Polishing Polish

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It’s Tuesday, which means another challenge from Margo Roby: “this is a simple prompt: find a poem in a language other than English and translate it into English. [I didn’t say the exercise is simple, just the prompt.]”

After a few fits, starts and blind alleys, I decided to look for the work of a female Polish poet. I am half Polish, but only speak about six words of the language, mostly food-related. I chose the following poem by Mila Kus:

SWIETO

Znuzyly mnie juz rozwazania
nad istota Czasu
nad sensem cierpienia
i nieuchronnoscia przemijania

Oto
rumiana stokrotka
na wilgotnej lace
przebija sie do slonca
I pianie koguta
w krystalicznym powietrzu
wznosi sie
obwieszczajac wiosne

uroda natury
argument “za” nie do odparcia

Here is my attempt to translate this poem into English. This was tricky because Kus interposed some English words (lace, argument) as well as some spellings that are not traditionally Polish. I felt the need to add a few words to flesh out my idea of what she may be trying to say. Here goes:

HOLIDAY

Already so tired of considering
the essence of Time,
the meaning of suffering,
the inevitability of passing on

Here
the blood-red daisy
on damp lace
punctured by sunlight,
And the crow of the rooster
in the crystalline air
rising up to announce
the arrival of spring

nature’s beauty
an argument too compelling

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5 thoughts on “Polishing Polish

  1. Any translation to one who does not speak the language is more than acceptable.

    I get two things out of your translation 1) that holidays can be a pain in the neck – especially for those who have to do all the work in preparing for the celebration – but maybe that is just from where I am coming from. And 2) I would perhaps like the poetess, would rather be out celebrating nature than stuffed in a kitchen?

    Thanks for your visit to my haibun. If you can write a haiku, if you can write prose – you to can write a haibun 🙂

  2. Like this one Barbara. Another way to approach this prompt is one I’ve done several times. You choose a language you don’t know at all, and “translate” based either on how you think the words sound, or how they look. For the second one you would then use English words that look similar to you at the time. It can be a fun result with interesting juxtapositions.

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