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The Willow Akhmatova-revised

PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2017 1:42 pm
by cynwulf
Ива
И дряхлый пук дерев.
Пушкин

А я росла в урожной тишине
В прохладной децкой молодного века.
И не был мил мне голос человека,
А голос ветра был понятен мне.
Я лопухи любила и крапиву,
Но больше всех серебряную иву.
И благодарная, она жила
Со мной всю жизнь, плакучими ветрями
Бессонницу овейвала снами.
И-- странно-- я её пережила.
Там пень торчит, чужими голосами.
Другие ивы что-то говорят
Под нашими, под теми небесами.
И я молчу...как будто умер брат.

Ленинград
18 Янвая 1940

Literally

Willow
And a decrepit clump of trees.
Pushkin


But I grew up in patterned silence
in cool nursery of young century.
And not was dear to me voice of person,
but voice of wind was clear to me.
I burdocks loved and nettles,
but greatest of all silver willow.
And obligingly, she lived
with me all her life, with weeping branches
sleeplessness she fanned with dreams.
And-- strangely-- I her outlived.
There stump sticks up, with alien voices
other willows speak
under our, under dark skies.
And I am silent...as if had died brother.
Leningrad
18 January 1940


Freely

The Willow
And a decrepit clump of trees.
Pushkin


I grew up in patterned silence
in the young century's cool nursery.
The human voice meant nothing to me,
but the wind's clear voice was full of sense.
I loved the burdocks and the nettles,
but I loved a silver willow best of all.
All his life my kind companion
obliged me, as his weeping limbs
fanned my sleeplessness with dreams.
Curiously, he died while I live on.
A stump still stands, there other willows
with strange voices now confide
under our skies, our dark skies,
and I am silent...as if a brother had died.
Leningrad
18 January 1940


Revision
The Willow
And a decrepit clump of trees
Pushkin


I grew up in patterned silence
in the young century's cool nursery.
The human voice meant nothing to me,
but the wind's clear voice was full of sense.
I loved the burdocks and nettles,
but I loved a siver willow best of all.
Kindly, he lived with me all his life. In the wind
obligingly, his weeping limbs
fanned my sleeplessness with dreams.
Oddly, I outlived my friend.
A stump still stands. There other willows
with alien voices now confide
under our skies, our dark skies,
and I am silent...as if a brother had died.
Leningrad
18 January 1940

Re: The Willow Akhmatova

PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2017 6:53 pm
by Antcliff
Liked the free, C

Wondered if there should be some stronger/emphatic punctuation before the "there" after "still stands"?...that bit seems to read slightly awkwardly.

I am slightly puzzled at one point...though that may just be the poem. On the one hand, N is standing silent as if a brother has died, but then the prior death is described as something that happened "curiously". That seems an odd word to select to describe the death if it generates such strong feelings. (O, how curious). Are you sure that "curiously" quite conveys the meaning of the Russian ? It may well...just wondering.

Seth

Re: The Willow Akhmatova-revised

PostPosted: Mon Jan 09, 2017 11:37 am
by cynwulf
Thank you, Seth, for your comments. Yes-very careless punctuation. I've written a revised version which includes the required full stop.

I've also puzzled a long time over this section of the poem, and am still not happy - the core meaning of 'stranno' is 'strange', 'odd'- French translations have 'c'est étrange..' , German 'seltsam'. Kunitz, reckoned by many to produce the best English translations of Russian poetry gives the line as- 'oddly, I survived it, '

with best regards, c.

Re: The Willow Akhmatova-revised

PostPosted: Sat Jan 14, 2017 11:39 pm
by oggiesnr
I like this but need to think a ot more on it.

My first thoughts were maybe "a patterned silence" hinting at one silence amongst many possible. The other was l6 "yet" instead of "but".

More thoughts may follow.

Steve

Re: The Willow Akhmatova-revised

PostPosted: Mon Jan 16, 2017 7:35 pm
by cynwulf
Thanks Steve. Your 1st thoughts are to the point... 'a patterned silence' extends the idea of the silence, I need to think about that a little more; 'the patterned
silence' has other connotations -could then refer more obviously to the calmer years preceding WW1 and the events following October 1917. Akhmatova's meaning is obscured by the ambiguities of her language not possessing definite and indefinite articles. You're right to pull me up on the l6 'but', a very weak and lazy translation as 'no' expresses a stronger antithesis than the conjunction 'a', it's nearer to 'however' or 'despite', your suggestion of 'yet' fits well, and will be used in any 'final' version .

Best wishes, c.

Re: The Willow Akhmatova-revised

PostPosted: Sun Jan 22, 2017 7:55 pm
by David
I almost missed this, c. I like it.

I agree that "Curiously" hardly seems to fit the bill for the emotion expressed.

And you've changed the gender of the willow? That is curious. (Speaking of curiosity, how many genders are there in Russian?)

Cheers

David

Re: The Willow Akhmatova-revised

PostPosted: Tue Jan 24, 2017 2:42 pm
by cynwulf
Thank you, David. Changing the gender-I'm so old that gender to me is only a grammatical term, though now it seems to have come to mean, additionally, what I as a one-time zoologist still refer to as sex. I find it curious to be asked my gender rather than my sex when filling in forms.

Russian has grammatical gender, English has lost this for natural gender, and uses gendered terms only for animate beings based on their sex ( apart from odd personifications of ships, cars etc). I wonder if languages retaining grammatical gender confuse these categories as English now does.' Iva' is a feminine noun and so has feminine pronouns, but the last line makes it clear that this wilow is sexually male, hence the change of "gender" in the translation.

Apologies for all the pomposity.

Russian has 4 genders- Feminine, masculine, neuter and common.

as ever yours, c.

Re: The Willow Akhmatova-revised

PostPosted: Thu Jan 26, 2017 8:43 pm
by David
cynwulf wrote: Russian has grammatical gender, English has lost this for natural gender, and uses gendered terms only for animate beings based on their sex ( apart from odd personifications of ships, cars etc). I wonder if languages retaining grammatical gender confuse these categories as English now does.' Iva' is a feminine noun and so has feminine pronouns, but the last line makes it clear that this wilow is sexually male, hence the change of "gender" in the translation.

Apologies for all the pomposity.

Russian has 4 genders- Feminine, masculine, neuter and common.

as ever yours, c.

No, that's all good interesting stuff. Four genders! I've never come across that before.

Cheers

David