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  #1  
Unread 05-22-2022, 04:11 PM
Kevin Rainbow's Avatar
Kevin Rainbow Kevin Rainbow is offline
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Default "The Birth of Love" - G. Derzhavin

.


Spring, begirt with flowers fair,
From the heavens comes to us
In her youthful charms to share
Smiles of tender cheerfulness.
When she smiled, at once there sprang
Roses, lilies into light;
Leaves with sparkling honey hang,
Fragrance wafts in lively flight,
Echo's laughter, sounding clear,
Through the groves rings out with mirth;
Joy and bliss have settled here:
Love to us been given birth!



Edits to the wording:
"Down from heaven comes to us" > "From the heavens comes to us"
"She has smiled, and there were sprung" > "When she smiled, at once there sprang"
"On leaves sparkling honey hung" > "Leaves with sparkling honey hang"
"Flung" > "wafts"
"Rang" > "rings"


Рождение Любви

Опоясанна цветами
Сходит к нам с небес Весна,
И младыми красотами
Улыбается она.
Улыбнулась — и явились
Розы и лилеи в свет,
Благовонья оживились,
Возблистал на листьях мед,
И по рощам разгласилось
Хохотаньем эхо вновь;
Радость, счастье водворилось:
Нам родилася Любовь!


The Birth of Love

Encircled/begirt with flowers
Spring comes down to us from the heavens,
And with young beauties
She smiles.
She smiled - and roses
and lilies appeared in the light,
Fragrances livened up
Honey was sparkling on leaves,
And Echo again with laughter
Is revealed/voiced out through the groves;
Gladness, happiness settled here:
Love was born to us.

.

Last edited by Kevin Rainbow; 05-23-2022 at 01:35 PM.
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  #2  
Unread 05-22-2022, 04:35 PM
Carl Copeland Carl Copeland is offline
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Kevin, this is a most pleasant surprise. The original is lighter and fresher than I expected from Derzhavin; his influence on Pushkin becomes clearer to me. It’s too late for me to say anything coherent about the translation, but I promise to give it my most tender attention tomorrow.

До завтра, Carl
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  #3  
Unread 05-22-2022, 10:03 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi Kevin,

I get the feeling this is pretty close to your Russian original. It reads C18th in English, and I take it the original dates from about then. You do have a philosophical question: do you modernize or not? At the moment, I take it no.
Given those parameters, I think this is quite pleasant.

Cheers,
John
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Unread 05-23-2022, 04:59 AM
Carl Copeland Carl Copeland is offline
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Kevin, I’ll say again how pleased I was to find Derzhavin here. It’s a delightful translation of a delightful poem. Your choice of words seems just right, and what you added for the meter and rhyme is a good fit. You didn’t attempt the alternation of masculine and feminine rhymes—a nice embellishment, especially in poems with short lines—but in English it can be near impossible to pull off. There were a few things I thought could be polished, and this is a slapdash version just to give you an idea. Take what you like.

Spring, begirt with flowers fair,
From the heavens comes to us
With her youthful charms to share
Smiles of tender cheerfulness.
When she smiled, at once there sprang
Roses, lilies to the light,
Leaves with sparkling honey hang,
Fragrance wafts in lively flight,
Echo’s laughter, sounding clear,
Through the groves rings out with mirth;
Joy and bliss have settled here:
Love has now been given birth!

A few explanations:

L1 I put commas around “begirt with flowers,” just so “begirt” can’t be read initially as an active verb.

L5 The present perfect “has smiled” doesn’t line up with the following sequence of simple past verbs. “There were sprung” is passive, isn’t it? The roses haven’t been sprung (unless they were in prison!). My hasty fix forced me to shift into the present in lines 7, 8 and 10, so I may have patched one hole, only to spring leaks elsewhere. Your call.

L8 I suggest a finite verb instead of the past participle “flung” to match the neighboring verbs: hung, rang (or hang, rings).

L12 Here I really think you need “has” to make the last line sweet. I fit it in by dropping “to us,” but you may have a better solution.

Sorry for all this meddling. I love what you’re doing and hope I’ve at least given you something to think about.

Carl

Last edited by Carl Copeland; 05-23-2022 at 07:28 AM.
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Unread 05-23-2022, 05:19 AM
W T Clark W T Clark is online now
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This is a pretty dull and clichéd poem even for Derzhavin.
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Unread 05-23-2022, 07:15 AM
Carl Copeland Carl Copeland is offline
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Cameron (that’s right, isn’t it?), it’s a slight piece, written to celebrate the birth of a daughter to Alexander I in 1799. It reads beautifully in the Russian—alliterative, assonant and very light, I think, for official poetry of the time, though I’m not well versed in Derzhavin. It also employs remarkably few words—often three and even two to the line. Nabokov has a rather odd theory that the fewer words per line, the better in Russian poetry.

Carl

Last edited by Carl Copeland; 05-23-2022 at 01:54 PM.
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Unread 05-23-2022, 10:03 AM
W T Clark W T Clark is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carl Copeland View Post
Cameron (that’s right, isn’t it?), it’s a sleight piece, written to celebrate the birth of a daughter to Alexander I in 1799. It reads beautifully in the Russian—alliterative, assonant and very light, I think, for official poetry of the time, though I’m not well versed in Derzhavin. It also employs remarkably few words—often three and even two to the line. Nabokov has a rather odd theory that the fewer words per line, the better in Russian poetry.

Carl
Then I'd comment that Derzhavin's sounds much more interesting than this trite English version. Kevin's translation reads like Cowper on a bad day. The metaphors are bland to the point of being boring, and the archaism of "begirt" is horrible sonically and artificially. There's no lightness here; it falls under its own weight of bloated poeticisms.
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Unread 05-23-2022, 10:18 AM
Roger Slater Roger Slater is offline
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If it's such a slight poem, written for a limited occasion almost 300 years ago, I wonder why anyone would want to translate it in the first place. But assuming that it has enough going for it to warrant the honor of translation, I agree with Cameron completely. It reads like crap. I doubt I've ever heard anyone use the word "begirt" at any time, in any context, and if the translation aims to be a pleasant and easily digestible poem in English, inversions like "flowers fair" to pull off a rhyme are not helping. And I'm not even sure how to grammatically parse "honey hang," though I suspect it's another of the translation's several clumsy inversions. In short, the poem in English is abysmal, and that is either the fault of a bad translation (if the poem in Russian is as good as Carl assures us) or a bad poem which the translator has chosen to translate to show us how bad the original is.

BTW, Kevin, in searching for an alternative translation I came across this. You have apparently published your translation before, and I see that you edited it on another site only yesterday.

Last edited by Roger Slater; 05-23-2022 at 11:01 AM.
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Unread 05-23-2022, 11:19 AM
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Rose Novick Rose Novick is offline
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The crib is superior to the translation proper.
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Unread 05-23-2022, 12:14 PM
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Kevin Rainbow Kevin Rainbow is offline
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Hi Сarl,

I am glad you like this little piece as well.

It is a pleasure to hear from someone who not only speaks the language but lives it, and in such a beautiful city!

I appreciate your adjustments and will probably incorporate most of them. The past tense forms somewhat feel like they should be in the present tense and trying to maintain past tense forms anyway resulted in some oddities that your suggestions help reduce.

Your kind of constructive help to improve this is exactly what I was hoping for .

Благодарю Вас.



John,

Thanks for coming by; it is pleasing to hear it left a positive impression.

Quote:
do you modernize or not?
I'm not sure it is even a "question" for most people, even though maybe it should be. Automatic, blind, knee-jerk reactions for or against something (e.g."archaic" words) are usually not a good thing.

But I don't really see anything in this that deviates much from poetry in the modern Era of the English language. There are myriad examples of the word "begirt" in poetry and songs, and myriad examples of inversions like "flowers fair" in rhyme position, especially in short, light pieces.

.

Last edited by Kevin Rainbow; 05-23-2022 at 01:06 PM.
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