The Den of the Half Far To Go Hemline

NaPoWriMo Day 30: Because we’ve spent our month looking at poets in English translation, today I’d like you to try your hand at a translation of your own. If you know a foreign language, you could take a crack at translating a poem by a poet writing in that language. If you don’t know a foreign language, or are up for a different kind of challenge, you could try a homophonic translation. Simply find a poem (or other text) in a language you don’t know, and then “translate” it based on the look or sound of the words. Stuck for a poem to translate? Why not try this one by Nobel Laureate Wislawa Szymborska? Or here’s one by another Laureate, Tomas Transtromer. Happy writing!

Models abbreviate its course
Angst abbreviates its course
A game, short of a sin, to flick (lop) off a “P

The urge of the jet set’s inner frame
Even spoke of it as a clunky signature

Oh every manager should eat ice cream
It is as satisfying as the rose de jour

All “oms” bore mixed up smoke rings
Vigorous solar by the hundreds

Half mannequins blocked the door
Some limbs filled with rum for Allah

The ouija board marked under us

A vast net of melancholy trading

Enjoying our fondue and Jordan almonds.

~Just L (April 30, 2016)

This may be the silliest poem I have ever written. I simply looked at each line, chose phrases that appeared familiar or looked at the shape of the words, didn’t think beyond to its connection to the next thought, and this is what I got! It was a good way to the end the month as April of 2016 proved to be much more serious, beyond foreign, and at times extremely trying than I ever imagined going into it.

Original Text:

Den halvfärdiga himlen

Modlösheten avbryter sitt lopp.
Ångesten avbryter sitt lopp.
Gamen avbryter sin flykt.

Det ivriga ljuset rinner fram,
även spökena tar sig en klunk.

Och våra målningar kommer i dagen,
våra istidsateljéers röda djur.

Allting börjar se sig omkring.
Vi går i solen hundratals.

Var människa en halvöppen dörr
som leder till ett rum för alla.

Den oändliga marken under oss.

Vattnet lyser mellan träden.

Insjön är ett fönster mot jorden.

Ur Den halvfärdiga himlen, Bonniers 1962
Copyright © Tomas Tranströmer 1962
Återgiven med vänligt tillstånd av Tomas Tranströmer och Bonniers

Dikten vald av Svenska Akademiens Nobelbibliotek.

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