At my writing group meeting last Friday, we had a pretty cool poetry exercise: using literal English translations of poetry originally written in other languages, we had to transform the translations into our own poetry, or make the literal translation more “poetic”. Since I’m rather pleased with what I came up with, I thought I’d share my efforts here.
The literal translation I worked with is based on the Romanian poet Nichita Stănescu’s poem “Emoţie de toamnă”, translated by our Romanian group member as “Emotion in autumn”. (ETA: the group member in question is Marlena Bontas, who, among other things, writes awesome poetry.) Here is the original poem in Romanian. Even though I know French, Spanish and a bit of Latin, it’s not enough to open up the Romanian for me – so the poem below is based entirely on the literal English translation we had at our meeting. It’s pretty close to the translation, but I’ve put my own spin on it. It turned out quite a “me” poem in the end, methinks.
Autumn’s arrived –
draw a veil over my heart,
send a tree’s shadow to cover me,
or send your shadow.
Sometimes I’m afraid I won’t recognise you,
that I’ll grow bat’s wings and take to the sky,
that you will hide in a stranger’s eye
which will close, lidded by a wormwood leaf.
But then I reach the standing stones
and fear leaves me, speech leaves me.
I take these words and drown them in the sea.
Newborn, wordless, I whistle to the moon,
transform it into a crescent of love.