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  #1  
Unread 05-07-2021, 08:10 PM
mignon ledgard mignon ledgard is offline
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Default Chocano - Song of the Road

José Santos Chocano (Perú 1875—Chile 1934)
Song of the Road

It was a black road.
The night was mad with lightning. I traveled
on my wild colt
around the Andean mountains.
The lively clop of hooves,
like mastications of monstrous mandibles
shattered the invisible glass
of sleeping ponds.
Three million insects
formed as one rabid disharmony.

Suddenly, there, from afar,
in the midst of that mourning and pensive mass
of the jungle,
I saw a handful of lights, like a horde of wasps.

The inn! The fidgety
whip cross-marked the live flesh
of my horse, who tore the air
with a long neigh of gladness.

And as if the jungle understood everything,
it remained mute and cold.

And it reached me, then,
a clear and thin female voice
that sang. It sang. It was its song,
a slow . . . very slow . . . melody:
something akin to a sigh that goes on
and on and on . . . and does not end.

Amid the deep silence of the night,
and across the mountain’s repose,
the chords of a simple song were heard
from an intimate music,
as if they were voices
coming from the other life . . .

I pulled my horse’s reins
and began to hear what it said:

—They all arrive at night,
they all leave at daylight.

And, forming a duet,
another feminine voice
thus completed the dirge
with infinite tenderness:

—Love is but an inn
in the middle of life’s road.

And both voices, then,
with rhythmic bitterness repeated in unison:

—They all arrive at night,
and they all leave at daylight . . .
Then, I got off my horse
and lay down at the edge
of a pond.

And fixed on that song coming
from across the mystery of the jungle,
my eyes began closing to drowsiness and fatigue.

And I fell asleep, lulled, and since then,
when I cross the jungles through unknown routes,
I never look for rest at the inns,
and I sleep away my fatigue in the open air,
because I always remember
that simple song of an intimate music:

—They all arrive at night,
they all leave at daylight!
Love is but an inn
in the middle of life’s road . . .

Translation ~ml


Original:
José Santos Chocano (Perú 1875—Chile 1934)
LA CANCION DEL CAMINO

Era un camino negro.
La noche estaba loca de relámpagos. Yo iba
en mi potro salvaje
por la montañosa andina.
Los chasquidos alegres de los cascos,
como masticaciones de monstruosas mandíbulas
destrozaban los vidrios invisibles
de las charcas dormidas.
Tres millones de insectos
formaban una como rabiosa inarmonía.

Súbito, allá, a lo lejos,
por entre aquella mole doliente y pensativa
de la selva,
vi un puñado de luces, como un tropel de avispas.

¡La posada! El nervioso
látigo persignó la carne viva
de mi caballo, que rasgó los aires
con un largo relincho de alegría.

Y como si la selva comprendiese todo,
se quedó muda y fría.

Y hasta mí llegó, entonces,
una voz clara y fina
de mujer que cantaba. Cantaba. Era su canto
una lenta... muy lenta... melodía:
algo como un suspiro que se alarga
y se alarga y se alarga... y no termina.

Entre el hondo silencio de la noche,
y a través del reposo de la montaña,
oíanse los acordes
de aquel canto sencillo de una música íntima,
como si fuesen voces que llegaran
desde la otra vida…

Sofrené ml caballo;
y me puse a escuchar lo que decía:

—Todos llegan de noche,
todos se van de día...

Y, formándole dúo,
otra voz femenina
completó así la endecha
con ternura infinita:

—El amor es tan sólo una posada
en mitad del camino de la vida.

Y las dos voces, luego,
a la vez repitieron con amargura rítmica:

—Todos llegan de noche,
y todos se van de día ...
Entonces, yo bajé de mi caballo
y me acosté en la orilla
de una charca.

Y fijo en ese canto que venía
a través del misterio de la selva,
fui cerrando los ojos al sueño y la fatiga.

Y me dormí, arrullado; y, desde entonces,
cuando cruzo las selvas por rutas no sabidas,
jamás busco reposo en las posadas;
y duermo al aire libre mi sueño y mi fatiga,
porque recuerdo siempre
aquel canto sencillo de una música íntima:

—Todos llegan de noche,
todos se van de día!
El amor es tan sólo una posada
en mitad del camino de la vida...

~
Changed S3, L2 from 'the whip cross-marked'
to 'whipped the sign of the cross on'

Changed semi-colons for commas,
and "a long jaunty neigh" to
"a long neigh of gladness" on S3, L4
Changed S2, L2 from in-between to in the midst
and from lump to mass.

Penultimate strophe was:

And I fell asleep, lulled; and, since then,
when I cross the jungles through unknown trails,
I never seek rest at the inns; and in open air
I sleep away my drowsiness and my fatigue,
because I always remember
that simple song of intimate music:

Last edited by mignon ledgard; 05-10-2021 at 03:34 PM. Reason: changed punctuation and a phrase, fixed ellipses, corrected S2 and S3
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  #2  
Unread 05-08-2021, 07:28 AM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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.
Hi Mignon,

This passage is mesmerizing:

And it reached me, then,
a clear and thin female voice
that sang. It sang. It was its song,
a slow… very slow… melody:
something akin to a sigh that goes on
and on and on… and does not end.



Perhaps the singing voices should be in italics:

—They all arrive at night,
they all leave at daylight.

and this:

—Love is but an inn
in the middle of life’s road.


and this:

—They all arrive at night,
and they all leave at daylight…
Then, I got off my horse
and lay down at the edge
of a pond.


and this to end:

—They all arrive at night,
they all leave at daylight!
Love is but an inn
in the middle of life’s road…





Although my command of Spanish language is poor, I sense in the translation that this stanza feels too literally translated.

And I fell asleep, lulled; and, since then,
when I cross the jungles through unknown trails,
I never seek rest at the inns; and in open air
I sleep away my drowsiness and my fatigue,
because I always remember
that simple song of intimate music:




But my overall reaction to the translation is that it is a haunting, beautiful tale. Well done.


.
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  #3  
Unread 05-08-2021, 11:51 AM
mignon ledgard mignon ledgard is offline
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Default Chocano's Song of the Road

Hello, Jim!

Pleased to meet you, Jim. This is my first post at Eratosphere; it’s very encouraging that you have enjoyed the story and found a part of it to be mesmerizing.

The strophe you pointed to, oh my, there’s something palpably wrong with it, how impressive that you caught it through the English version! What’s interesting is that the problem arises from having deviated more from the literal than was necessary. I’m loving this! These wonderful mysteries..

About the italics. I, too, had thought of it and tried it, but I didn’t find them to be pretty, while the author’s use of dashes seemed enough, since these short lines are not intermingled or within another strophe. But I’ll think about it some more.

Thank you so much! I’ll fix that strophe right away..
~mignon
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Unread 05-09-2021, 01:56 PM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
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Mignon, I don't know Spanish, so I can't be of much help on the nuances. I could follow the dashes signifying the women's song, and I found the poem to be evocative. I will point to places I was puzzled. I was wondering in S1L8 whether the speaker was riding through the ponds. I now think that probably he was just riding beside them and that the vibrations were rippling the otherwise still ponds. In S2L2 I just cannot picture a lump of jungle. Perhaps a mass of jungle? I also have trouble picturing a neigh as being jaunty in S3. Is the horse perhaps glad to be nearing an inn and anticipating rest and food? If so perhaps the neigh could be of gladness or relief. In S7 the semicolon after "reins" seems out of place, where I would expect either a comma or no punctuation, since the verb continues to refer to the subject of the previous clause. One note on punctuation: in an ellipsis ( . . . ) it is usual, at least in the US, to put a space before and after each period.

Susan
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  #5  
Unread 05-09-2021, 07:51 PM
mignon ledgard mignon ledgard is offline
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Default Chocano's Song of the Road

Dear Susan,

You ask terrific questions, which I will try to answer. “Charca” is pond or well. But, since it’s been lightning, I assume it was also raining, and that it looks like a pond, but it’s a conglomerate of puddles.. I love your thought about vibrations, but I think the crashing of glass is the horse’s hooves ruining the mirror surface of the water. In Spanish, it refers to “vidrios invisibles,” invisible glass, but in plural - I don’t think inserting ‘pieces’ would work too well in English. I'll have to think about it..

About the punctuation, yes, it is very odd. I ended up deciding to stick with the original, because it is odd in Spanish, too, and in the same way as it is odd in English. But I’ll fix it, because I think it is more important that it be read as naturally as possible, in English. Thank you!

About the ellipsis, I didn’t know the spaces between periods were a rule in English. It gives more of a sensation of slowing down.. I can do that . . . I have developed the bad habit to using two.. and have grown so fond of it that I don’t want to change it, even though it may look like a mistake; but that’s for my stuff.

Oh! I was forgetting about ‘jaunty.’ It took a while to decide which word was best and it seemed to be ‘jaunty.’ It took a long while to decide what word to use. I read, referring to a horse, about “the jauntiness of his step.” I haven’t used that word before, so I was very excited about it. I’ll just have to mourn it’s departure. Maybe ‘neigh of contentment.’ Or neigh of jubilance? Neigh of jauntiness? I am 'getting' why not as a qualifier for neigh. Thanks!

I am rejoicing, with jauntiness in my step! It’s been a long and lonely road for me with translations.

Thank you, Susan!
~mignon

I forgot to address 'the lump'-- will come back. Many thanks!
Got rid of the lump and used your suggestion: mass.
I used all your suggestions. Only one is pending, I think.

Last edited by mignon ledgard; 05-09-2021 at 08:55 PM. Reason: addendum 2
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  #6  
Unread 05-09-2021, 09:02 PM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
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Mignon, I was wondering whether "charcas" could mean "puddles," because that would be much easier to visualize than "ponds" in this context. I did not suggest adding "pieces."

Susan
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Unread 05-09-2021, 09:15 PM
mignon ledgard mignon ledgard is offline
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Default Chocano's Song of the Road

Susan,

No, I thought of pieces, because, in Spanish, vidrios (glass) is in plural, which made me think it was puddles but saturated to where it forms one same surface and looks like a pond.

At Key West, I thought I was going to take a plunge in the water, and it was only ankle deep. But 'charcos,' with an 'o' is puddles. I think the poet favors the image and lets the reader figure out the meaning. Too bad he's not among us to ask him. I say this because the mourning and pensive mass of the jungle seems like a projection of the effect it has. More often than not, it will be my poor choice of word, which is why it is heavenly to count on generous English speakers like Jim and you. I'm so grateful!

Until now, I didn't know I could have fun with translations. I have a strange attraction to getting myself to do them, but I never have liked it. The company makes a huge difference!

**It was a black night, the pond was invisible, and duh to myself, since I have crossed a river on horseback when the tide was low. So, yes, the horse could well cross a shallow pond.

On the part about the neigh of gladness, the cross-whipping, in Spanish, is 'the sign of the cross,' which seems to be a benediction the rider uses upon stopping to rest, which the horse understands, and this is why he neighs with gladness. So, again, you were right in your interpretation, Susan!

Last edited by mignon ledgard; 05-10-2021 at 04:22 AM. Reason: to delete mental meanderings and add the last addendum
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  #8  
Unread 05-10-2021, 01:24 PM
F.F. Teague's Avatar
F.F. Teague F.F. Teague is offline
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Hello mignon,

I don't think I've posted on Translation before, but I saw your name and I thought I'd pop in. I'm pleased to see you here and I hope you'll share some of your own poetry soon, if that's what you'd like to do.

My language skills are modest (bits of German and Italian, A Level French, undergrad degree-level Latin), but for what it's worth I really enjoyed reading your translation. I like the drama of the poem and especially the moment when the 'clear and thin female voice' sings, cutting through the night.

Best wishes,
Fliss
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Unread 05-10-2021, 03:45 PM
mignon ledgard mignon ledgard is offline
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Default Chocano's Song of the Road

Dear Fliss,

I'm glad you stopped by to let me know you enjoyed the poem.

I think we are allowed to post only once a week, but I am looking forward to sharing my own poems, too.

Thank you for your kind words and encouragement.
~mignon
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Unread 05-10-2021, 03:53 PM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
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Mignon, because the Translation board does not get a lot of traffic, you are allowed to post once a week on another workshop as well as once a week on Translation.

Susan
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