Wind by Boris Pasternak fm Dr Zhivago

Translated any poems lately? If so, then why not post them here?
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Wind by Boris Pasternak fm Dr Zhivago

Post by cynwulf » Sat May 14, 2016 2:41 pm

Я кончился, а ты жива.
И ветер, жалуясь и плача,
Раскачивает лес и дачу.
Не каждую сосну отдельно,
А полностью все дерева
Со всею далью беспредельной,
Как парусников кузова
На глади бухты корабельной.
И это не из удальства
Или из ярости бесцельной,
А чтоб в тоске найти слова
Тебе для песни колыбельной.

I have ended, but you live.
And wind complaining and crying
rocks forest and dacha.
Not each pine separately,
But utterly all trees
with all distance infinite,
as yachts' hulls
on smooth surface of bay ship.
And this not out of daring
or out of frenzy aimless,
but in order to in anguish find words
for you for a song cradle.

I have died, but you're alive.
And the wind, complaining, keening
sends the lodge and forest reeling.
Not first one pine tree then another,
but every tree as far as sight
to the endless distance all together,
like hulls of unrigged yachts that ride
in a harbour in slack water.
And this not out of reckless pride
or any aimless angry fervour,
but so that heartache might provide
words for a cradle song for you.

The website has a detailed analysis of this poem and critiques of 7 English translations.

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Re: Wind by Boris Pasternak fm Dr Zhivago

Post by David » Sat May 14, 2016 5:45 pm

Fascinating link, that, C. Is it just me, or has a crucial word been omitted from "la meilleure" version of M. Jourdain's letter? Or is that the point? (Surely not?)

I think I know that Heine classic, but I don't understand the Lermontov reference - presumably a translation of it?

On the figurative plane, the bereaved heroine is unobtrusively compared to the lonely intertextual pine tree (...) while the hero is identified with the wind, through which he speaks from beyond the grave.

I didn't get that pine tree personification from your version. But then I don't get it from any of the translations. Or, indeed, the literal translation.

As so often, I find the bare literal translation - in this case - the Zholkovsky - the most attractive. It's not a virtuosos performance, as some of the translations aspire to be, but I like it because of its noble austerity and because (I assume) it gives the clearest view of the original.

Oh what the heck, maybe I'll just have to Teach Myself Russian after all.



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Re: Wind by Boris Pasternak fm Dr Zhivago

Post by cynwulf » Sun May 15, 2016 6:29 pm

Thanks for your response, David.
I don't think there's anything deep in the last bit of the quote, the text seems corrupted (Russian lettters appearing in the French eg,) 'yeux' seems to have become lost.

Z is making a point of loss in translation I think- in Heine the Spruce Tree is masculine (ein Fichtenbaum) and the Palm feminine (die Palme) so there is a tension in the original that L's translation loses as 'sosna' (pine) and palm are both feminine in Russian, it wdn't have helped had L translated Fichtenbaum correctly as the Russian for spruce (el') is also feminine.

I didn't follow Z's idea of the lonely pine (can't help thinking of Larel and Hardy... In the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia....) I can't see it in the text at all or its relation to Heine's poem, the Wind, yes, that's fine with its connotations of soul, spirit, breath

Even a bare literal translation loses something- in the first line translated into modern English there is a loss of the intimacy found in the Russian, grammatically-- ' I ended but thou livest' . Something as simple as Caesar's Veni, vidi, vici loses all its poetry in translation. That is what literal translations can only hint at-eg the rocking Z mentions, felt in the rhyme scheme, the tetrametric rhythm, all the things that make the poem a poem. How untranslatable even prose can be, how would Voltaire's comment on Holland fare in English: canards, canaux, canaille? I may have got the order wong there as I quote from a rapidly failing memory.

Best wishes, c.

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