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Sound and Silence

Many times I harken back
From the peaks and valleys
The realm where eagle flies
Many times I thought you said something
But i find nothing but silence.
Many times I call you,
My voice rings, but I hear no echo
Yet I must cruise skywards like the eagle
Listening, speaking, hoping.

What does the eagle see from the peak,
As it swoops down to the valley?
How does my voice sound from every other peak and valley?
Does it sound foreboding,
is it muffled, does it vanish
and is soon forgotten?
I listen to the silence.
I speak till I go hoarse and then
I fall silent.

Notes: NaPoWriMo 2013 Day 16.  Today’s prompt was to take a poem from a foreign language and translate it based on just the sounds.  I took Gro Dahle’s Norwegian poem.  The first translation came out incoherent.  Above was my rework.  I didn’t like this exercise too much, I think I butchered Gro’s simple yet beautiful poem.

Here is Gro Dahle’s original in Norwegian

The river has no comfort to offer

Elven har ingen trøst å gi
en pike som gråter
Elven speiler bare regnet
i ringer på flaten
kruser seg stille
og skynder seg videre

Hva er vel en pike som gråter
Bak hver sving
har elven en pike som gråter
fører vannet forbi
forbi og forbi
til havets salte salte tunge

© 1992, Gro Dahle
From: Linneapasjonen
Publisher: J.W. Cappelens Forlag, Oslo, 1992

Here’s my first cut:

Eleven harks engine trust ago
In pike and some crater
Eleven spellers bare regal
I am ringer and flatter
Cruising but still Over skywards with seeing

Have it well with pike and some crater
Back half swings
Every eleven in pike and some crater
Forever vanishing and forbidden
Forbidden and forbidden
Till you have salty, salty tongue

Here’s actual transalation:

The river has no comfort to offer
a weeping girl
The river only reflects the rain
in surface rings
ripples quietly
and hurries along

So what is a girl who weeps
Behind every bend
the river has a girl who weeps
guides the water past
past and past
to the salt salt tongue of the ocean

© Translation: 2012, May-Brit Akerholt
First published on Poetry International, 2012


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