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Unread 03-24-2020, 01:36 PM
AZ Foreman's Avatar
AZ Foreman AZ Foreman is offline
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Default A Modern Occitan poem on Asymptote's Blog

My first publication credit for a translation from Modern Occitan, a poem about becoming brutal in colonial Indo-China, featured here on Asymptote's translation blog today.
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Unread 03-24-2020, 06:09 PM
Roger Slater Roger Slater is offline
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Congratulations. My Occitan is a bit rusty (as in, is Occitan really a language?) but your translation reads very well.
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Unread 03-25-2020, 01:24 AM
Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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Fortunately, the introduction sneered at the poet for being "culturally ignorant" before I got too swept up in the beauty of the translation and the poignancy of the poem's contrast between tranquility and horror.

It would have been a terrible, terrible injustice if I had been allowed to admire this poem more than it deserved, even for an instant.

(Seriously, thanks for sharing this poet and poem with a wider audience, Alex. I'm glad to have been introduced to both. I would love to see the original, if you're inclined to post it.)
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Unread 03-25-2020, 08:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Julie Steiner View Post
Fortunately, the introduction sneered at the poet for being "culturally ignorant" before I got too swept up in the beauty of the translation and the poignancy of the poem's contrast between tranquility and horror.
(And my understanding is that there are some people, including some in Southeast Asia, who do worship the Buddha as an actual god.)

Quote:
(Seriously, thanks for sharing this poet and poem with a wider audience, Alex. I'm glad to have been introduced to both. I would love to see the original, if you're inclined to post it.)
You're most welcome. Here's the original poem in its original orthography as published in Li Gabian

Lou Bouddha
Juli Bouissiero

Brulavon un oustau nòsti soudard vincèire;
Lou mèstre emé si fiéu peralin fugissié
Souto la fusihado; e sus l’autar di rèire,
Liuen d’apara l’oustau, l’autar e li vièi crèire,
Is ome aloubati lou Bouddha sourrisié.

Quant d’ouro an debana desempèi! Mounte es aro
L’oustau? Mount es lou diéu poupu de quau la caro
Sourrisènto retrais lou sort indiferènt?
E souto lou cèu mut, quand l’ome prègo e crido,
Revese dóu Bouddha li gauto acoulourido,
E sa fàci de luno, e si vistoun seren.


Here's my transposition of it into the modern "nòrma classica" which is much less phonemic and more historical, but has gained appeal because of its cross-dialect intelligibility.

Lo Boddha
Juli Boïssièra

Brulavan un ostau, nòstei soudards vincèires;
— Lo mèstre ambé sei fius peralin fugissiá
Sota la fusilhada; e sus l'autar dei rèires,
Luènh d'aparar l'ostau, l'autar e lei vièlhs crèires,
Ais òme' alobatits lo Boddha sorrisiá

Quant d'ora' an debanat desempèi! Monte es ara
L'ostau? Monte es lo Dièu poput de quau la cara
Sorrisenta retrais lo Sòrt indifferent?
— E sota lo cèu mut, quand l'òme prèga e crida,
Revese dau Boddha lei gauta' acolorida'
E sa fàcia de luna, e sei vistóns serens.


And here's a recording of me reading the text in Provençal on my soundcloud

Boissière's own speech (not least because he was a native speaker of Lengadocian rather than Provençal) would almost certainly have had a coronal rather than uvular /r/, but the uvular realization is now ubiquitous in Provençal, including the Rhodanian dialect which formed the basis for the literary standard of the Felibrige.

(I've also posted all of this, alongside the translation, on my blog.)

Last edited by AZ Foreman; 03-25-2020 at 09:30 AM.
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Unread 03-25-2020, 10:10 AM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
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Good translation, Alex, though I have no Occitan with which to judge its accuracy. The poem in translation is more nuanced than the introduction gives it credit for.

Susan
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Unread 03-25-2020, 02:56 PM
Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Susan McLean View Post
The poem in translation is more nuanced than the introduction gives it credit for.
I wholeheartedly agree.

Thank you for the Occitan, Alex, which I can look at self-importantly and congratulate myself for almost understanding, and for the beautiful SoundCloud reading, which I enjoyed very much.
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Unread 03-26-2020, 01:15 AM
Damian Balassone Damian Balassone is offline
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That's a lovely piece of writing AZ. Thanks.
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Unread 03-27-2020, 12:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Julie Steiner View Post
I wholeheartedly agree.

Thank you for the Occitan, Alex, which I can look at self-importantly and congratulate myself for almost understanding, and for the beautiful SoundCloud reading, which I enjoyed very much.
You're most welcome. Here's a literal translation of the Occitan to help.

Our victorious soldiers set a house on fire.
The maste/owner, with his sons, went fleeing far yonder
under gunfire; and, on the altar of the ancestors,
far from guarding the house, the altar, and the old creeds,
the Buddha smiled at the wolflike men.
How many hours have passed since? Where now
is the house? Where is the pudgy god whose smiling
face is like indifferent fate?
And, under the mute heavens, when Man prays and cries,
I see the colorful/ruddy jaws of the Buddha,
His moon face, and his tranquil pupils.
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