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Last week I learned that …

April 29, 2013


Last week I learned that maybe I would not be able to translate poems from the Portuguese to the English (or indeed the other way at anytime).  Even with much electronic help my attempt will be clumsy and best left to the experts.

Still this week I have been reading Poemas escolhidos de Elizabeth Bishop, a Portuguese publication with the original English text and Portuguese translation.  

There are one or two poems I particularly enjoyed and perhaps one day I will unravel the translation. However, until then I have made a little print; a bit of a cop-out as the fish in the poem described by the fisherman was ‘tremendo peixe’ who has over its long life time survived at least 5 ‘catchings’ and had the scars to prove it.

The Fish O Peixe

‘… I admired his sullen face,

the mechanism of his jaw,

and then I saw

that from his lower lip

-if you can call it a lip –

grim, wet and weaponlike,

hung, five old pieces of fish-line ,

or four and a wire leader

with a swivel still attached,

with all their five big hooks grown firmly in his mouth.

A greenline, frayed the end

where he broke it, two heavier lines,

and a fine black thread

still crimped from the strain and snap

when it broke and he got away.

Like medals with their ribbons

frayed and wavering, a five-haired beard of wisdom

trailing from his aching jaw’

My rather insignificant attempt to represent this bearded wise old man made me smile at the end of a week when some of the lessons learned were painful and best left unmentioned.

2013-04-28 07.46.35

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Sisyphus47 permalink
    April 29, 2013 10:05 am

    Translation is difficult, and translating poetry perhaps the most difficult… Interesting post friend 😉

    • April 29, 2013 10:11 am

      Yes I agree! even reading poetry is a gift! not always shared 🙂

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