Our daily prompt asks us 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. ” ~ NaPoWriMo, Day 21
This prompt is an old friend of mine. My advisor in graduate school introduced it to our class and I used it with my students for many years after. I find that it frees me of logic and grammar constraints. It also manages to shut up the judges sitting on my shoulders, who usually roll their eyes at every word I write down. I worked on a homophonic translation from Irish today and will paste it below, followed by the original poem by Doireann Ní Ghríofa and its proper English translation.
Poetry from the trenches, Day 21
. of vocal cords,
of shrieking telephones, will undo absence.
I resign myself to red eyes,
. to thoughts on a loom
that focus my gaze on random things.
Can’t hide from it, you’re not. Again, the line lags
. between us and sleep severs
this timid fever
. as stupor
. already here.
. aon chorda caol,
aon sreang theileafóin sinn níos mó.
I réimse na ríomhairí,
. ní thig liom
do ghuth a bhrú níos gaire do mo chluas.
Ní chloisim tú ag análú. Anois, ’sé an líne lag seo
. an t-aon cheangal amháin atá eadrainn
. as a chéile
. arís eile.
No slender thread,
. no telephone cord
binds us anymore.
Now that our computers call each other,
. I can’t
press your voice to my ear.
No longer can I hear you breathe. Now, we are bound only
by a weak connection
and we break up
. and break up
. and break up.