And was the holy Lamb of God,
On Englands pleasant pastures seen!
- And did those feet, William Blake

onsdag 29. mai 2013

Translating Yeats


May 29th is the anniversary of the Fall of Constantinople in 1453, a momentous watershed in late medieval history. The Byzantine Empire had long been gradually receding against the expansion of Ottoman Turks, and in 1453 the final deah-blow was delivered with the capturing of the capital and death of the last emperor, Constantine XI Palaiologos. The history of the Byzantine Empire is a fascinating series of events, often treated by Western Europeans as marginal to the events of Catholic Christendom and consequently less known outside medievalist circles than, say, the history of England or the Papacy. However, the Byzantine Empire was its own centre and a looming entity in the history of the Near East.

There has always been a fascination with Byzantium in the Western mind, treated often as something alien, wildly different. One man who was very intrigued by the strangeness and mystery of the Byzantine Empire was William Butler Yeats, whose two poems on Byzantium evokes the sort of romantic mystification that has clouded more than explained the nature of the Empire and its history. These are both beautiful poems, and for this occasion I will present my favourite of the two - Sailing to Byzantium - together with my own translation into Norwegian. The translation will be followed by a literal rendition so as to show just in what ways I have twisted the original text in order to maintain the meaning, and what compromises the translation has required.

The City of Constantinople as described by John Mandeville,
From MS. Harley 3954, 15thC (East Anglia)
Courtesy of British Library

Sailing to Byzantium

That is no country for old men. The young
In one another’s arms, birds in the trees
– Those dying generations – at their song,
The salmon‐falls, the mackerel‐crowded seas,
Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long
Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unageing intellect.

An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress,
Nor is there singing school but studying
Monuments of its own magnificence;
And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzantium.

O sages standing in God’s holy fire
As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
And be the singing‐masters of my soul.
Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into the artifice of eternity.

Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enamelling
To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
Or set upon a golden bough to sing
To lords and ladies of Byzantium
Of what is past, or passing, or to come.
That is no country for old men. The young In one another's arms, birds in the trees —Those dying generations—at their song, The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas, Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long Whatever is begotten, born, and dies. Caught in that sensual music all neglect Monuments of unageing intellect. An aged man is but a paltry thing, A tattered coat upon a stick, unless Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing For every tatter in its mortal dress, Nor is there singing school but studying Monuments of its own magnificence; And therefore I have sailed the seas and come To the holy city of Byzantium. O sages standing in God's holy fire As in the gold mosaic of a wall, Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre, And be the singing-masters of my soul. Consume my heart away; sick with desire And fastened to a dying animal It knows not what it is; and gather me Into the artifice of eternity. Once out of nature I shall never take My bodily form from any natural thing, But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make Of hammered gold and gold enamelling To keep a drowsy Emperor awake; Or set upon a golden bough to sing To lords and ladies of Byzantium Of what is past, or passing, or to come. - See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/20310#sthash.OAEavJht.dpuf
That is no country for old men. The young In one another's arms, birds in the trees —Those dying generations—at their song, The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas, Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long Whatever is begotten, born, and dies. Caught in that sensual music all neglect Monuments of unageing intellect. An aged man is but a paltry thing, A tattered coat upon a stick, unless Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing For every tatter in its mortal dress, Nor is there singing school but studying Monuments of its own magnificence; And therefore I have sailed the seas and come To the holy city of Byzantium. O sages standing in God's holy fire As in the gold mosaic of a wall, Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre, And be the singing-masters of my soul. Consume my heart away; sick with desire And fastened to a dying animal It knows not what it is; and gather me Into the artifice of eternity. Once out of nature I shall never take My bodily form from any natural thing, But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make Of hammered gold and gold enamelling To keep a drowsy Emperor awake; Or set upon a golden bough to sing To lords and ladies of Byzantium Of what is past, or passing, or to come. - See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/20310#sthash.OAEavJht.dpuf
That is no country for old men. The young In one another's arms, birds in the trees —Those dying generations—at their song, The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas, Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long Whatever is begotten, born, and dies. Caught in that sensual music all neglect Monuments of unageing intellect. An aged man is but a paltry thing, A tattered coat upon a stick, unless Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing For every tatter in its mortal dress, Nor is there singing school but studying Monuments of its own magnificence; And therefore I have sailed the seas and come To the holy city of Byzantium. O sages standing in God's holy fire As in the gold mosaic of a wall, Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre, And be the singing-masters of my soul. Consume my heart away; sick with desire And fastened to a dying animal It knows not what it is; and gather me Into the artifice of eternity. Once out of nature I shall never take My bodily form from any natural thing, But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make Of hammered gold and gold enamelling To keep a drowsy Emperor awake; Or set upon a golden bough to sing To lords and ladies of Byzantium Of what is past, or passing, or to come. - See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/20310#sthash.OAEavJht.dpuf
That is no country for old men. The young In one another's arms, birds in the trees —Those dying generations—at their song, The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas, Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long Whatever is begotten, born, and dies. Caught in that sensual music all neglect Monuments of unageing intellect. An aged man is but a paltry thing, A tattered coat upon a stick, unless Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing For every tatter in its mortal dress, Nor is there singing school but studying Monuments of its own magnificence; And therefore I have sailed the seas and come To the holy city of Byzantium. O sages standing in God's holy fire As in the gold mosaic of a wall, Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre, And be the singing-masters of my soul. Consume my heart away; sick with desire And fastened to a dying animal It knows not what it is; and gather me Into the artifice of eternity. Once out of nature I shall never take My bodily form from any natural thing, But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make Of hammered gold and gold enamelling To keep a drowsy Emperor awake; Or set upon a golden bough to sing To lords and ladies of Byzantium Of what is past, or passing, or to come. - See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/20310#sthash.OAEavJht.dpuf

Philosophers in Macedonia and tournaments in Constantinople,
From MS. Harley 3954, 15thC (East Anglia)
Courtesy of British Library

Å segle til Bysants

Dét er ikkje eit land for gamle menn. Dei
unge, arm i arm, fuglane i tre
– forgjengelege ættledd – i deira lei,
til song, kvar sølvsprengd sjø, kvart elvekre,
fugl, fisk og fe i ei stor sommar-rei
gjev pris til fødd, til skapt og døyande.
Av desse tonar fanga, kvar ei slekt
vil gløyme alt om tidlaust intellekt.

Ein kall er helst ein ubetydeleg ting,
ein rivna frakk oppå ein staur, so sant
då ikkje sjela klappar høgt og syng
for kvar ei kjøtleg rift i baug og spant.
Dei lærer ikkje song, men ser ikring
sin stordoms reisverk bygd på kvar ein kant;
og derfor seglar eg og søkjer glans
I keisaren sin helga by: Bysants.

De prestar som står i Guds helga loge
som mosaikken i ein gullgjord mur,
kom frå den helga logen, piler frå bogen,
og lær mi sjel å meistre moll og dur.
Kom et mitt hjarta opp; sjukleg av hugen
og bunde til eit døyand' kreatur
Det veit'kje kva det er; lat meg ta del
I den store æva sitt narrespel.

Når naturen slepp meg vil eg ikkje ta
min kropp frå noko som naturen hev,
men frå emalje, gull so tynt som blad,
ja slikt dei greske gullsmedane gjev
ein keisar som vil ut av svevnen dra;
ell' som vert sett på gullkvist og der kved
til vyrde menn og kvinner i Bysants
om kva som kjem, som er og eingong fanst.

Psellos and his pupil the Emperor, Byzantine mosaic c.800
Courtesy of Wikimedia

To Sail to Byzantium

That is not a country for old men. The
Young, arm in arm, the birds in trees,
- Those transient generations - in their direction
To song each silver-laden sea, each river-trout,
Fowl, fish and livestock in one big summer-throng
Give praises to the born, the created and the dying.
By these tones made captive, each family
Will forget all about timeless intellect.

And old man is rather an unimportant thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
The soul don't loudly clap and sing
For each a fleshly wound in prow and frame.
They do not learn song, but see around
The structures of their greatness on every side
And therefore I sail to seek splendour
In the emperor's hallowed city: Byzantium.

You priests who stand in God's hallowed fire,
As the mosaic of a golden wall,
Come from the hallowed fire, arrows from the bow,
And teach my soul to master majors and minors.
Come eat up my heart; sickened by the will
And fastened to a dying creature
It knows not what it is; and let me take part
In the great deception of eternity.

When nature releases me I will not take
My body from anything that nature has,
But from enamel, gold as thin as leaves,
Yes such the Grecian goldsmiths will give
An emperor who wants to depart from sleep;
Or which is set upon a golden bough and there chants
To high-born men and women of Byzantium
Of what will come, what is and what once was.

Byzantine mosaic allegedly depicting the soul in the body and outside the body
Courtesy of Wikimedia



4 kommentarer:

  1. Framifrå omsetjing, Hope! Du etterspurte merknader, og eg har berre éin, og det er ein 'trykkleif' og ingen korreksjonsmerknad: "Ddet" i nestsiste line i nestsiste strofe.

    SvarSlett
  2. Hjarteleg takk! Det set eg stor pris på. Om du etter kvart kjem på alternative løysingar som kan fungere betre enn dette, so er det berre å gje beskjed.

    Den trykkleifen er forferdeleg irriterande, og om blogspot.no let meg redigere utan å omkalfatre heile innlegget skal eg ordne opp i den.

    SvarSlett
  3. Dette blei visst ei veldig treig tilbakemelding, men det har verkeleg ikkje noko med kvaliteten på omsetjinga å gjere. Dette er eit solid stykke handverk med mange flotte og kreative løysingar. Takk for ei god leseoppleving!

    SvarSlett
    Svar
    1. Det gler meg storleg å lese. Takk for positiv tilbakemelding, det tek eg til meg når det kjem frå slikt språkkunnig publikum.

      Slett