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Aestrith
Aestrith
Posts: 8

10/3/2018
Not long ago I translated a poem from Russian into English. The problem is that I am not a native English speaker, so I am sure I made some mistakes, so it would be nice if any one checks it and points at my mistakes. The poem is pretty Neathy, so I believe some of you will be glad to read it. So here it goes:

A Cabin Boy And A Captain

A cabin boy wondered once: “Tell me, captain, why cannot we see any shores?
Why aren't there albatrosses that usually cry above waters? What is our set course?
Why don't our cannons fire? Why is not the old cook making meals for the crew?
Where are we sailing to? When will we come back home? Why aren't there any orders from you?”

And the captain replied: “We can't see any shore, for it's too far away
Albatrosses don't live here. We turned to south-east. The old cook feels some ache.
There's no counterpart, that's why the cannons are silent. We don't need to fire at a foe.
We will come to West-India, there we will ship cargo and then we'll come back to our home.”

“Captain, winds never blow here at all” – “It's a calm sea” – the captain replied
“I can see neither stars nor the Sun in the sky.” – “Because fog is quite heavy tonight.”
“Captain, a sudden feeling occurs to me that we won't see any land anymore.
Maybe we are sewed up? Captain, we are not going at all. What are we waiting for?”

And the captain replied to the boy: “We can't see any land, for we are on a land.
For we are on a land, and there's water above us. We're dead men who on a deck stand.
For the ship and the whole crew went down long ago, for we have fallen on the see-bed
For ten thousand nights passed, and we keep speaking of the same things, and the same words are said.”

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Arcengal
Arcengal
Posts: 89

10/3/2018
The only thing I'd ask about is the "sewed up" statement in the third verse/stanza. "Stitched up" (meaning, in a bad or unfortunate position due to outside causes or influences) might be the meaning you're looking for.

I admire your translation's ability to stay close to a consistent rhyme and metre. smile

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incerteza
incerteza
Posts: 101

10/3/2018
I'm not a native English speaker, too, so I cannot really help with the translation. But to add to the Arcengal's praise, both the translation and the metre are really close to the Russian version, amazing!

I'd propose "Maybe we've run aground?" instead of "Maybe we are sewed up?"


If anyone wonders, here's the original:[spoiler]
Спрашивал юнга: «Скажи, капитан, отчего мы не видим земли?
Почему над водой не кричит альбатрос? На какой нынче курс мы легли?
Почему старый кок не готовит еды? Почему наши пушки молчат?
Почему нет приказов? Куда мы плывём и когда мы вернёмся назад?»

Отвечал капитан: «Мы не видим земли оттого, что наш берег далёк.
Старый кок приболел. Альбатросов здесь нет. Мы свернули на юго-восток.
Неприятеля нет, вот и пушки молчат. Нам не нужно стрелять по врагам.
Мы дойдем до Вест-Индии, сгрузим товар и вернёмся к своим берегам».

«Капитан, здесь совсем не бывает ветров», — «Это штиль», — отвечал капитан.
«Я не вижу на небе ни солнца, ни звёзд», — «Нынче выдался плотный туман».
«У меня появляется чувство, что мы никогда не увидим земли.
Капитан, мы уже никуда не плывём. Может быть, мы стоим на мели?»

Отвечал капитан: «Мы не видим земли оттого, что уже на земле.
Мы уже на земле, а над нами — вода. Мы — покойники на корабле.
Оттого, что мы все утонули давно, оттого, что мы встретились с дном.
Оттого, что уже десять тысяч ночей мы с тобой говорим об одном».[/spoiler]
edited by incerteza on 10/3/2018
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Aestrith
Aestrith
Posts: 8

10/3/2018
Arcengal wrote:
The only thing I'd ask about is the "sewed up" statement in the third verse/stanza. "Stitched up" (meaning, in a bad or unfortunate position due to outside causes or influences) might be the meaning you're looking for.

I admire your translation's ability to stay close to a consistent rhyme and metre. smile




"to be sewed up" is what a dictionary gave me. other options were "to sew", "to be aground" and "to lie aground", if it makes more sence
edited by Aestrith on 10/3/2018

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Aestrith
Aestrith
Posts: 8

10/3/2018
incerteza wrote:
I'm not a native English speaker, too, so I cannot really help with the translation. But to add to the Arcengal's praise, both the translation and the metre are really close to the Russian version, amazing!

I'd propose "Maybe we've run aground?" instead of "Maybe we are sewed up?"
edited by incerteza on 10/3/2018



Wow, you found the original poem! what a surprise!

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Vexpont
Vexpont
Posts: 137

28 days ago
Aestrith wrote:
incerteza wrote:
I'm not a native English speaker, too, so I cannot really help with the translation. But to add to the Arcengal's praise, both the translation and the metre are really close to the Russian version, amazing!

I'd propose "Maybe we've run aground?" instead of "Maybe we are sewed up?"
edited by incerteza on 10/3/2018


Wow, you found the original poem! what a surprise!


On the upside, I am a native English speaker.
On the downside, my Russian is nonexistent, though I dearly love Russian in translation ever since reading 'The Stone Guest'.

This poem is great stuff. Let's do it and be damned. Please forgive my horrid transgressions against Russian.

IMO, when it comes to poetry translation, it's not a question of 'mistakes'. Poetry is innately tricky to translate. To be free in terms of metre and vocabulary is better than to attempt to be fully literal. Poetry is too compressed; you can't be fully literal. For example, I've blatantly warped the literal translation of 'to run aground' (something that unsurprisingly, Russian and English sailors both fear in very accurate terms) in the cause of scansion.

So, here is my horribly loose English translation, in a metre which doesn't match the original (I am using your rhyme scheme), but I think is suited to the subject.

My Captain,” said the cabin-boy, “why can we glimpse no shores?
There’s not even one albatross to mourn our unknown course.
The cook won’t cook, the guns won’t fire, and yet you don’t say why.
Where are we bound? And when return? Why do you not reply?”

The Captain said: “Your cook is sick. There is no bird who braves
the sea round here (we bear South-East), with all its shoreless waves
and blind horizons. There’s no foe; therefore we never shoot.
We’ll reach the Indies, ship the goods, and sail home with our loot.”

But Captain, there’s no wind at all...” “A calm. No need for fright.”
...no stars, no moon, no sun, no sky!” “The fog is dense tonight.”
O Captain, my poor soul befears we’ll never see dry land –
we make no way, we are stuck fast, like voyagers mired in sand.”

The Captain said: “We see no land, since we are fathoms deep,
We are the drowned who live below, the drowned who cannot sleep,
Years since we sank into the silt, this ship and all her crew –
Ten thousand times you’ve questioned me, and I have answered you.”

--
Dangerous to my enemies; loyal to my friends. Not too handy at telling the difference.

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Jolanda Swan
Jolanda Swan
Posts: 925

27 days ago
This is lovely. It made me shiver. Who is the poet, if I may ask?

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Lover of all things beautiful, secret admirer of ugly truths, fond of the Parabola Sun... and always delighted to role play.
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Aberrant Eremite
Aberrant Eremite
Posts: 350

27 days ago
That's a great poem, and certainly appropriate around these parts. I'm afraid that I don't have any Russian myself. Aestrith's translation makes sense but doesn't sound like idiomatic English. I started to list some suggestions, realized there would be many small changes, thought about rewriting the whole thing ... but I'm not sure I could improve on what Vexpont wrote. And that's something I rarely say.

("Stuck fast" would be the replacement for "sewed up," I think.)

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Hieronymus Drake: Gentleman scholar, big-game hunter, scar-faced aristocrat. Remarkably sane, all things considered.
Tanith Wyrmwood: Longshanks cat-burglar; Bohemian author; now, perhaps, something more. Bubbly, expressive, and affectionate. It’s not only still waters that run deep.
Telemachia Lee: Gentle lady by birth, brawling Docker by choice. Good company in the drunk tank.
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Aestrith
Aestrith
Posts: 8

10 days ago
Aberrant Eremite wrote:
I started to list some suggestions, realized there would be many small changes, thought about rewriting the whole thing ... but I'm not sure I could improve on what Vexpont wrote. And that's something I rarely say.



Oh, feel free to list all the suggestions! Vexpont did good work, but it went too far away from the original text, so it is more like a remake than a translation

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Aestrith
Aestrith
Posts: 8

10 days ago
Jolanda Swan wrote:
This is lovely. It made me shiver. Who is the poet, if I may ask?

It is a poem by Alexander Pelevin (Александр Пелевин). But im not sure there are other translations of his works.
By the way, there is another writer with the same surname - Victor Pelevin - he is not the one. Dont get confused

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