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Old 09-10-2018, 02:25 PM
Martin Rocek's Avatar
Martin Rocek Martin Rocek is offline
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Default September (Září) by Karel Kryl

September

August is bringing
........September from the west.
A tuft of asters
........blooms under the rowans--
the serrated sun
........beats without interest
on stands with papers,
........flowers, and ice cream cones.

ref:
Some fools are risking
........their necks to bear witness--
an early autumn
........vainly waits for the snow.
We don’t meddle in
........other peoples’ business.
As for our own, we
........know we don’t want to know.
........
And lazy clouds like
........caravels sail across
the various skies
........above various lands--
courage weighs and waits,
........weighs, above the abyss,
memories of those
........who remember mere remnants.

**************
Recording the song in the studio:
https://youtu.be/oGcLp0TKAjc

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

Changes: (Thank you A. Sterling and Don)
The last two lines of S1 were:
on kiosks selling
........hot dogs and ice cream cones.
The last two lines of the refrain were:
as for our own, we
........don’t want even to know.
S2 was:
And lazy clouds like
........caravels sail across
varied skies and lands,
........crossing all September,
courage weighs and waits,
........weighs, above the abyss,
memories of those
........who barely can remember.

I have repunctuated the whole song after finding the correct original punctuation (see note below)*,
and some more following Don's suggestions; thank you Don.

Possible alternates:
S1L(6-8) (Thanks Aaron):
........beats on the shopfront glass—
on kiosks selling
........papers and ice cream cones.

S2:
And lazy clouds like
........caravels sail across
varied skies and lands
........with various laments.
Courage weighs and waits,
........weighs, above the abyss,
memories of those
........who remember mere remnants.
or, closer to the original:
And lazy clouds like
........caravels sail across
the various skies
........of various homelands.
Courage weighs and waits,
........weighs above the abyss
memories of those
........who remember mere remnants.

**************
Crib:

September

August brought September from the west.
A clump/tuft of asters blooms under the rowans--
a toothy/serrated/jagged sun beats on vitrines--
on stands with hotdogs, flowers, newspapers.

ref:
A number of fools carry [their] skin to the market [risk their necks]--
and early autumn waits futilely for the snow:
We don’t meddle in foreign affairs/others’ things--
and even less -- actually -- in our own.

And clouds like caravels drift/sail
from sky to sky of various nations/lands--
courage hesitates/weighs, hesitates/weighs above the abyss
memories of those, who barely remember.

[ref:]x2


Original:
Září

Přinesl srpen září od Západu.
Trs aster kvete pod jeřabinami—
zubaté slunce bije do výkladů—
do stánků s buřty, květy, novinami.

ref:
Několik bláznů na trh kůži nese—
a časný podzim marně čeká na sníh:
…Do cizích věcí nevměšujeme se —
a ještě méně — vlastně — do těch vlastních.

A mraky jako Karavely plují
od nebe k nebi přerozličných vlastí—
odvaha váhá, váhá nad propastí
paměti těch, kdo sotva pamatují.

[ref:]x2


Notes:

A short, late Kryl song with a light melody and playfully bitter words.

I have posted some possible alternates -- any comments would be much appreciated.

*I have repunctuated the Czech text, as I had originally taken the punctuation from a songbook, and now I have replaced it with the published text. I have also repunctuated the crib and my translation.
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Old 09-10-2018, 09:56 PM
A. Sterling A. Sterling is offline
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Hi Martin,

I like this, and will attempt to come back to it later to say more. But the thing that strikes me right now, reading this, is that leaving out the “newspapers” in S1 also means leaving out the only hint in the first stanza that things are about to take a political turn in the second. I’m also a bit skeptical about “crossing all Septembers,” in S3, which doesn’t communicate a whole lot and also doesn’t reflect the subtle political dimension in the original—since each country doesn’t actually have its own separate sky, that part reads a bit ironically to me. The moreso because I was under the impression that “vlast” is more along the lines of “fatherland” than “country.”
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Old 09-11-2018, 07:26 AM
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Don Jones Don Jones is offline
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Hey Martin,

An effective little song. Quite delicate but powerful.

Last line of the refrain has skewed syntax with the adverb. How about “don’t even want to know”?

Is the following from your crib—A number of fools carry [their] skin to the market [risk their necks]—a common idiom in the original like "neck" for "life" in English or is it a metonym particular to this song? If the latter I would somehow work it into your translation. An arresting image.

I agree with A. Sterling’s note on “crossing all September” in relation to the crib.

I favor the changes you suggest for the last two lines of S1.

Don

Last edited by Don Jones; 09-11-2018 at 07:47 AM. Reason: Copyedits
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Old 09-11-2018, 05:15 PM
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Martin Rocek Martin Rocek is offline
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Hi A. Sterling,
Welcome to the ‘sphere and thank you for reading and commenting. I have adopted your suggestion and gone with my alternate ending for S1.

“September” is there just for the rhyme; I am playing with an alternative:

And lazy clouds like
........caravels sail across
varied skies and lands
........with various laments.
Courage weighs and waits,
........weighs, above the abyss,
memories of those
........who remember mere remnants.


or perhaps fragments instead of remnants.

“vlasti” does mean “homelands”, but I think the emphasis here is on “přerozličných”, that is “various”, so I don’t think that I am doing violence to the meaning by using simply “lands”.

Don,
Thank you for reading and commenting. As I said above, I have adopted your suggestion and gone with my alternate ending for S1. What do you think of my new idea for S2?

“Carrying one’s skin to the market” is an expression in Czech and in German, actually, and “risking one’s neck” is a pretty good translation, so even though the original is striking, it would be too opaque to translate literally.

The last line of the refrain is a tough nut to crack, being constrained by rhyme (with “snow”) and rhythm. Kryl pauses after the second syllable, so I cannot use “don’t even”:
- vlastně - do těch vlastních.
don’t want - even - to know.

I am hoping that when it is sung it is OK. Further thoughts would be most welcome.
Edited in:
about our own, we
even don't want to know.

works as far as the music goes, but is even worse in terms of syntax; I'll keep thinking!

Thank you again both for reading and for your helpful comments; I hope that you have something to say about my proposed S2.

Martin

p.s. Another idea, with a more slanted rhyme but closer to the original meaning, is:

And lazy clouds like
........caravels sail across
the various skies
........above various lands.
Courage weighs and waits,
........weighs, above the abyss,
memories of those
........who remember mere remnants.


or yet another variant:

the different skies
........of different homelands.


Thank you in advance for any comments.
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Old 09-12-2018, 01:35 PM
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Martin Rocek Martin Rocek is offline
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I have put some possible variants up above--any comments, thoughts, etc. would be much appreciated.
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Old 09-13-2018, 07:20 AM
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Don Jones Don Jones is offline
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Hi Martin,

I opt for:

And lazy clouds like
........caravels sail across
the various skies
........above various lands.
Courage weighs and waits,
........weighs, above the abyss,
memories of those
........who remember mere remnants.


I like the repetition of "various" along with "weighs."

A question about something I didn't previously notice. Your rewrite:

as for our own, we
........know we don’t want to know.


But your crib reads:

we don’t meddle in foreign affairs/others’ things
- and even less - actually - in our own.


Where is the idea of the absence of desire, "don't want to know," as reflected in your translation? The crib conveys the idea of simply not doing something (not meddling in our own affairs). I do like your rewrite in terms of English but now I'm not certain it's conveying the original. What do you think?

Also, I would place a period at the end of L2 in the refrain and start with a new sentence in L3. It would be a nice separation of thought. As for a semi-colon at the end of L6 of the refrain, I would place a period to complete the thought. Then the following statement, whose referent for "as for our own" would be understood, is more effective. Plus, semi-colons are terribly fussy and this is a lovely lyric. Less punctuation is always best.

Keep plugging. This is worth the effort.

Don

Added in: heard the recording. The song is gorgeous. Beautiful language too!

Last edited by Don Jones; 09-13-2018 at 07:25 AM. Reason: Correction
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Old 09-13-2018, 09:55 PM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is online now
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Martin, this reads very smoothly.

I think the opening stanza needs semicolons or periods instead of commas.

Also, I still think you can improve on:

the serrated sun
........beats without interest
on stands with papers
........flowers and ice cream cones.

In particular the wordy "without interest" and the preposition "with" (instead of "selling").

Best,

Aaron
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Old 09-14-2018, 12:49 PM
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Martin Rocek Martin Rocek is offline
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Hi Aaron,
thank you for reading and commenting. I discovered that I had the original punctation all wrong--it was taken from a songbook that was careless with it; I now used the published text of the song, and applied that punctuation as best I could to my translation--does that solve the problems or introduce new ones?

I kind of like "beats without interest", both as a rhyme for "from the west", and as anticipating the theme of the song--people's apathy; however, I have come up with an alternative for the line:
........beats on the shopfront glass—
what do you think?
"stands with" is a literal translation of the original; of course, in the original, "with" is "s" and doesn't actually take a syllable. I have come up with an alternative, but I have to sacrifice the flowers to fit the rhythm:
on kiosks selling
........papers and ice cream cones.
do you think that is better?
If you could come up with a better rhyme for rowans, that would give me much more flexibility, but all my efforts so far have failed.

Thank you again!

Martin
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Old 09-14-2018, 07:16 PM
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Don Jones Don Jones is offline
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Martin,

I do like the rewrite for S1. Capitalize L3 of S1 and put commas after "papers" and after "flowers."

I second "selling papers." The extra beat with "selling" is fine. I would relax about the rhythm. Your rhymes can be quite slant (by no means a sin) though I assume that they are perfect rhymes in the original. Can I assume the rhythm is stricter in the original? If so, you can take liberty there as you have with the rhymes.

"Without interest" works.

As for

We don’t meddle in
........other peoples’ business--
as for our own, we
........know we don’t want to know.


I suggested

We don’t meddle in
........other peoples’ business.
As for our own, we
........know we don’t want to know.


It works grammatically and emphasizes the import of that line. It's clear that "other" and "own" are parallel.

In all, very nice.

Don
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Old 09-19-2018, 11:00 PM
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Martin Rocek Martin Rocek is offline
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Don,
thank you for coming back and for your suggestions; I have corrected the typo and capitalized the beginning of L3, and accepted your suggestions for commas, as well as repunctuating S2.
I am leery of playing with the rhythm, since I do want the text to fit the music--do you think that putting in an extra syllable wouldn't interfere--Kryl sings pretty quickly and I can't seem to squeeze it in when I sing along. His meter is very regular, there are only two modifications anywhere.

Thank you again! Any further thoughts will be much appreciated.

Martin
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