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Thursday, September 19, 2013

The answers!


Mistranslations: cauce is channel or riverbed, not source. Shine for inundar [to flood]

Failure to observe syntactic parallelisms: se quede sin ....

Added material: blind / deprived. Introduces semantic material not in original, or only implicit.

Ennoblement / expansion: glitter and shine for brillen. Glistening for fresca.

Wrestling and writhing with noon is very effective without being overly literal.

Resisto = I can stand. Shows a good understanding of semantics of Spanish verb resistir.

Y los arcos rotos donde sufre el tiempo = and the ruined archways of suffering time.
Ok, but changes active verb to participle. Less dynamic?

But don’t show your nakedness, clean
Interrupts rhythmic flow with the comma.

Let me go on fearing dark planets.
It seems blander than the original.

Overall. Not bad. I would give it a B+ if you did something like this for my course. The most critizable aspects are ennoblement and expansion. I think an English-speaking reader would find it an effective poem in English.


A mixture of strategies. Sometimes very literal and sometimes the freest of versions. The lack of punctuation is possibly effective. Does the poem really need punctuation?

Domestication: ballad for ghazal.

Mistranslations: arcos = rainbows?

Free translation: star clusters for oscuros planetas.

River / bed. That puts the relation between agua and cauce in a way understandable for English only readers. (Compare Honig: water / source.)

Failure to observe syntactic continuity of first four lines.

And the yellows give a complete colour to silk
Here the poet has interpreted Lorca’s line, imagining that yellow dye penetrate a piece of silk, dyeing it completely. The line is awkward and strange in English. Several of you noticed the British spelling of colour, but Spicer is as American as they come.

Spicer’s understanding of the original may be faulty. His approach does not seem consistent. He avoids ennoblement and expansion. I wouldn’t assign this a grade but ask what the intent behind the translation was and ask the student to rethink some choices. (As it happens, Spicer had unique ideas about translation and wasn’t aiming for a conventinally good version.)


By conventional standards, an excellent translation. Endure for resisto is excellent. I might make some other choices, like noon for mid-day. I’m not fond of embroiled.

Failure to observe syntactic parallels in first four lines, but “to be free of” is good, direct version of “se quede sin...”

I would give an A to this translation, but would ask the student to rethink punctuation. Semi-colons are ugly!


Ghazal is actually the correct English translation of the Arabic poetic form Lorca was using, the gacela in Spanish.

Mistranslations: Let the water do without a place to settle. Water flows through a cauce; it doesn’t settle there. You can’t fuck around with a poet’s metaphors, since those are the most “translatable” parts.

bueyes = steers. Techinically this is ok, but most translators go for oxen. I resist sounds literal for resisto, but the verb in this context really means stand / endure / tolerate.

but do not teach me the ways of your cool waist.
Here the translator has apparently taken enseƱar to mean teach when it really means show. As a consequence he has introduced an expansion / rationalization: you can’t teach a waist so his solution is the ways of your waist. Yuck. Does that even make sense?

In a poem it matters who is speaking. The poet’s desire is expressed through the verb Yo quiero... The translation say “Let...” and introduces the poetic “I” later on. Why?

This was a version preferred by several students in the class. As long as you gave reasons, I didn’t take points off for preferring it, even though it is among the worst (in my opinion).

I would give this a C+ or B- for my course. Some choices are defensible: an arch is collapsed. Twilight carries some of the connotations of ocaso. The translator has done some things right, but the missteps are hard to justify. This would be a good “teachable moment,” since the translator is finding some solutions that are better than the best translation, Archer, yet falling on his face more directly too.

My ranking: Archer / Spicer / Honig / Bonta
Or possibly Archer / Honig / Spicer / Bonta
If you ranked Bonta highly you might have been responding to some of the things he does well. If you liked Honig, you probably are accepting of some degree of ennoblement. It sounds the most “poetic” in conventional terms among the four. If you liked Spicer, you probably don’t mind a mixture of strategies and some real strangeness.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hmmm so I seem to like ennoblement.

Honig, Archer, Spicer, Bonta.

Honig is interesting and not false to original.

Archer, speaks Spanish and does it as I would do it, literal, slightly imitative, slightly dull.

Spicer, inconsistent; Bonta, way off and probably does not speak Spanish, I say cruelly.