1 abr. 2005

Of course, if Brodksy is a great poet in Russian, the bad translation is all the more tragic. If it's mediocre in the original there would be no reason to protest the doggerel version. By the way, I am using the word doggerel in its precise technical sense, not as a synonym for bad poetry.

***

WAITING FOR AUDIENCE ON A SPRING NIGHT

The flowers along the palace
Walls grow dim in the twilight.
Twittering brids fly past to roost.
Twinkling stars move over ten
Thousand households. The full moon
Enters the Ninth Constellation.
Wakeful, I hear the rattle
Of gold keys in locks. I hear jade
Bridle pendants tinkling in
The wind. At the dawn audience
I must present a special
Memorial. Time and again
I wonder how long the night will last.

(Rexroth)

A NIGHT-VIGIL IN THE LEFT COURT OF THE PALACE

Flowers are shadowed, the palace darkens,
Birds twitter by for a place to perch;
Heaven's ten thousand windows are twinkling,
And nine cloud-terraces are gleaming in the moonlight.
. . . While I wait for the golden lock to turn,
I hear jade pendants tinkling in the wind. . .
I have a petition to present in the morning,
All night I ask what time it is.

(Bynner)

Two versions of a Tu Fu poem. I'm thinking Rexroth has done more work to interpret the poem. He has a more definite idea of what it's about, and presents details in accordance with his interpretation of the poem: the jade pendants are around the necks of horses coming and going in the night. Bynner is more "passive" in this respect. Bynner is rhythmically superior and simpler. Neither version feels definitive to me. Very few translations seem unimproveable.