Day 21 #NaPoWriMo



Today’s optional prompt asks you to make use of today’s resource. Find a poem in a language that you don’t know, and perform a “homophonic translation” on it. What does that mean? Well, it means to try to translate the poem simply based on how it sounds. You may not wind up with a credible poem at the end, but this can be a fun way to step outside of your own mind for a bit, and develop a poem that speaks in a distinctive voice.

My example

TOURISTES

De Bergen ils écrivent : nous reviendrons avant les fêtes,
vous nous manquez,
de la Côte : il est difficile d’aimer par procuration
et encore
pourquoi ce silence ?
Nous nous levons à l’aube
comme nos pères
le café et les conversations incompréhensibles
ont leur vertu.
En pensant à vous,
nous contemplons la mosaïque du soleil et de la mer
jusqu’au soir où la lune trace des chemins
pour les derniers pêcheurs
l’histoire nous parle autant que la nature
à Rome, il fait plus chaud qu’à la maison.
La distance joue inlassablement
son menuet mélancolique.

© 2006, Emmanuel Moses
From: Figure rose
Publisher: Flammarion, Paris, 2006

My response, I did not read the translation.

Tourists

22 April 20

0600

Let’s rendezvous in Paris

We can be secret lovers again

Walking the streets, looking at the mannequins in the shops

Not totally understanding what we see or read because our high school French teachers would be considered illiterate

It’s difficult to comprehend

The reactions of the locals

As we tumble into their stores

We are tolerated, but we seek

To understand a thousand years of history in a week

An impossible task, yet in my bones I feel like I made it home

After generations of travel

I’ve made it home

I don’t comprehend the conversations in cafes

But I still play the game of making up stories about the patrons

I can’t read the paper and feel embarrassed to ask simple questions

Where is the toilet, what is the special, how is your family

I can’t even express to the citizenry that I feel home here

I can barely thank them for their hospitality

I am not even a peasant in their eyes, but that could just be my paranoia, my secret lover reminds me that we are invisible to their daily lives

We visit the places where history was made

We walk over stones and parks where historic speeches were made, yet we are unaware of the subtleties of this City

If Rome was a mansion then Paris is a castle

Our travels will lead us to that city shortly

But for now we stay in Paris

The distance back to “home” seems to great a journey even with our technological advances

It has taken my blood over a hundred years to get here

Possibly more because I haven’t traced my line farther than my father’s father.

No, we will stay here and embrace the melancholy of misunderstanding

We will stay and become children again.

And the English translation


TOURISTES
De Bergen ils écrivent : nous reviendrons avant les fêtes,
vous nous manquez,
de la Côte : il est difficile d’aimer par procuration
et encore
pourquoi ce silence ?
Nous nous levons à l’aube
comme nos pères
le café et les conversations incompréhensibles
ont leur vertu.
En pensant à vous,
nous contemplons la mosaïque du soleil et de la mer
jusqu’au soir où la lune trace des chemins
pour les derniers pêcheurs
l’histoire nous parle autant que la nature
à Rome, il fait plus chaud qu’à la maison.
La distance joue inlassablement
son menuet mélancolique.
TOURISTS
From Bergen they write: we’ll be back before the holidays,
we miss you,
from the Côte d’Azur: it’s hard to love by proxy
but still
why this silence?
We get up at dawn
as our parents did
coffee and unintelligible conversations
have their advantages.
Thinking of you
we contemplate the mosaic of sun and sea
till dusk when the moon traces a road
for the last fishermen
history speaks to us as much as nature does
in Rome it’s hotter than at home.
Tirelessly, distance plays
its melancholy minuet.

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