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Two translations of the same poem
by Lily Hayashi


(Portuguese)
Querendo caminhar

Os pensamentos podem chegar apenas até certo ponto
antes que se percam.
Mas se eu os segurar perto,
guarde-os para mim
(como tenho feito muitas vezes)
a mente
(que deveria ser uma catedral)
torna-se uma gaiola.

Querendo caminhar pelo labirinto com você,
Eu vacilo. Estou preparado para
consagração, purgação, iluminação, união?
Posso desacelerar minha respiração e ritmo?
Vou ouvir a voz que anseio?
Qual será a minha oração?

Existem muitas maneiras de se perder
mesmo quando há apenas um caminho a seguir.
Os olhos na pedra e passo
é atraído para a abóbada azul acima.
Querendo caminhar pelo labirinto com você,
meus pensamentos sobem para a vastidão.

(Latin)
Ambulare volenti

Tantum possit cogitare
facti sunt ante damnatorum.
Si retinerent propinquus
ea mihi
(Sum nimis saepe fit)
animi
(Quod sit ecclesia cathedrali)
fit custodia.

Quae regerent passus ambulare volenti tecum,
Non supplantabuntur gressus ejus. Ego paratus sum
Con- secrationis, deiectio, revelatio, unctio?
Slow spiritum meum, et pace possum?
Nam quamdiu sum ego audio vox?
Quid erit orationis meae?

Sunt multi modi ut amissa
ubi unica via est.
Et lapis super gradum in oculis meis
caeruleum trahitur convexa.
Quae regerent passus ambulare volenti tecum,
oriri cogitationem meam in vastitatem mergitur.



typing prompt

Current Writing Prompt

As a teacher, the poet John Ashbery gave as a prompt Rainer Maria Rilke’s poem “Archaic Torso of Apollo” in its original German for his non-German speaking students. He made it a translation exercise in which students sounded out the German words and wrote down English words resembling those sounds. They might have translated “sich hält und glänzt” as “sick halt and glance.” It would actually translate as "holds up and shines" but being correct in your translation was not the point. He didn't want students to focus on meaning and subject or try to crack the puzzle of the Rilke poem. The exercise was about sound and rhythm.

Their "translations" might have looked somewhat nonsensical but then they could try to find logic in this rough draft but maintain the original line breaks and stanzas.

We have selected for this prompt an unpublished poem that was written in English and used a translation app to put it into Portuguese and Latin. They look quite different. We avoided the more common Spanish, French, Italian versions in the hope that you might be less likely to know Latin or Portuguese and not be influenced by the words.

As with the Ashberry exercise, don't focus on being "correct." Don't cheat and run the poems through an app to put it into your native language! Choose one of the two translations. The goal is to focus on sound, meter and perhaps some similar cognates. The result will probably be a first draft that needs some logic applied to it. Revise but maintain the three stanzas and line breaks which will allow readers to see some of your path to the final poem.


Note: We also played with the idea of translation in an earlier prompt.
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Deadline for submissions: January 31, 202

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