To begin ...

As the twentieth century fades out
the nineteenth begins
.......................................again
it is as if nothing happened
though those who lived it thought
that everything was happening
enough to name a world for & a time
to hold it in your hand
unlimited.......the last delusion
like the perfect mask of death

Monday, May 3, 2010

Jerome Rothenberg: Gomringer Englished with a Note on Translation

[From Eugen Gomringer, The Book of Hours and Constellations: Gomringer by Rothenberg, Something Else Press, 1968]




























*

gleichmässig gleich gleichmässig ungleich ungleichmässig
gleich ungleichmässig ungleich gleichmässig
gleich


gleichmässig ungleich ungleichmässig gleich
ungleichmässig ungleich gleichmässig gleich gleichmässig

alike like alike unlike unalike
like unalike unlike alike
like
alike unlike unalike like

straightforward straight straightforward unstraight unstraightforward
straight unstraightforward unstraight straightforward
straight
straightforward unstraight unstraightforward straight
unstraightforward unstraight straightforward straight straightforward


*
hang and swinging hang and swinging
hang and grow and swinging hang
and grow downwards and swinging hang and
grow downwards and touch the ground and
swinging hang and grow downwards and
touch the ground and then off and search
and swinging hang and grow downwards
and touch the ground and then off and
search and not find a place and swinging
hang and grow downwards and touch
the ground and then off and search and not
find a place and grow and swinging
hang and grow downwards and touch
the ground and then off and search and not
find a place and grow upwards and swinging
hang and grow downwards and touch
the ground and then off and search and not
find a place and grow upwards and force
a new growth and swinging hang and
grow downwards and touch the ground and
then off and search and not find a place
and grow upwards and force a new growth
and hang and swinging hang and
grow downwards and touch the ground and
then off and search and not find a place
and grow upwards and force a new growth and
swinging hang


ROTHENBERG’S PRE-FACE
[from a letter to Eugen Gomringer 9th November 1967]

... As a poet (but not a “concrete”-poet) part of the interest of concrete poetry for me is the clear light it throws on the nature of all poetry. You speak of constellations, [Ian Hamilton] Finlay speaks of corners, I speak elsewhere of combinations – but always it’s a question of making the words cohere in a given space, the poem’s force or strength related to the weight & value of the words within it, the way they pull and act on each other. The poetry shows this beautifully; the problem of translation is related to it also & throws its own clear light on how & why we translate.

So I’m trying to get a variety of work into the book, & this involves the following approaches to translation. (1) Poems that present the “normal” problems of translation & which I handle as I would I would any poem; for example, “you green” or “hang & swinging hang” [above]. (2) Poems with a limited number of word forms in a fixed relationship & with enough translatable meanings to allow the possibility of multiple translations into English; for example, “gleichmässig gleich gleichmässig ungleich ungleichmässig,” which I can do (keeping the close relationship & with adjustment of prefix or suffix as “alike like alike unlike unalike” or (distorting slightly but here the suffix is clearer) as “straightforward straight,” etc., & present two or more versions as the translation. (3) Translations involving minimal choices (for example, the 24 nouns of stundenbuh [the “book of hours”] & the decision to make dein “your” or “thy”), after which the poem, however long, is more or less self-generating & translator’s interference should be almost nothing. (4) Other poems in which vocabulary is very restricted & preciseEnglish translations can’t possibly meet all the formal requirements; here I sometimes keep the form intact & bring in an unrelated vocabulary series – thus, in “blüte blatt zweig” [not shown here] I translate the partly alliterative words as “moon mist rain” or “shadow shower clouds” rather than distorting the simple vocabulary into “frond fruit bough.” (5) Poems where the preceding would be poiintless or impossible & that only need a gloss for the reader with no German vocabulary at all; for example “fisch schif” = “fish ship.” (6) Poems where the English & German readings are identical, “wind” [above] or “ping pong” or “lo zen le zen el cid,” which isn’t German anyway. (7) Poems previously translated by Gomringer. (8) Poems – for example, “snow” – written by Gomringer in English. (9) Instances of the latter where (why not?) I translate English into German [“mann frau,” above, and a German transcreation of “snow,” published elsewhere]. All of which makes the book, as “translation,” a very interesting & curious document. For me certainly.

*

homage to gomringer


g o g o g o g o g o
o g o g o g o g o g
g o n o n o n o n o
o m g m g m g m g g
g r r r r r r r r o
o i i i i i i i i g
g n n n n n n n n o
o g g g g g g g g g
g e e e e e e e e o
o r r r r r r r r g


(j.r.)

2 comments:

namitha said...

I liked this content/ article. I would certainly recommend the same to others as well.

http://www.picturebite.com

Old 333 said...

Namitha, what gentle sentiment. Why does it seem so familiar? Echoes through time...(and robots flying there)...

Monsieur Rothenberg: Having a flip through. I'm allowed to read again, and bookmarked you long ago in a galaxy i don't quite recall.

Enjoying so far. I think your posts may be large for the modern mindspace - we are a drugged and twitchy nation (not me - I use quality psychiatric meds instead of tap water and live in the woods).

I very much appreciate your making your work available, and agree with you utterly on the new/old tradition of self-publishing. Google protects one's copyrights rather well, too, unless I muffed the fine print (and mad or not i read rather well).

Imagine people putting books into something called a Kindler. Nobody even GETS it, except the sort of people who call a land-development front company Yrainucep (true local story!) before bilking the local city council. Are folk waiting for the 4.51 version?

What you are doing by going public is preserving your own art from the publishing-industry monsters who would burn it all before seeing a scrap of it out of their control. Heck, that's not even a resentiment - i neither expect nor have tried much to get published, although i'm well aware i have the knack. It's more about what I can get done FOR OTHERS before I die than it is about who says I'm the next species of pretty fish to be discovered. I didn't survive all that other stuff and start writing full-time again to put it in a big paper squeeze-box and cry at it.

Massive, free electronic distribution of art and what passes for news and analysis these days hasn't hurt the magazine industry a-tall so far - quite the reverse, from what I hear. If the lit industry is having a problem - it might be that their stable is a bit lacking, eh?

Whinny.

And thanks again. I'll be back to read some more after I take my meds and go for a walk and...well, it could be days, really. But having finished my current proyecto, I'm allowed to read again! Yay! (self-imposed work effort on the 333 project negated leisure - 333 poems publicated in 1/3 of a year hoheehahsnurfletwitchtwitch). Easy. (tic)(tic) Honest.
(i stole from my notebooks in the end - thirty or forty poems are totally illegally in the stack)(speaking of illegal, all these brackets are making this grammar awfully suspect - i like shady grammar, it's my special poetic superpower in my opinion)

Anyway - thanks. Talk to ya -
(short form 'tty' got from my ex this response: "Teletypewriter???")

PG