Monday, January 18, 2010

Transliteration of “Metrical Charm 8: For a Swarm of Bees”

Without your nimble words, afterward you’ll stand in increasing pain,
the pain in your hands spreading down to your feet, and fast:
For it’s afoot,          it waits to hit.
Hard, malignant              without glancing back.

and without ending      and without calculation
and without a motivation          men can understand.
And so putting forward great effort, you must greet the swarm and say:
Sit down, enough,          listen to my words!
Control your wildness      to come to resolution.

See we have history          shared gods,
we are born of the same magic      mates and friends.

This is a transliteration of a poem originally written in old English. In transliteration, the poet tries to "translate" a poem from a language she doesn't know, just by guessing what the words might mean based on how they sound (or on any knowledge of word structure she might have).

Here is the original version of Metrical Charm 8: For a Swarm of Bees (and here is an actual translation):

Wið ymbe nim eorþan, oferweorp mid þinre swiþran
handa under þinum swiþran fet, and cwet:
Fo ic under fot,        funde ic hit.
Hwæt, eorðe mæg          wið ealra wihta gehwilce

and wið andan        and wið æminde
and wið þa micelan        mannes tungan.
And wiððon forweorp ofer greot, þonne hi swirman, and cweð:
Sitte ge, sigewif,        sigað to eorþan!
Næfre ge wilde        to wuda fleogan.

Beo ge swa gemindige        mines godes,
swa bið manna gehwilc        metes and eþeles.

This poem was written in response to Poetry Prompt #110 on Read Write Poem.

Photo by Victor L. Lee

        Doing this prompt reminded me of my mom, who always confuses song lyrics. She used to sing Macy Gray's line "My world crumbles when you are not near" as "I blow bubbles when you are not near." What lyrics have you heard other people accidentally butcher?


Dorkmaster Flek said...

I've misheard a few myself and found out the correct ones later on, but I have to admit, nobody butchers lyrics quite like your mom. :)

Derrick said...

You have made a magical charm indeed from these words. How different to the real translation. Yours has more poetry. I like it very much.

Anonymous said...

Excellent! The ending is especially powerful. :)

Anonymous said...

You're right about the humor comparing perception and actuality: mine turned out to be (a touch) about cannibalism. I love your schoolmarmish greeting to the bees, and the recognition that we're all (mates and friends) part of the whole.

Anonymous said...

From Therese Broderick -- I am very impressed by the great care you took to honor the original poem's placement of punctuation (colons, commas, exclamation mark, period), as well as the first letter of each line (lower case or upper case), as well as the spaces (caesuras?) between halves of the lines. A very close, faithful reading of the original, to be sure.

Tumblewords: said...

A fine read. The final five lines are powerfully written in view of all we know, and not, about a swarm of bees. Wonderfully fine.

Raven's Wing Poetry said...

I like this. I think I like your transliteration better than the original. And the last lines ("We are born of the same magic/mates and friends") are especially lovely. Good work.


Nathan said...

What great source material! I love the way you work with the layout of the poem. Great work!

Wayne Pitchko said...

I really like what you did with this....I really like YOURS better...and nice ending too...thanks for this