31 may. 2003

Here's another attempt at re-translation, from Jen Hofer's anthology. The original poem is by Ana Belén López

Dibuja una letra
la borra el mar
dibuja otra letra
la vuelve a borrar el mar
borra el mar
aparecen las letras
sólo queda solo el mar

Here's the translation in the book:

Traces a letter
the sea erases it
traces another letter
the sea erases it again
the sea erases
the letters appear
erases the letters
alone remains the sea alone

Here is my first try, based on two or three main divergences from Hofer: I interpret the verb forms as imperatives; I think the subject and object are reversed in one of the lines; I think it is noteworthy that every line of the original ends with either "mar" or "letra[s]".

Draw a letter
erased by the sea
draw another letter
erased again by the sea
erase the sea
to reveal the letters
erase the letters
leaving alone only the sea

A third try: I retain the third person interpretation of the verbs, and try to write a version in which the translation "explains" the poem. I invent a nonce subject "she" for the third person verbs, which the original (wisely) leaves out:

She traces a letter
the sea blots it out
she traces another letter
the sea returns to blot it out
she blots out the sea
the letters appear
only the sea is left alone

There could be other versions combining features of these three. Reading a translation like this involves for me a constant process of re-translation. I want to explore possibilities that the translator has not.