Old 01-13-2015, 03:19 AM   #1
Senna Jawa
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Du Fu and Bolesław Leśmian

Trixareforkids (Tx--for short) got interested in Bolesław Leśmian (how nice! ) in her thread Tripe,.... I don't want to delude her series of poems there by other things hence a new thread. Tx wrote:
I...read...how difficult he [Leśmian] is to translate because of the idiosyncrasies within the Polish language that he used. If you have a translation [of poem "Odjazd"], I'd be delighted if you would share it.
Tx, I have a translation. I can post it in your thread or here, let me know. That translation is poor though. But at least here and there I can write about the artistic differences between the translation and the original. I will not write too much about it because it makes me nervous.

Among the many-many great poets, I have no doubts that the two greatest poets so far by far ever were Du Fu (712-770) and Bolesław Leśmian (1877-1937). The later appeared more than a thousand years after the former. Do we need another thousand year or more for another poet like them? Will there be any poetry to tlk about in 200 years from now? BTW, the Leśmian's date of birth is known only within three years. There are (at least) three competing guesses.

In this post I'll write a bit about the imagry in Du Fu's and Bolesław Lesmian's poetry. All great poets have wonderful images. They can be everydayish or exotic but great! After all, many people said that poetry is painting with words, and this saying is not original but common. It's still true.

There are however certain differences between our two poets. As long as I know, Du Fu always presents realistic images. They can be surprising in the way he looks at the image, due to the associations, but they are always based on real images. I am sure that he often imagined those realistic-like images, but nevertheless they still belong to the real world. Leśmian certainly had his share of realistic images, but also of fantastic images. They still felt as sensual as possible, and even more so, but they belonged to a fantastic world. One can feel intuitively the difference between real-like images and fantastic images.

From the view of poetry the above difference was in a way formal. But there are also more material differences. There is a difference in the proportion of the number of scenes of different scale. Both were found of every scale of realistic images. However, Du Fu went beyond this. He had even in the same poem (or even mainly in the same poem), in the same scene: zoom, regular scale, distant perspective--e.g. the top of a far away tall mountain; and on the top of it Du Fu would introduce a view of entire country! You can say that this is not realistic--Du Fu was never flying any plane (he would have to wait for this more than a millennium), but it was. Indeed, his images were from this world, not from any other. He had such imagination that I feel like I saw his scenes from a passenger jet plane window. Why, I had this kind of impressions also when I was flying in small planes (I wish I would pilot them ).

On the other hand, when it comes to extremal zoom, the Leśmian was an absolute champion. He would let you see an abundance of the Nature's tiny details and small things, and you can see them in action, not just passively noting them.

Thus in some poems Leśmian will give space so that you can breath easy. But Du Fu would do it more. These three or four scales in one scene is incredible. The Du Fu's views are somewhat distant, detached. In the case of Leśmian you are in the middle of Nature, you are surrounded by it.

Other differences between Du Fu and Bolesław Leśmian are equally or rather even more profound. Oh, sure, there are also similarities--the basic poetic virtues.

Last edited by Senna Jawa : 02-22-2015 at 08:38 PM. Reason: typo
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Old 01-13-2015, 11:55 PM   #2
Trixareforkids
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I missed this earlier. I'm interested in the translation, even if it's not optimal. Here seems like a good place for it. It will make it easier to find should someone choose to go looking for it at a later date. And thank you for taking the time Senna Jawa, it is much appreciated.
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Old 01-14-2015, 01:54 AM   #3
Senna Jawa
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trixareforkids View Post
[...] seems like a good place for it. [...] much appreciated.
I'll copy Sandra Celt's translation. Her real name, as given on the back cover of her volume of translation, is Alexandra Chciuk-Celt. She's written her Ph.D. thesis about Leśmian, in addition to providing several translations. I am grateful to her, and others should be too. On the other hand, with all her knowledge, I am sorry how little she understood Leśmian as a poet and as a man. She was proud of her work, while at the same time it is painful to me to see her shortcomings. For instance, I've wrote about it on PF&D and elsewhere several times, about the title of her volume: [i]Mythematics and Extropy[i], of which she was proud. The title includes neologisms, Leśmian was fond of neologisms, but her neologisms were an artistic (literary, poetic) contradiction of Leśmian's neologisms. You can see the difference between knowing something and knowing.

And still, to render Odjazd in English is very hard. Let me now get to the translation (I'll provide the original too; may be this translation is not that bad after all )):

**********************************************


Departure

As I departed by that chummy highway,
The pansies' eyes were staring great and golden,
With horseshoe rings of sapphire bruises underround.
In limpid azure milled a butterflyway,
And ripe reseda rusted, to the sun beholden.
I later would recall those earthy eyes profound
When I was on my way, I don't know why or how--
They tailed my reverie and stare-endowed
Whatever stareable in this world and beyond.
These eyes what would they see before I would abscond,
Abandoning one hut, into a thousands streets?
Why were they wearing sapphire widow's weeds
While watching my departure trough the rust and jade,
Reseda fragment almost drowned in glassy blades?
Why did they grow more maudlin every time, these eyes?
Why can't you ever leave a thing and say goodbye
Forever, and abandon it to fate somewhere?
Is it against the law to take this road to town?
Why can't you stray too far from yonder golden stare,
With horseshoe rings of sapphire bruises underround?


Bolesław Leśmian
(tr. from Polish by Sandra Celt)







Odjazd

Gdym odjeżdżał na zawsze znajomym gościńcem,
Patrzyły na mnie bratków wielkie, złote oczy,
Podkute szafirowym dookoła sińcem.
Był klomb i rój motyli i błękit przeźroczy,
I rdzawienie się w słońcu dojrzałej rezedy.
A gdy byłem już w drodze, sam nie wiedząc kiedy
I czemu - przypomniałem te oczy, przyziemnie
Śledzące mą zadumę i wpatrzone we mnie
Tym wszystkim, czym się można wpatrzeć w świat i dalej.
Co widziały te oczy, nim w tysiącu alej
Zginąłem, jedną chatę rzucając za sobą?
I czemu z szafirową zawczasu żałobą
Patrzyły w ten mój odjazd poprzez zieleń rdzawą
Rezedy, co pachniała, przytłumiona trawą?
I dlaczego te oczy były coraz łzawsze?
Czy nie wolno nic nigdy porzucać na zawsze
I zostawiać samopas kędyś - na uboczu?
Czy nie wolno odjeżdżać znajomym gościńcem
I oddalać się zbytnio od tych złotych oczu,
Podkutych dookoła szafirowym sińcem?

Bolesław Leśmian

-
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Old 01-14-2015, 03:04 AM   #4
Senna Jawa
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the first (and last?) taste--the initial 3 lines

How do you see the first three verses of my translation of Odjazd? Should I forget it?

**************************************




Departure

When I was leaving by cart down the driveway
The big golden pansies’ eyes looked at me
From under their bruised shod sapphire eyelids.
...
...





***************************************

-

Last edited by Senna Jawa : 01-14-2015 at 04:51 AM.
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Old 01-14-2015, 05:56 AM   #5
Senna Jawa
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First 8 lines (crazy me)

--



Departure


When I was leaving by cart down the driveway
The big golden pansies’ eyes looked at me
From under their bruised shod sapphire eyelids.
There were swarms of flowerflies and the see-through skies,
And under the rusting sun the ripe reseda.
And on my way without knowing when
And why—I recalled those ground level eyes
Following my thoughts and staring at me with
Everything you could stare at the world and further.
Before I got lost in a thousand of alleys, what
Did they see, when I had thrown my cot behind me?
...
...







(A portion)

Bolesław Leśmian
(tr. wh)



******************************************

I must say that with the time passing I appreciate Sandra Celt's translation more and more (sure, I still see serious drawbacks, but nevertheless...).

Last edited by Senna Jawa : 01-14-2015 at 06:07 AM.
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Old 01-14-2015, 11:06 AM   #6
Trixareforkids
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Well now! I like your translation quite a bit. Pray, do continue.

P.S. With your translation, I can see the connection between this and my little piece.
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Last edited by Trixareforkids : 01-14-2015 at 11:26 AM.
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Old 01-17-2015, 04:25 AM   #7
Senna Jawa
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trixareforkids View Post
Well now! I like your translation quite a bit. Pray, do continue.

P.S. With your translation, I can see the connection between this and my little piece.
I finished. I feel terrible. We need a new Leśmian. But at this time that's what I can offer:



Departure


When I was leaving by cart down the driveway
The big golden pansies’ eyes looked at me
From under their bruised shod sapphire eyelids.
There were swarms of flowerflies and the see-through skies,
And under the rusting sun the ripe reseda.
And on my way without knowing when
And why—I recalled those ground level eyes
Following my thoughts and staring at me with
Everything you could stare at the world and further.
Before I got lost in a thousand of alleys, what
Did they see, when I had thrown my cot behind me?
Why already to mourn in sapphire and what
Watching my departure through the rusting green
Of crowded reseda smelling of grass in silence?
And why these eyes were ever more tearful?
Aren’t you allowed to leave everything forever
To let itself graze alone somewhere aside?
Aren’t you allowed to leave old driveway behind
Too carelessly far from these golden eyes
surrounded by their bruised shod sapphire eyelids?










Bolesław Leśmian
(tr. wh)

Last edited by Senna Jawa : 01-17-2015 at 05:44 AM.
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