàs March put it: temps d'avenir en negun be·m pot caure, / aquell passat en mi és lo millor.

If in the proem Camões looks to King Sebastião with the optimistic hope of a reinvigorated age of expansion for doughty Portugal, he is also doing what is expected of him. His letter home from Goa strongly implies that he could sense the jig was basically up. Camões spares no spleen in attacking the world of government officialdom, greedy merchants, the commercial racketeering of the spice-trade either in the Lusiadas or in his letter home. It never seems to have fully sunk in for him that overseas exploration and colonization was largely an expression of commercial interests. Camões will have none of it.

For him — at least, in his poetry — Europe’s discovery of the world's water-routes is to be seen as a crusade against the partes infidelium, despite his recognition of the commercial venture that it increasingly was and in many ways had always been. The focus on overseas exploration as essential to missionary warfare gave him a more convenient way to think of it. Camões' hostility to Islam in particular should be understood in context both of this, and of the broader European background. In the 16th century, the Ottoman Empire was a rival super-power. Constantinople had fallen less than a hundred years earlier, Turkish armies were expanding in North Africa and the Balkans. The first siege of Vienna was still within living memory. The Battle of Lepanto occurred while Camões was writing this poem.

We do not need to forget history to remember that some of it was still yet to happen. In reading Camões, the modern notion of Muslims as the victims of history is an anachronism. It gains its force from global developments that would not take place until centuries after both Camões and Portugal's imperial ambitions had rotted to dust. The Lusiadas, as a poem, transcends them both "and is the lovelier because we know / it has gone beyond itself, as great things go."

From The Lusiads
By Luís Vaz de Camões
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

1

These are the tales of arms and matchless men
Who from our Portugal's far western shore,
Journeyed to Taprobana and beyond
By oceans nobody had braved before,
And in combat and crises held their own 
By drawing on more than human skill, in war
Among faraway peoples, to bring the name
Of a New Kingdom, and earn it deathless fame;

2

And glorious memory of that line of kings
Who through the ages magnified the expanse
Of the Faith and Empire, and kept havocking
Asia and Africa's degenerate lands; 
And the fame of men who did immortal things
Whose names are now immune to death's commands. 
I will spread their song wherever there are men
So long as Art and Invention helm my pen. 

3  

Tell no more tales about the subtle Greek
Or the Trojan refugee on epic seas,
Or Roman Trajan or grand Alexander
With all their Asiatic victories. 
Look to the men who made Neptune and Mars
Obey: I sing the daring Portuguese.
Have done with all that the Ancient Muses prize.
A higher code of honor is on the rise.

4  

And you, nymphs of the Tagus, since you have
Birthed the new burning genius in me,
If I have ever paid your kindly river
The homage of my rustic poetry,
Return to me the tones of the sublime,
A style both grand-tongued and contemporary. 
Apollo, bless their stream as my lines run.
Make Portugal a Modern Helicon.

5  

Fill me with mighty firing cadences. 
Not with a piping goatherd's rude flute bars,
But the shout of battle horns that flames the cheek,
And stirs the breast, and steels the skin for wars.
Give me a new song equal to the feats
Of your people, proudly served by ruddy Mars,
To sing and spread their praise in space and time,
If verse can compass something so sublime. 



And you, Boy King, scion and guarantor
Of Lusitania's ancient liberty,  
No less a certain hope of increase for
Christendom's little empire on the sea, 
You who have put new terror in the Moor,
The marvel of our age, our destiny, 
Given to the world by God's all-willing reign
To win much of that world for God's own name. 



You, green and tender sapling from the tree
More precious in the heart of Christ than all
The other lineages of the West, 
Be it the Kaisers' or the Kings of Gaul, 
(Witness your coat of arms that bears the sign
Of victory against the Infidel
When Christ bestowed, as emblem to emboss,
The five wounds that he suffered on the cross.) 



You, mighty king, whose global realm the sun
Sees as it first comes up an Indian hill,
Then shines — mid-hemisphere — above your throne
Before casting a last beam at Brazil,
You whom we look upon to yoke and humble 
The scurvy horsemen spawned of Ishmael, 
The heathen Turk, and the Hindu believer
Drinking the waters of his hallowed river. 



Come set that majesty aside awhile
That in your youthful countenance I see
Already, and which in fullness of your years 
You'll bear to the temple of eternity;
Bend your magnanimous and kingly eyes
Earthward. Behold a loving eulogy
For my country's doughty feats in modern times
Given to the world in good and cadenced rhymes. 

10 

Here you will see a love of country, driven
Not by base greed, but everlasting worth.
It is no base reward to be renowned
For voicing the praises of my land of birth.
Listen, and you will note the names extolled
Of men of whom you are the lord on earth.
Judge for yourself: would it be greater, then,  
To be king of the world, or of such men? 

11 

Listen. You will not hear of counterfeit
Exploits. We do not need the fantasies
Contrived and dreamt by other countries' Muses
Who glorify themselves in lies. For these 
Historic deeds I sing to you transcend
Fables, and would outstrip the vagaries
Of France's Roland, and Ariosto's too, 
Even if every word of them were true. 

12 

Instead I give you Nuno Álvarez
Grand servant of his kingdom and his king,
I give you Egas Moniz, Fuas Roupinho
Whose praise only Homer's lyre could rightly sing.
Arthur's knights yield to the twelve Portuguese
Of England, and Magriço's traveling.
And I will give you Lord da Gama's genius
Wresting the fame of wandering Aeneas.

13 

My liege, if what you want is equal stature
To Julius Caesar or to Charlemagne
Look to Afonso the first whose lance eclipsed
All foreign reputations in his reign;
Or João the first who kept this kingdom free
In victory against the steel of Spain;
Or João the second, conquered by no sword,
Or the fourth or fifth Afonso, or the third.

14 

Nor shall my verses fail to monument
Those heroes who in Kingdoms of the Dawn
By force of arms rose to such excellence
That your banner always triumphed in that sun: 
Peerless Pacheco, and fearsome Francisco
Whom the Tagus still mourns as it mourns his son,   
Albuquerque the fierce, Castro the brave,
And other men whose feats defeat the grave. 

15 

And while I sing to you of these, of you
My liege, I would not dare presume a thing. 
My liege, take up the reins of your own reign, 
And give me even greater stuff to sing. 
Let the world groan and gape already, sensing
The weight of your feats and your forces, King
Of African lands and Oriental seas,
Where you fulfill your destined victories. 

16 

On you the frightened Moor has fixed his eyes,
And sees his doom foretold in all you do. 
At a flash of you the rugged Indian
Will offer his cowed neck to yoke. For you
Lord Neptune's Thetys has prepared already
A dowry of her whole domain of blue. 
Held by your youth and beauty in such awe
She wants to win you for a son-in-law.  

17 

Today from Mount Olympus there gaze down
Your two grandfathers. Such renown they bore:
One for a golden angel-cherished Peace
The other for red works of bleeding War. 
In you they hope to witness resurrection
Of their heroic deeds and days once more,
Keeping a place, when all must cease to be
For you, in the temple of eternity. 

18 

But as your long reign rolls on slowly over
Your people, as they dearly wish it to, 
Look favorably on my boldness so 
My epic can become your epic too. 
You will see the salt sliver ocean cut 
By Portuguese Argonauts who will see you 
Are watching over them on wrath-green sea. 
Prepare to be invoked in jeopardy. 

Notes:

S1: Taprobana - the Greek, and later Latin, name for the island of Sri Lanka.

S3: The Greek is Odysseus, and the Trojan Aeneas.

S6: I.e. King Sebastião who had ascended to the throne at the age of 14.

S7: The victory is that won at the Battle of Ourique, south of the Tagus, where Afonso Henriques defeated the Almoravids. Legend had it that Christ appeared on the field promising the deliverance of Portugal. The five shields in the Portuguese coat of arms are said to represent the wounds of Christ.

S11: The final couplet in the original refers to different characters from Orlando Furioso and Orlando Inamorato.

S12: Egas Moniz and Fuas Roupinho were allies of Afonso I. Nuno álvares was a hero of the battle of Aljubarrota. The original references the myth of the Twelve Peers of France, and not Arthur's knights. But I felt that the Twelve Knights of the Roundtable did more in English with little consequence for the poem beyond.

S14: Description of renowned men from Portuguese India. Duarte Pacheco Pereira conquered the Malabar coast. Francisco and his son Lourenço de Almeida established a line of fortresses from Sofala to Cochin. Afonso de Albuquerque conquered Goa. 

The Original:

As armas e os barões assinalados,
Que da ocidental praia Lusitana,
Por mares nunca de antes navegados,
Passaram ainda além da Taprobana,
Em perigos e guerras esforçados,
Mais do que prometia a força humana,
E entre gente remota edificaram
Novo Reino, que tanto sublimaram;

E também as memórias gloriosas
Daqueles Reis, que foram dilatando
A Fé, o Império, e as terras viciosas
De África e de Ásia andaram devastando;
E aqueles, que por obras valerosas
Se vão da lei da morte libertando;
Cantando espalharei por toda parte,
Se a tanto me ajudar o engenho e arte.

Cessem do sábio Grego e do Troiano
As navegações grandes que fizeram;
Cale-se de Alexandro e de Trajano
A fama das vitórias que tiveram;
Que eu canto o peito ilustre Lusitano,
A quem Neptuno e Marte obedeceram:
Cesse tudo o que a Musa antiga canta,
Que outro valor mais alto se alevanta.

E vós, Tágides minhas, pois criado
Tendes em mim um novo engenho ardente,
Se sempre em verso humilde celebrado
Foi de mim vosso rio alegremente,
Dai-me agora um som alto e sublimado,
Um estilo grandíloquo e corrente,
Porque de vossas águas, Febo ordene
Que não tenham inveja às de Hipocrene.

Dai-me uma fúria grande e sonorosa,
E não de agreste avena ou frauta ruda,
Mas de tuba canora e belicosa,
Que o peito acende e a cor ao gesto muda;
Dai-me igual canto aos feitos da famosa
Gente vossa, que a Marte tanto ajuda;
Que se espalhe e se cante no universo,
Se tão sublime preço cabe em verso.

E vós, ó bem nascida segurança
Da Lusitana antiga liberdade,
E não menos certíssima esperança
De aumento da pequena Cristandade;
Vós, ó novo temor da Maura lança,
Maravilha fatal da nossa idade,
Dada ao mundo por Deus, que todo o mande,
Para do mundo a Deus dar parte grande;

Vós, tenro e novo ramo florescente
De uma árvore de Cristo mais amada
Que nenhuma nascida no Ocidente,
Cesárea ou Cristianíssima chamada;
(Vede-o no vosso escudo, que presente
Vos amostra a vitória já passada,
Na qual vos deu por armas, e deixou
As que Ele para si na Cruz tomou)

Vós, poderoso Rei, cujo alto Império
O Sol, logo em nascendo, vê primeiro;
Vê-o também no meio do Hemisfério,
E quando desce o deixa derradeiro;
Vós, que esperamos jugo e vitupério
Do torpe Ismaelita cavaleiro,
Do Turco oriental, e do Gentio,
Que inda bebe o licor do santo rio;

Inclinai por um pouco a majestade,
Que nesse tenro gesto vos contemplo,
Que já se mostra qual na inteira idade,
Quando subindo ireis ao eterno templo;
Os olhos da real benignidade
Ponde no chão: vereis um novo exemplo
De amor dos pátrios feitos valerosos,
Em versos divulgado numerosos.

Vereis amor da pátria, não movido
De prémio vil, mas alto e quase eterno:
Que não é prémio vil ser conhecido
Por um pregão do ninho meu paterno.
Ouvi: vereis o nome engrandecido
Daqueles de quem sois senhor superno,
E julgareis qual é mais excelente,
Se ser do mundo Rei, se de tal gente.

Ouvi, que não vereis com vãs façanhas,
Fantásticas, fingidas, mentirosas,
Louvar os vossos, como nas estranhas
Musas, de engrandecer-se desejosas:
As verdadeiras vossas são tamanhas,
Que excedem as sonhadas, fabulosas;
Que excedem Rodamonte, e o vão Rugeiro,
E Orlando, inda que fora verdadeiro,

Por estes vos darei um Nuno fero,
Que fez ao Rei o ao Reino tal serviço,
Um Egas, e um D. Fuas, que de Homero
A cítara para eles só cobiço.
Pois pelos doze Pares dar-vos quero
Os doze de Inglaterra, e o seu Magriço;
Dou-vos também aquele ilustre Gama,
Que para si de Eneias toma a fama.

Pois se a troco de Carlos, Rei de França,
Ou de César, quereis igual memória,
Vede o primeiro Afonso, cuja lança
Escura faz qualquer estranha glória;
E aquele que a seu Reino a segurança
Deixou com a grande e próspera vitória;
Outro Joane, invicto cavaleiro,
O quarto e quinto Afonsos, e o terceiro.

Nem deixarão meus versos esquecidos
Aqueles que nos Reinos lá da Aurora
Fizeram, só por armas tão subidos,
Vossa bandeira sempre vencedora:
Um Pacheco fortíssimo, e os temidos
Almeidas, por quem sempre o Tejo chora;
Albuquerque terríbil, Castro forte,
E outros em quem poder não teve a morte.

E enquanto eu estes canto, e a vós não posso,
Sublime Rei, que não me atrevo a tanto,
Tomai as rédeas vós do Reino vosso:
Dareis matéria a nunca ouvido canto.
Comecem a sentir o peso grosso
(Que pelo mundo todo faça espanto)
De exércitos e feitos singulares,
De África as terras, e do Oriente os mares,

Em vós os olhos tem o Mouro frio,
Em quem vê seu exício afigurado;
Só com vos ver o bárbaro Gentio
Mostra o pescoço ao jugo já inclinado;
Tétis todo o cerúleo senhorio
Tem para vós por dote aparelhado;
Que afeiçoada ao gesto belo e tenro,
Deseja de comprar-vos para genro.

Em vós se vêm da olímpica morada
Dos dois avós as almas cá famosas,
Uma na paz angélica dourada,
Outra pelas batalhas sanguinosas;
Em vós esperam ver-se renovada
Sua memória e obras valerosas;
E lá vos tem lugar, no fim da idade,
No templo da suprema Eternidade.

Mas enquanto este tempo passa lento
De regerdes os povos, que o desejam,
Dai vós favor ao novo atrevimento,
Para que estes meus versos vossos sejam;
E vereis ir cortando o salso argento
Os vossos Argonautas, por que vejam
Que são vistos de vós no mar irado,
E costumai-vos já a ser invocado.

Camoes: Hopeless Case (From Portuguese)

Hopeless Case
By Luís de Camões
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

They all consider me a hopeless case
Seeing me so addicted to my cares,
Cutting myself off from the human race,
Forgotten in humanity's affairs. 
But I who twice have trekked across the globe 
And learned the way of it from sea to sea,
Find him a vulgar, clueless little rube
Who has not been refined in my agony. 

So land and sea and winds revolve and roll. 
Let other men quest after wealth and fame,
Conquering cold, cast-iron, calm and flame,
And leave me alone in honest beggary 
Happily carrying to eternity 
Your gorgeous face incised upon my soul.

The Original:

Julga-me a gente toda por perdido,
Vendo-me, tão entregue a meu cuidado,
Andar sempre dos homens apartado,
E de humanos commercios esquecido.
Mas eu, que tenho o mundo conhecido,
E quasi que sôbre elle ando dobrado,
Tenho por baixo, rustico, e enganado
Quem não he com meu mal engrandecido.

Vá revolvendo a terra, o mar, e o vento,
Honras busque e riquezas a outra gente,
Vencendo ferro, fogo, frio e calma.
Que eu por amor sómente me contento
De trazer esculpido eternamente
Vosso formoso gesto dentro da alma.

Slauerhoff: Comfort in Illness (From Dutch)

Comfort in Illness
By Jan Slauerhoff
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

Pizarro at age fifty still had not 
Gained much fame from the dangers of his life.
With plumes decking the hair of his first wife,
A second tended to his family plot. 

They knew him as a madcap murderer, 
Guilty of every kind of felony.
But that was what they called morality
On Hispaniola in his fiftieth year. 

His chance came: on a rotting caravel
He made the journey none had made before
And with a hundred men conquered Peru. 

He was fifty. I'm thirty. Who can tell
If I'll discover the sixth continent's shore,
Though walking now is more than I can do? 


The Original:

Ziekentroost

Pizarro had de vijftig overschreden
En weinig roem behaald uit veel gevaar;
Zijn eerste vrouw droeg veeren in het haar
En op zijn kleine akker werkte een tweede.

Hij stond bekend als drieste moordenaar,
Geen wet haast die hij niet had overtreden,
Maar dat behoorde tot de goede zeden
Op Hispaniola – hij was vijftig jaar.

Toen kwam de kans: met een vermolmd karveel
Maakte hij de reis die niemand vóór hem deed,
Veroverde met honderd man Peroe.

Vijftig was hij, ik dertig maar: wie weet
Ontdek ik niet het zesde werelddeel,
Al ben ik nu na een paar stappen moe?

Camoes: Sonnet of Change (From Portuguese)

Omnia Mutantur
By Luís de Camões
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

The times go changing. Fashions change. The ways
Of being change. Old credences grow strange. 
The world is all made up of whirls of change 
Invariably varying its face. 
Always the novel things that meet our gaze 
Are nothing like what we had hoped to see. 
Evil endures as scars in memory,
Good, if we find it, as the good old days.
Time covers earth with a green pinafore
That once was cloaked in snow, and rearranges
A dirge out of the song I once lived for. 
And yet apart from these everyday changes,
A single further change staggers me more:
Things are not changing as they changed before.

The Original:

Mudam-se os tempos, mudam-se as vontades,
Muda-se o ser, muda-se a confiança;
Todo o mundo é composto de mudança,
Tomando sempre novas qualidades.
Continuamente vemos novidades,
Diferentes em tudo da esperança;
Do mal ficam as mágoas na lembrança,
E do bem, se algum houve, as saudades.
O tempo cobre o chão de verde manto,
Que já coberto foi de neve fria,
E em mim converte em choro o doce canto.
E, afora este mudar-se cada dia,
Outra mudança faz de mor espanto:
Que não se muda já como soía.

Camoes: The Day I Was Born (From Portuguese)

The Day I Was Born
Luís Vaz de Camões
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

Let the day I was born die and be gone
Forever from all time that is or was. 
Let it never return or, if it does, 
Let an eclipse bear down upon the sun,

Let it black out and light go on the run,
The world show signs of being about to die,
And monsters spawn and blood rain from the sky,
And a mother be a stranger to her son.

Then let the people, ignorant and dazed,
Face pale in tears, ghastliness in the heart,
Reckon the world already come apart.   

O timid creatures, do not be amazed
That this day of all days beheld the birth
Of the most cursèd goddamned wretch on earth. 

The Original:

O dia em que eu nasci, morra e pereça,
Não o queira jamais o tempo dar,
Não torne mais ao mundo e, se tornar,
Eclipse nesse passo o sol padeça.

A luz lhe falte, o sol se lhe escureça,
Mostre o mundo sinais de se acabar,
Nasçam-lhe monstros, sangue chova o ar,
A mãe ao próprio filho não conheça.

As pessoas pasmadas, de ignorantes,
As lágrimas no rosto, a cor perdida,
Cuidem que o mundo já se destruiu.

Ó gente temerosa, não te espantes,
Que este dia deitou ao mundo a vida
Mais desgraçada que jamais se viu!

Fernando Pessoa: Where Is My Life Going (From Portuguese)

Where is my Life Going
By Fernando Pessoa
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

Where's my life going? Who is taking it? 
Why do I always do what I did not want to do?
What destiny in me keeps going in dark as yet? 
What part of me unknown to me is guiding me through?

My destiny has direction and a sense. 
My life hews to a certain scale and path.
But myself-awareness is just an outline sketch
Of what I do and am. I is more than that.

I do not know myself in what I know I do.
I never reach an end with end in mind.
The pain or pleasure I embrace is something else. I move
On. But in me there is no I that moves in kind.

Who am I, Lord, in your darkness and your smoke?
What soul is in my soul besides my own?
Why give me feelings of an aim if I just don't
Seek the aim I seek, if nothing in me goes on

Except by an effort of my steps not of my doing?
Except by a fate hidden from me in my acts?
Why am I conscious if consciousness is illusion?
What am I between What and the Facts?

Shut my eyes! Take the sight of my soul away.
Illusions! Since I know nothing of life or me, 
May I at least enjoy that nothing with no faith
May I at least sleep on through living, like a forgotten beach.

The Original:

Para onde vai a minha vida, e quem a leva?
Por que faço eu sempre o que não queria?
Que destino contínuo se passa em mim na treva?
Que parte de mim, que eu desconheço, é que me guia?

Meu destino tem um sentido e tem um jeito,
A minha vida segue uma rota e uma escala
Mas o consciente de mim é o esboço imperfeito
Daquilo que faço e sou: não me iguala

Não me compreendo nem no que, compreendendo, faço.
Não atinjo o fim ao que faço pensando num fim.
É diferente do que é o prazer ou a dor que abraço.
Passo, mas comigo não passa um eu que há em mim.

Quem sou, senhor, na tua treva e no teu fumo?
Além da minha alma, que outra alma há na minha?
Por que me destes o sentimento de um rumo,
Se o rumo que busco não busco, se em mim nada caminha

Senão com um uso não meu dos meus passos, senão
Com um destino escondido de mim nos meus actos?
Para que sou consciente se a consciência é uma ilusão?
Que sou entre quê e os fatos?

Fechai-me os olhos, toldai-me a vista da alma!
Ó ilusões! Se eu nada sei de mim e da vida,
Ao menos eu goze esse nada, sem fé, mas com calma,
Ao menos durma viver, como uma praia esquecida…

Fernando Pessoa: Autopsychography (From Portuguese)

Ἑτεροψυχογραφία
By Ferdinand Parson
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

The poet plays an actor
So good he can succeed
At acting like he feels
The pain he feels indeed,

And all who read his words
Feel in the pain he wrote
Neither of the pains he felt
But just the one they don't.

So on round its toy rails

The thing called heart will wind, 
A wound-up model train
To entertain your mind.

The Original:

Autopsicografia
Fernando Pessoa
                                 
O poeta é um fingidor.
Finge tão completamente
Que chega a fingir que é dor
A dor que deveras sente.

E os que lêem o que escreve,
Na dor lida sentem bem,
Não as duas que ele teve,
Mas só a que eles não têm.

E assim nas calhas de roda
Gira, a entreter a razão,
Esse comboio de corda
Que se chama coração.

Anonymous: The Song of Igor's Raid Pt 1. (From Old Kievan)

Okay this one is a bit weird I know. See my note after the translation for more.

The opening of the Yngvarrskvíða, the Hingwareslēoþ,
The Raid of Hinguar Swenaldson. 
(A.K.A Yngvarr Sveinnaldsson. A.K.A Igor Svyatoslavich) 

The Song of Igor's Raid (Opening) 
By Anonymous
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

Might it be time  to tell O brothers
the stern story  in speech of yore, 
of the hard campaign   of Prince Hinguar,
of soulhardy Hinguar  Swenald's son? 

And from the first  as we fashion song 

let our thought hold to things that happened, 
not the skald conceits  that Boyan spun. 
Seersinger Boyan  when he sensed the time 
to speak men's lauds let his thought fly 
as warblers treeward, as groundtearing greywolves,
as zaffre eagles  under clouds.

They say he'd recall all   ancient deathfeuds

then send ten falcons  at a flock of swans
and the first overtaken gave forth a song,
a song for old Yerslaf  for strongheart Swen
who knifed king Reded  as the Kasogs watched,
a song for Román fair son of Swenald.  

But that, my Brothers,  was Boyan alone

who sent no Falcons at flock-ready swans.
He set his own seer-tuned fingers
to thrum live strings till they themselves
twanged in praise-song to princes' glory.

It is time, Brothers, to begin the tale

from ancient Waldamar to our own day's Hinguar
who reinforced his fortress mind,
who stropped his heart with hard manliness
who steeped his soul in warchief spirit
to take brave men  and march to battle
against our kin-killers in Kuman land
for the name and lands  and lives of the Rus. 

Comments/Justifications:


A terminological note (one of many on this post) is in order. Old Kievan seems to me the most appropriate term for what English-speaking linguists refer to as Old East Slavic (and in some other languages too, e.g. German Altostslawisch.) This has its value, since its speakers probably did refer to it, for a time, as simply the словѣньскъй ѩзꙑкъ or the словѣньская рѣчь. In Russian it is still common to call it "Old Russian" which is not inaccurate since it is the ancestor — more or less — of Russian as we know it, and it is not out of whack to think of it as the Роусьскꙑи ꙗꙁꙑкъ. But it will not due to identify that too closely with the Русский Язык. For it is no less legitimate to call it "Old Ukrainian" or "Old Belorusian" (Ukrainians and Belorusians themselves usually do just that.) In more ways than one, national equivalences should not be assumed here. Even the term "Old East Slavic" — apart from being a bit of a mouthful — is somewhat misleading to non-specialists in implying that this was what all East Slavs spoke. It was not. For one, it was very different from the vernacular of the Old Novgorod birch letters which are so divergent from the rest of Slavic that they have required the history of East Slavic to be completely be rethought. 


This was the language of Kievan Rus, and is to be identified — if anything — with that entity. In addition to давньоукраїнська мова "Old Ukrainian" some Ukrainian linguists also use the term давньокиївська мова "Old Kievan" to refer to the language. This seems to me to be the best option, and I have adopted it into my English. Though I realize that even this is open to objection, since it invites identification with a city rather than a loose collection of princepalities. "Kievan Rus" is a modern historical term, and the centrality the city of Kiev to it should not be overblown.


It's been a long time since I looked at Old Kievan, and I forgot how powerful the Слово о Пълку Игоревѣ "Song of Igor's Campaign" (pronounced at the time as /slówo o pǝłkú íɣorʲɛwi̯e:/ and better translated as "Saga of Igor's Raid") truly is.


I decided to translate the opening of it, and the result is unorthodox. You see, it occurred to me to use an adaptation of Germanic alliterative meter, and somewhere along the line this triggered the impulse to give the heroes' names in their de-slavicized Germanic forms.


And, really, why not? Yngvarr was part of the Hrøriksson dynasty after all. Or rather Igor was part of the Ryurikovich dynasty. Yeah, I know it's not polite to do things that remind Russian nationalists that they owe their ethnogenesis, and indeed their ethnonym, to a period of being ruled by Norse-speakers who called themselves Ros. But, then, why would I ever debase myself by being polite to Russian nationalists? (Note the Swedish toponym Roslagen and Ruotsi, the Finnish name for Sweden.)


To get an idea of the ethnic composition of the ruling class of early medieval Rus(ia), take a look at the following list of the names of the Rus(sian) delegation to Byzantium in 944.

Ivor, Vuefast, Iskusev, Sludy, Uleb, Kanitsar, Sfandr, Shigobern, Prasten, Turdov, Libiar, Fastov, Grim, Sfrikov, Akun, Kary, Tudkov, Karshev, Egri, Vliskov, Voist Voiov, Istr, Aminodov, Bernov, Yavtyag, Gunarev, Aldan, Kol, Klekov, Sten, Etonov, Sfirka; Alvad, Gudov, Frudov, Tuadov, Mutur Ustin, Adun, Adulb, Iggvlad, Uleb, Frutan, Brun, Gomol, Kutsi, Emig, Turobid, Furosten, Bruny, Roald, Gunastr, Frasten, Igeld, Turbern, Mone, Ruald, Sven, Aldan, Tilen, Aspubran, Vuzlev... 
There are a handful of Slavic names, but most of these Rus(sian) diplomats have transparently Norse names recognizable as:
Ívarr, Vígfastr, Ulfr, Sígbjörn, Þórðr, Svanhildr, Fastr, Grímr, Sverkir, Hákon, Kárr, Eiríkr, ámundi, Björn, Haddingr, Gunnarr, Halfdan, Kolr, Klœingr, Steinn, Hallvarðr, Fróði, Gamall, Eysteinn, Auðun, Aðúlfr, Ingivaldr, Óleifr, Brúni, Hróaldr, Hemigr Gunnfastr, Ingjaldr, Þurstain, Þorbjörn, Sveinn, Stýrr, ásbranðr, Ísleifr..... 
By the time in which this poem is set, the Russ had mostly assimilated linguistically to the Slavs, and had been intermarrying with them for two centuries. Archaeology shows that the Norse complexion of the nucleus of Kievan Rus when it emerged was not as prominent as with other Rus. It will not do to leave the reader with the impression that the elites of 12th century Kievan Rus maintained a discreet Scandinavian identity. But there are curious implications for the past as viewed by the narrator when, for example, he places the poet Boyan the "nightingale of eldertime" (соловию стараго времени) in the court of Yaroslav (Jаrizleifr) the Wise who was a Norse Rosman in every sense. As scholars within Russia have long noted, that is far from being the only thing about the figure of Boyan in this poem that reminds one of Norse Skalds. 

Even if the Norse cultural element of the Rus elites after the 10th century proves to be more extensive than previously imagined, there would still be nothing to necessarily make the Slovo o Polku Igoreve unRussian  (anachronistic as the concept may be.) After all the Chanson de Roland celebrates the heroes of a Germanic-speaking ruling class, and French people don’t seem to mind that anymore than they mind taking the name of their country of France from the Latin translation (Francia) of a word for "Frankland." (Just like the descendants of East Slavs took their name of Rus from the Nordic Rosmen.) 

My choice to up the Germanicism in this Памятник Дервнерусской Литературы is to be understood as artistic, and not in any sense documentary. It is not a claim of historical fact. My distaste for Russian nationalists, and the slavophile Russian-American Putinheads I keep encountering, definitely had something to do with it, too. (I think I get the problem Heaney was feeling when he dumped all that Irish baggage into Old English epic. I guess I can’t flog him for it anymore.)

Now about the names of the poem as I translate it.


Hinguar is the Old English equivalent to the Scandinavian Yngvarr (-> Igor). I suppose I could have gone with Ivor in English too, but I didn't like it as much.

If and when I translate more of this poem, Olga, Oleg and Gleb will get regermanicized to Helga, Helge and Godlaf. Vladimer/Volodimer has become Waldemar. (In this case it is unclear whether the Slavic name was coined in imitation of Germanic, or the reverse. But it seems that the Rurikids named Vladimer did go by Waldemar in Norse. The modern form Vladimir ending in -mir instead of -mer is due to folk etymology.)
Swenald/Swenaldson is an anglicization of Norse Sveinnald/Sveinnaldssonn of which Svyatoslav (originally Swentoslawǝ) is actually a superficial Slavicization, even though it might seem at first glance to have a transparent Slavic etymology.
Svyatoslav along with a bunch of other seemingly Slavic names like Mstislav and Yaroslav appear to actually be slavicizations, or Slavic accomodations, of Scandinavian names. In Rus' until the beginning of the thirteenth century these names (and also Vladimir) are attested almost exclusively in the House of Hrørik/Riurik, and the people who bear them generally have similar-sounding Germanic names when referred to in Germanic sources. Svyatoslav is SveinnaldMstislav appears to be an equivalent to either Sveinn or Sveinnki, and Varangians named Yaroslav in Slavic usually go by the name Jerisleifr (lit. War-heir) in Norse (and thus Yerslaf in my English.) And of course Vladimer/Volodimer is a re-naturalization of Waldemar.

The vast majority of this poem's cast of heroic characters turn out to have Germanic names that are, at most, only barely concealed. In hindsight, my instinct to translate this as Germanic alliterative verse is oddly serendipitous.


My Romanization below is meant to give a rough idea of the sounds of a conservative southern dialect of 12th century Old Kievan. I represent ѣ as ē, because it originates from what was a long vowel at a certain point in the history of Common Slavic. I am agnostic about its East Slavic realizations, which cannot have been uniform. It seems to have been lower than <e> in the earliest stages of most Slavic dialects. But in East Slavic, alongside varieties that suggest a lower vowel (e.g. dialectal Russian бялый for original бѣлый), we have those that suggest the opposite (e.g. Ukrainian білий.) One way to account for this (and it is a torturous one, given that there were multiple stages in which vowels were lengthened and shortened in pre-historic Slavic) is that, at some point length (or some other form of "prominence") was its most distinctive feature, and that at that point <ѣ> was lower than <e>. Thus /ɛ:/ or even /æ:/ as in the earliest Church Slavonic. As length became defunct, the prominence associated with length was reinterpreted as tenseness in those varieties of Slavic that have a higher vowel. 

The forms of Old Kievan that gave rise to forms like бялый, like Old Novgorodian judging by loanwords into Finnic, would have had an un-tensed ѣ pronounced something like /æ/. 
Many if not most varieties of Old Kievan had a tensed ѣ which probably implies a value of /(j)e/ (like in the final syllable of French marier /maʁie/) as opposed to normal <e> which would have been somewhat lower than in Modern Russian, and sounded like the final syllable of French mariait /maʁiɛ/ or English yet. Another way of putting it is that ѣ sounds like the first vowel of Russian эти (only preceded by a /j/ glide) and the normal <e> sounded like the first vowel of Modern Russian эта. The distinction is not contrastive in Modern Russian, but it was in Old Kievan. 
The в I transcribe as W, as it was quite plainly not the /v/ of Modern Russian, or of most Modern Slavic languages. Note, for example how the reduction of Ioanǝ "John" would have first produced /Iwan/ with a labial glide, in order to yeild modern IvanThe sounds transcribed as š, ts and ž are not the same as those of modern Russian ш, ц, ж either. In Old Kievan, these consonants were palatalized. Ts is phonetically [tsʲ] and does not cause backing of a following high vowel. (Thus пътици "birds" is pǝtitsi and not pronounced ptitsy like the corresponding Russian word.) Š and Ž sounded like the English Sh of sheep and the French J of jupe respectively. In other words, they were postalveolar /ʃ ʒ/ and not retroflex like the /ʂ ʐ/ in Modern Russian.
The ъ and ь are traditionally transcribed as ŭ and ĭ by Slavicists but the evidence for rounding (as opposed to simple backing) of the former is thin. I represent the former with ǝ to indicate a low back vowel with low prominence. The ĭ is in the neighborhood of /ɪ/, like in English hit or the value of и in Ukrainian.
Postvocalic G is a fricative, probably velar /ɣ/ rather than the glottal /ɦ/ of some Southern Russian dialects. So Игорь would be /'iɣorɪ/.

The Original:

Не лѣпо ли ны бяшеть братiе
начати старыми словесы
трудьныхъ повѣстіи
о пълкоу Игоревѣ
Игоря Святъславлича

Начати же ся тъи пѣсни
по былинамъ сего времени
а не по замышленію Бояню
Боянъ бо вѣщіи
аще кому хотяше
пѣснѣ творити
то растѣкашеться мыслію по древу
сѣрымь вълкомь по земли
шизымь орьломь подъ облакы

Помьняшеть бо рѣчь
пьрвыхъ временъ усобицѣ
тогда пущашеть
десять соколовъ
на стадо лебедѣи
которыѣ дотечаше
та преди пѣснь пояше
старому Ярославу
храброму Мьстиславу
иже зарѣза Редедю
предъ пълкы Касожьскыми
красьному Романови Святъславличю

Боянъ же братие не десять соколовъ
на стадо лебедѣи пущаше
нъ своѣ вѣщиѣ пьрсты
на живыѣ струны въскладаше
они же сами къняземъ
славу рокотаху

Почьнемъ же братіе повѣсть сию
отъ стараго Володимѣра
до нынѣшьняго Игоря
иже истягну умъ крѣпостію своею
и поостри сьрдьца своего мужествомь
напълнивъся ратьнаго духа
наведе своѣ храбрыѣ пълкы
на землю половѣцькую
за землю руськую

Transcription:

Ne lēpo li ny bjašetĭ, bratie
Načati starymi slowesy
Trudĭnyxǝ powēstii
O pǝlku Igorewē
Igorja Swjatǝslawliča

Načati že sja tǝi pēsni
po bylinnamǝ sego wremeni
A ne po zamyšleniju Bojanju
Bojanǝ bo wēščii
ašče komu xotjaše
pēsnē tworiti
to rastēkašetĭsja mysliju po drevu
sērymĭ wǝlkomĭ po zemli
šizymĭ orĭlomĭ podǝ oblaky

Pomĭnjašetĭ bo rēčĭ
pĭrwyxǝ wremenǝ usobitsē
togda puščašetĭ
desjatĭ sokolowǝ
na stado lebedēi
kotoryē dotečaše
ta predi pēsnĭ pojaše
staromu Jaroslawu
xrabromu Mĭstislawu
iže zarēza Rededju
predǝ pǝlky kasožĭskymi
krasĭnomu Romanowi swjatǝslawličju

Bojanǝ že bratie ne desjatĭ sokolowǝ
na stado lebedēi puščaše
nǝ swojē wēščiē pĭrsty
na žiwyjē struny wǝskladaše
oni že sami kǝnjazemǝ
slawu rokotaxu

Počĭnemǝ že bratie powēstĭ siju
otǝ starago Wolodimēra
do nynēšĭnjago Igorja
iže istjagnu umǝ krēpostiju swojeju
i poostri sĭrdĭtsa swojego mužestwomĭ
napǝlniwǝsja ratĭnago duxa
nawede swoē xrabryē pǝlky
na zemlju Polowētsĭkuju
za zemlju Rusĭkuju



Horace: Ode 1.4 Spring Sense (From Latin)

Spring Sense (Ode 1.4)
By Horace
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

Hard Winter's grip breaks up with the welcome spring and west wind coming, 
 the windlass drags to sea the parched dry keels. 
Cattle no longer care for stables nor ploughmen for the hearth.  
 The frostgrey cap is falling off the fields. 
Venus may well be leading Her dancers beneath a looming moon 
 somewhere. As Nymphs join hands with the svelte Graces 
tapping a lightfooted beat on the earth, hot Vulcan's men machine 
 bolts charged for summer storm in smolten places. 
Now it is time to garland your glossy hair with newgreen myrtle 
 or flowers the unfettered earth now bears,
and go to the shady grove of the woodland god to sacrifice  
 a lamb; or kid. Whichever He prefers.
Revenant ashfaced Death is walking not caring if His heel 
 hits peasant shacks or towers of kings. The fling
of life is short, dear well-heeled Sestius, and rules out betting on futures.   
 Night falls on you and ghosts are gathering
till the humbling walls of the Underhome close in. There you can't play   
 our party drinking games, and can't admire
sexy Lycidas who gets all the lads hotted up today 
 and who tomorrow will fill girls with fire.

The Original:

Solvitur ācris hiems grātā vice vēris et Favōnī
trahuntque siccās māchinae carīnās,
ac neque iam stabulīs gaudet pecus aut arātor ignī
nec prāta cānīs albicant pruīnīs.
Iam Cytherēa chorōs dūcit Venus imminente lūnā
iūnctaeque Nymphīs Grātiae decentēs
alternō terram quatiunt pede, dum gravīs Cyclōpum
Vulcānus ardēns vīsit officīnās.
Nunc decet aut viridī nitidum caput impedīre myrtō
aut flōre, terrae quem ferunt solūtae;
nunc et in umbrōsīs Faunō decet immolāre lūcīs,
seu poscat agnā sīve mālit haedō.
Pallida Mors aequō pulsat pede pauperum tabernās
rēgumque turrīs. Ō beāte Sēstī,
vītae summa brevis spem nōs vetat incohāre longam.
Iam tē premet nox fābulaeque Mānēs
et domus exīlis Plūtōnia; quō simul meāris,
nec rēgna vīnī sortiēre tālīs,
nec tenerum Lycidan mīrābere, quō calet iuventūs
nunc omnis et mox virginēs tepēbunt.

Anonymous: Tidings from the Underworld (From Greek)

Greek Anthology 348
By Anonymous
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

After not getting much to eat or do
But getting sick a lot, I lived on through 
My years until I died. And fuck you, too.

The Original: 

Βαιὰ φαγὼν καὶ βαιὰ πιὼν καὶ πολλὰ νοσήσας,
ὀψὲ μέν, ἀλλ᾿ ἔθανον. ἔρρετε πάντες ὁμοῦ.

Martial: Epigram 3.69 (From Latin)

Epigram 3.69: On Cosconius' G-Rating
By Martial
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

Such seemly words you write with, that in all
Your verse there is not one dick, and no balls.
None's holier. I praise what you have done. 
But all my pages are lubed-up for fun. 
Let slutty girls and pervy kids read me
And old men teased by girlfriends' coquetry,
And leave your venerable pious pages
To celibates and virgins of all ages.

The Original:

Omnia quod scrībis castīs epigrammata verbīs
inque tuīs nūlla est mentula carminibus,
admiror, laudō; nihil est tē sānctius ūnō:
at mea luxuriā pāgina nūlla vacat.
haec igitur nēquam iuvenēs facilēsque puellae,
haec senior, sed quem torquet amīca, legat.
at tua, Cōscōnī, venerandaque sānctaque verba
ā puerīs dēbent virginibusque legī.

Mazon Afer: Confessio Infidei (From Latin)

Confession of Unfaith
By Mazon Afer
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

If I worshipped stupidity
Then you would be a god to me,
But fuck if I am joining you.
Now, ὕπαγε ὀπίσω μου. 

The Original:

Confessio Infidei

Sī venerārer stultitiam tū mī deus essēs
Sed retrō mē sīs. Nōn tibi cultor erō. 

Anonymous: Gorgias' Head (From Greek)

Greek Anthology 134
Anonymous
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

Here I, the head of Cynic Gorgias, rot:
No longer hacking phlegm or blowing snot

The Original:

Ἐνθάδε Γοργίου ἡ κεφαλὴ κυνικοῦ κατάκειμαι,
οὐκέτι χρεμπτομένη, οὔτ᾿ ἀπομυσσομένη.

Pól Mac Cartáin: Yellow Submarine

At the turn of the 11th century, an Irish cleric by the name of Paulus Cartenius (Pól Mac Cartáin) who had taken up residence in Würtzburg, passed the time by composing idle verses which at the time seemed nonsensical.

Flava Submarina Navis
Paulus Cartenius

In vico olim quo sum natus
Vir qui enavit pelagus
Est nobis vitam suam fatus
In submarinis navibus

Ad solem ita navigantes
Viride mare vidimus
Sub undis inde iucundantes
In flava navi canimus:

In flava submarina navi

Vivamus in perpetuum, 
In flava submarina navi
Nunc et usque in saeculum.

Amici nostri aut hic manent
Aut in vicinis navibus
Musici dum gaudemus canent
Lyris benesonantibus

In flava submarina navi
Vivamus in perpetuum, 
In flava submarina navi
Nunc et usque in saeculum.

Vivamus in luxuria.
Singulis fas est copia,
Mari virente caelo suavi,
In flava submarina navi.

In flava submarina navi
Vivamus in perpetuum, 
In flava submarina navi
Nunc et usque in saeculum.

Long ago in the village where I was born / a man who sailed o'er the deep / spake unto us of his life
/ among the ships under the sea. / So sailing unto the sun / we saw a green sea, / and now delighting beneath the waves / in a yellow ship we sing: / In a yellow submarine / let us live forever, / in a yellow submarine / now and forever unto the ages. / Our friends either remain here / or in neighboring ships. / While we rejoice, the musicians will sing / to well-sounding lyres. / In a yellow submarine / let us live forever.... / Let us live in luxury. / Abundance is permitted to each of us, / with the sea greening to a sweet sky, / in a yellow submarine. / In a yellow submarine / let us live forever.

Reza Monaf: From the Priest's Son to the Imam's Daughter (From Tazwiri)

It is surprising that people so often attribute the ghazal form solely to Urdu and Persian, when there are so many literary traditions, from Turkish to Tazwiri, that also employ it. This poem being a case in point. 

Ghazal 4.1: From the Priest's son to the Imam's daughter
By Reza Monaf
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

In the beginning was the word and every word was you
As love turned flesh among us and reality came true.

Eternity burst open like a sinner's door to heaven
Our hands became the blasphemy of lovers, and reached through.

My hand became a crown above the promise of your head.
I love you and a night's enough to tell you that I do.

If you don't come tonight, may God forsake me like a father,
Sharpen the crescent moon into a blade, and run me through.

Come now. If not, a priest's son will find gear enough for travel.
Whatever road of rock I walk, my heart will be my shoe.



The Original:

رول ازل كيت كلمه فه تون كلمه وا سين
كه عشق هورا بلد فه حقيقه حقوا سين

ابد تورافلپ كه ذنبگار بار جنت
دستروپ زندقه بلند فه سريوا سين

دستك تاز بلند قولرو كپش وا
عشق وا ملكانت رين باشب پروا سين

الله پر يوك عوده بروام اتاگار شي برش
هلال سيف بربلك فه بن ارياوا سين

دوررد حال! پر يوك خوريده سفرچيز پكراد
چل چل دراه چلد پا قلب پانوا سين

Anonymous: Deor (From Old English)

This poem refers to stock characters — real and fictional — from Germanic lore. Some of the figures are now obscure, and most are not known directly from Old English versions of the story. I have modernized many of the names slightly, giving them forms that would be plausible as Modern English versions of the name.
Wayland (Old English Wēland, Old Norse Vǫlundr, Old High German Wiolant) was a smith renowned for his metal working ability. He was forced to work for Nithad (OE Niþhad, ON Níðuðr) who hamstrung him to stop his escape. Wayland avenged himself by killing the king's sons, raping his daughter Beadild (OE Beadohilde, ON Böðvildr).
Mathild and Geat are quite opaque. They appear to be famous lovers that met a tragic end, like Romeo and Juliet, or Layla and Majnun. The ablest guess is that they correspond to Magnhild and Gaute of a Scandinavian ballad tale recorded in the 19th century, but even if so the story as it was known to the poet's English audience may well have differed greatly from the version known from Scandinavia a thousand years later.
Thedrick is Theodoric, the Ostrogothic emperor who ruled in Italy from 493 to 526. The English knew him as a tyrant through Boethius and through Gregory's Dialogi. Ermenric is Eormanric the Goth, another famous tyrant, known to us from Beowulf and Widsith.

Fulk and Cain say in their History of Old English Literature
That the catalogue is an unfeeling construct is wholly a modern prejudice: Deor illustrates perhaps better than any specimen how the aggregation of seemingly random examples can be made to produce a lyrically effective work, expressing a profound sense of loss against a sweeping background of legendary history. The paratactic nature of the catalogue form in fact suits it admirably to the aesthetic of ironic juxtaposition. 
Deor
By Anonymnous
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

In Wormland, Wayland went through harrows,
The strongminded smith suffered in exile.
His soul-companions were sorrow and cold
In wintry exile. He ached for escape
When Nithad caught and crippled him,
And strung him down with severed sinews,
Binding a slave of the better man.

That passed in time. This can too. 

To Beadild's mind her brothers' deaths
Weren't as wounding as what she faced
Herself when she came to clearly see
That she was pregnant. That princess unmarried
Could not know what would come of her,
Tried not to recall the rape had happened.

That passed in time. This can too.

In a hundred songs we have heard the pang
Of Mathild and Geat who grew a bottomless
And baneful love   that banished sleep.

That passed in time. This can too.

We all know how Thedrick for thirty winters
Ruled the Merings and then no more.

That passed in time. This can too.

We all have heard of Ermenrick's
Wolfsick mind. He was one cruel king
Who ruled over the outland Goths.
His state was set in strung-up hearts 
As strongmen sat in sorrow-shackles
Awaiting the worst, wishing often
For a foe to liberate the land of their king.

That passed in time. This can too.

A man sits mournful, his mind ripped from joy,
His spirit in dark and deeming himself
Foredoomed to endure ordeals forever.
Then he may think how throughout the Midworld
The Wise God goes and works around:
Meting out grace, mercy and certain
Success to some, suffering to many.

Of myself I have this much to say:
I was songmaker for a time  to the tribe of Heden,
Dear to my master. "Deor" was my name.
For many seasons  I sang in that hall
To the heart of my king. But Heorrend now
Has reaped the riches and rights of land
That guardian of men  once granted me,
Stolen my place  with a poet's skill. 

That passed in time. This can too.

The Original:

Wēland him be wurman  wræces cunnade,
ānhȳdiġ eorl  earfoða drēag,
hæfde him tō ġesīþþe  sorge ond longaþ,
winterċealde wræce;  wēan oft onfond,
siþþan hine Nīþhād  on nēde leġde,
swoncre seonobende  on syllan monn.

Þæs oferēode,  þisses swā mæġ.

Beadohilde ne wæs  hyre brōðra dēaþ
on sefan swā sār  swā hyre sylfre þing,
þæt hēo ġearolīce  onġieten hæfde
þæt hēo ēacen wæs;  ǣfre ne meahte
þrīste ġeþencan,  hū ymb þæt sċeolde.

Þæs oferēode,  þisses swā mæġ.

Wē þæt Mæþhilde  monġe ġefrūnon
wurdon grundlēase  Ġēates frīge,
þæt him sēo sorglufu  slǣp ealle binom.

Þæs oferēode,  þisses swā mæġ.

Þēodrīċ āhte  þrītiġ wintra
Mǣringa burh;  þæt wæs monegum cūþ.

Þæs oferēode, þisses swā mæġ.

Wē ġeāscodan  Ēormanrīċes
wylfenne ġeþōht;  āhte wīde folc
Gotena rīċes.  Þæt wæs grim cyning.
Sæt seċġ moniġ  sorgum ġebunden,
wēan on wēnan,  wyscte ġeneahhe
þæt þæs cynerīċes  ofercumen wǣre.

Þæs oferēode,  þisses swā mæġ.

Siteþ sorgċeariġ,  sǣlum bidǣled,
on sefan sweorceþ,  sylfum þinceþ
þæt sȳ endelēas  earfoða dæl.
Mæġ þonne ġeþencan,  þæt ġeond þās woruld
wītiġ dryhten  wendeþ geneahhe,
eorle monegum  āre geṡċeawaþ,
wīslīcne blǣd,  sumum wēana dǣl.

Þæt iċ bi mē sylfum  secgan wille,
þæt iċ hwīle  wæs Heodeninga scop,
dryhtne dȳre.  Mē wæs Dēor nama.
Āhte iċ fela wintra  folgaþ tilne,
holdne hlāford,  oþþæt Heorrenda nū,
lēoþcræftiġ monn  londryht ġeþāh,
þæt mē eorla hlēo  ǣr ġesealde.

Þæs oferēode,  þisses swā mæġ.

Manuscript of Dēor in the Exeter Book:

Mōdor Gōs: Bæ Bæ Sweart Scēap (Ænglisc)

Bæ Bæ Sweart Sceap
Mōdor Gōs
Ġeþēodde A.Z. Formann

Bæ bæ sweart sċēap
Hæfst þū ǣnġe wulle?
Gēa lēof, gēa lēof,
þrī saccas fulle.

Twā mīnum hlaforde
Ond āne his wīfe
Ac nāne þam earman ċilde
Būtan cotlīfe.

Frumlēoþ:

Baa, baa, black sheep,
Have you any wool?
Yes, marry, have I,
Three bags full;

One for my master,
One for my dame,
But none for the little boy
Who cries in the lane.

Mōdor Gōs: Jack ond Jill (Ænglisc)

Æþel ond Æþelrēd 
Mōdor Gōs
Geþēodde A.Z. Formann

Tō hylles toppe
For wæterstoppan
Clamb Æþel mid Æþelrēde
Æþelrēd ofhrēas
his hrycg adrēas
and Æþel fēoll æfter and blēdde.

Frumlēoþ:

Jack and Jill
Went up the hill
To fetch a pale of water
Jack fell down
And broke his crown
And jill came tumbling after

Mōdor Gōs: Ēa diðel-diðele (Ænglisc)

Ēa diðel-diðele
Mōdor Gōs
Ġeþēodde A.Z. Formann

Ēa diðel-diðele
catte ond fiðele. 
Ofer mōnan hlēop cū mid fisċe
ond se hundel lōh 
hira plegan þe drōh
þenden hlædel oþarn mid disċe


Frumlēoþ:

Hey diddle diddle
The cat and the fiddle
The cow jumped over the moon
The little dog laughed
To see such a craft
And the dish ran away with a spoon.

Kalman Kalocsay: Cassandra (From Esperanto)

Cassandra
By Kálmán Kalocsay
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

With a cool head and an unfevered brow, 
I cannot be diseased by the miasms
Of this time's fashionable enthusiasms. 
My mournful sight is far too lucid now.

There is no saving this grim human race.
Heroic courage and pious cataplasms
Will never cure it of the nasty spasms
That take it deathward at a soldier's pace.

We'll die hunting each other to the last
With bullets, rockets, bombs, and poison gas,
Damned undeserving of life's joy or love.

And after the hard sweepthrough of Destruction
Out of the wreckage a fresh race will move
The bricks of a new, different world's construction.

The Original:

Kassandra

Fridkapa mi jam estas kaj senfebra.
Ne povas min infekti la miasmoj
De la nuntempaj modaj entuziasmoj:
Tro klara estas mia vid' funebra.

Ne estas sav' por ĉi homar' tenebra.
Kurac' heroa, piaj kataplasmoj
Ĝin same ne sanigos el la spasmoj,
Kiuj ĝin portos al pereo nepra.

Forfalos ni en reciproka ĉaso
Per kuglo kaj per bombo kaj per gaso,
Damnitaj kaj ne indaj por vivĝuo.

Kaj post la trabalao de l' Detruo
El la ruinoj prenos freŝa raso
La brikojn por la nova mondkonstruo.

Avrom Suckever: Resto (Eljidigita)

Jen plia esperantlingva traduko, ĉi-foje el la jida. 

One more translation into Esperanto, this time from Yiddish.  

Resto
Avrom Suckever
Eljidigis A.Z. Foreman

Kiu restos? Kio restos? Restos pura vento,
Restos de blindulo foriranta la blindeco.
Restos ŝnureret' de ŝaumo, signo de la maro, 
Restos nubo fiksiĝita sur branĉet' de arbo.

Kiu restos? Kio restos? Restos parolero
Por reherbi sian kreon kun geneza vero. 
Restos vjola roz' en sia propra honor' nure. 
Sep herberoj el la herbo ĝin komprenos pure.

Pli ol ĉiuj steloj de ĉi tie ĝis la nord'
Restos tiu stelo, kiu falas en larm' for. 
Ĉiam gut' de vin' en sia kruĉo ankaŭ restos. 
Kiu restos? Restos Di'. Ĉu ne sufiĉa estos?

La Originalo:

װער װעט בלײַבן? װאָס װעט בלײַבן? בלײַבן װעט אַ װינט,
בלײַבן װעט די בלינדקײט פֿונעם בלינדן, װאָס פֿאַרשװינדט.
בלײַבן װעט אַ סימן פֿונעם ים: אַ שנירל שוים,
בלײַבן װעט אַ װאָלקנדל פֿאַרטשעפּעט אויף אַ בוים.

װער װעט בלײַבן? װאָס װעט בלײַבן? בלײַבן װעט אַ טראַף,
בראשיתֿדיק אַרויסצוגראָזן װידער זײַן באַשאַף.
בלײַבן װעט אַ פֿידלרויז לכּבֿוד זיך אַלײן,
זיבן גראָזן פֿון די גראָזן װעלן זיך פֿאַרשטײן.

מער פֿון אַלע שטערן אַזש פֿון צפֿון ביז אַהער,
בלײַבן װעט דער שטערן, װאָס ער פֿאַלט אין סאַמע טרער.
שטענדיק װעט אַ טראָפּן װײַן בלײַבן אין זײַן קרוג.
װער װעט בלײַבן? גאָט װעט בלײַבן, איז דיר ניט גענוג?

Emily Dickenson: "Ne tiu mondo ĉi finfinas" (Elangligita)

Ĉar mi emis ŝangeton de paŝo, pensis mi, ke estus amuza ion elangligi. 

Since I felt like a change of pace, I thought it would be fun to translate something from English into Esperanto. 

"Ne tiu mondo ĉi finfinas"
Emily Dickenson
Elangligis A.Z. Foreman

Ne tiu mondo ĉi finfinas.
Speco postestaras.
Kiel muziko nevideblas. 
Sed, kiel son', realas. 
Embarasas, signodonas —
La filozof' — nescias —
Kaj tra enigm' kribrila — fine
La sagacec' trairas.
Ne ĝin divenas la kleruloj.
Por ĝin atingi — l' homoj frontis
La mokon de generacioj
Kaj la krucumon, montris
Ke 'l fid' ekglidas, ridas, resaltas
Ruĝiĝas se vidatas
Plukas branĉeton de pruvpeco,
De ventflag' vojon petas.
Ho, gestoj ŝvelas elkatedre —
Kaj halelujoj grandas.
Ne trankviligas drog' la denton
anime mordetantan.

La Originalo:

This World is not Conclusion.
A Species stands beyond --
Invisible, as Music --
But positive, as Sound --
It beckons, and it baffles --
Philosophy -- don't know --
And through a Riddle, at the last --
Sagacity, must go --
To guess it, puzzles scholars --
To gain it, Men have borne
Contempt of Generations
And Crucifixion, shown --
Faith slips -- and laughs, and rallies --
Blushes, if any see --
Plucks at a twig of Evidence --
And asks a Vane, the way --
Much Gesture, from the Pulpit --
Strong Hallelujahs roll --
Narcotics cannot still the Tooth
That nibbles at the soul --

Kálmán Kalocsay: Autumnal Park (From Esperanto)

Written sometime between 1939 and 1945

Autumnal Park
By Kálmán Kalocsay
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

The fall has never been this beautiful.
The trees parade the park in lavish gowns
Decked with a thousand shades of colorful. 
All the reds, yellows, oranges and browns
Sparkle up in a gentle sheen of sun.
With sheaves of light stroked to a blarney croon, 
Like airy harps the leaving branches thrum
The melody of a mysterious rune. 

I drown amid the great idyll. On me
The leaves come falling from the linden tree.
Peopleless nature has me lullabied
Until the big dumb blatant rumbles fall
On my head from a world in flames outside. 
History marches hard upon us all. 


Audio of me reciting this translation in English

Audio of me reciting this poem in Esperanto


The Original:

Aŭtuna parko

Neniam tiel belis la aŭtuno.
Paradas pompe en la park' la arboj
per milnuanca bunto de la farboj,
oranĝkoloro, flavo, ruĝo, bruno
fajreras en la milda bril' de l' suno,
kaj sub karesa flato de lumgarboj
la branĉoj zumas kiel aerharpoj
la melodion de mistera runo.

Mi dronas en ĉi granda idilio,
surfalas min folioj de tilio,
kaj la natur' senhoma min enlulas.
Sed min defore trafas nun murmure
obtuza bru'. La mondo tie brulas,
la historio marŝas al ni dure.

Tadeusz Borowski: Farewell to Maria (From Polish)

Farewell to Maria
By Tadeusz Borowski
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

Tadeusz Borowski was imprisoned at Auschwitz. His fiancée Maria, in Birkenau. Tadeusz worked as a roofer and managed to see her on occasion. As the war wore on, he was moved to Duatmergen, and then to Dachau where he was liberated by the allied advance.

If you are living, then remember
that I still am. But do not come
to me. In this black swollen night 
snowflakes stick to the panes like gum.

Wind wheezes. Naked tree-shapes smack
the windows. Over me like smoke
from blown-out towns and battle fronts
the boundless deaf blunt darkness floats.

Horridly quiet. Why've I lived
so long? Now, only bitter pain. 
Do not come back. My love all went 
up in the crematorium flame. 

There you were mine. Your body, covered
in abscesses and scabies, rose 
up like a cloud. There you were mine,
from heaven, from fire. Burned out. Case closed.  

You will not come back to me. Neither
will the fog-drunken wind return.
The dead won't rise from common graves, 
the brittle ash cannot unburn.  

Don't. Don't come back. It was all play,
theatrics, figments of the mind!
Your love is circling over me
like human smoke above the wind.  

Tadeusz eventually learned that Maria had made her way to Sweden. The two finally married in 1946. Five years later, he became involved with another woman. Three days after the birth of their daughter, Tadeusz stuck his head into an oven and gassed himself to death. 

The Original:

Pożegnanie z Marią

Jeżeli żyjesz -- to pamiętaj,
że jestem. Ale do mnie nie idź.
W tej nocy czarnej, opuchniętej
śnieg się do szyb płatami klei.

I gwiżdże wiatr. I nagi kontur
drzew bije w okno. I nade mną
jak dym zagasłych miast i frontów
płynie niezmierna, głucha ciemność.

Jak strasznie cicho! Po cóż było
aż dotąd żyć? Już tylko gorycz.
Nie wracaj do mnie. Moja miłość
jest zżarta ogniem krematorium.

Stamtąd cię miałem. Twoje ciało
w świerzbie, w flegmonie tak się pięło
jak obłok wzwyż. Stamtąd cię miałem,
z niebiosów, z ognia. Przeminęło.

Nie wrócisz do mnie. Razem z tobą
nie wróci wiatr, co mgłą się opił.
Nie wstaną ludzie z wspólnych grobów
i nie ożyje kruchy popiół.

Nie chcę, nie wracaj. Wszystko było
grą naszą, złudą, czczym teatrem.
Krąży nade mną twoja miłość
jak dym człowieka ponad wiatrem