Friday, January 15, 2010

GOING TO THE DOGS (a study in translation of poetry)

From time to time I suddenly remember that I love poetry. 

I was inspired to translate this little poem by the parallel discussion of free verse on Languagehat and AVVA. Blog authors were asking, in a puzzled way, why is it that while most of the West writes poetry largely in free verse Russia continues (mostly) to rhyme her poems.

This poem is from 'The Funny Side. 101 Humorous Poems', compiled and with contributions by Wendy Cope. It is very obviously with rhymes. To read my translation please go to Tetradki in Russian. I've substituted the granddads in the original with my own granddads in the translation.



GOING TO THE DOGS

My granddad, viewing earth's worn cogs,
Said things were going to the dogs;
His granddad in his house of logs,
Said things were going to the dogs;
His granddad in the Flemish bogs.
Said things were going to the dogs;
His granddad in his old skin togs,
Said things were going to the dogs;
There's one thing that I have to state –
The dogs have had a good long wait.

(Anon.)



By the way, in case you think that all verse without rhyme is free verse (vers libre), it is not so, there is also blank verse, beloved of Shakespeare and Pushkin.

And an impressive list of modern Russian poets writing in vers libre is here.

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