Saturday, August 25, 2007

The Fine Art of Translatio..

So me and the BKF are trying to translate some unread Korean classic into English...

Well, sort of.. apparently it has first been translated from Chinese to Korean. Now BKF and I are asked to translate this thing...

First from Korean to English (Him with a bit of me - I'll explain this process later)

and then

From prose to something resembling rhyme (Me with a bit of him)

Oh - and we have to do a literal translation.

Which is ridiculous, since this whole process is already something like the game "telephone" that we played in elementary school, except there are three languages involved. What we have is probably the remotest relation to the original text - we have the ashes of a chicken who was once injected with homeopathic medicine, boiled in a stew and the remnants tossed into the fire. We are asked to maintain the essence of the medicine at the heart of the art.

Consequently we both drink...

I do something like this:




Have I entered the enchanted peach garden? The flowers bloom everywhere.


The love I bear is difficult to put to words.

Have I entered the enchanted peach garden? The flowers bloom everywhere.


It is difficult to put into words the love I bear.

That's simple enough as the rhyme was actually in the words and not much violence is done to literality.

It gets more complicated.







The power of stroke overflowed

And drawn a thousand peaks at the center of a river

How magnificent the thirty thousand yard Mountain Bangho is!

Mysterious, half of it soars amidst clouds.


Several hundreds leagues of terrains stretches vaguely ahead

And the blue conch shell of the summit is anchored right before the eyes.


Waves of blue ocean hovers above

Setting sun returns the memory of the hometown.

Melancholic one becomes watching the drawing

Like a lone boat on Sosang River Bay in wind and rain.

The power of brushstroke overflowed

And drew a thousand peaks at a river's core


How magnificent the thirty thousand yard Mountain Bangho

Mysterious, half of it soars above the clouds below.

Several hundreds leagues of land stretches off to the skies

The blue conch shell of the summit is anchored before the eyes.

Waves of blue ocean spread like a crown

Setting sun returns the memory of the hometown.

One becomes melancholic watching the drawing

Like a boat on stormy Sosang River Bay, pitching and yawing.

Now the rhymes are beginning to get sketchy although I think the idea is still there..
Oddly (probably not), the biggest problem comes with simple, short sentences full of concrete example.

One of the last verses I am puzzling over is one of the simplest:

Picking up a green apricot and throwing it at a nightingale
In the southern pavilion the wind passes and the passing sun is slow

The lotus leaf spreads fragrance and the pond is filled to the brim with water

In the deep of the blue waves a cormorant bathes.


Of course I'll re-open the Word document and some bit of hideous doggerel will spring to my mind.
I
think we need to turn in two versions, one rhyming and one not. At this precise moment I have little confidence in what I'm cranking out. And imagine my surprise to find the deadline for initial submission is next Friday, not late September as the website indicates.

BKF and Soju will put paid to that sort of defeatism, I imagine!

Next - Why a "Library Book" is like a gravesite... Or, a "Semi-Occidental Incident of Translation"

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Send me (and the Momster) what you have and we'll read it for flow, etc.

We can make any rhyming suggestions as well if you'd like....

yer sis

Anonymous said...

Picking up a green apricot toward the nightingale to throw


In the southern pavilion the wind slips by and the passing sun is slow


The fragrance of the lotus leaf spreads and the pond water brims


In the deep blue waves a cormorant swims.


Yer Sis

rwellor said...

that is nice... I made two slight changes and slapped it right in there... if "swims" er... well... swims... all is well...


Gracias..