Poetry Translations

with Susan McLean

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The Knife-Grinder

This epic agony of having to grow, nightly,

A new pair of wings . . .

Where can they be, the ones insomnia set on my shoulders

At the first light of dawn!

 

Day, sharpener of golden scissors,

And steel daggers, and iron swords:

Last night I had wings

And I flew near to heaven.

But this morning

You arrived with your little pan flute, your whetstone.

Your twelve silver knives.

 

And slowly set about cutting off my wings.

Catherine Chandler is the author of The Frangible Hour and recipient of the Richard Wilbur Award. Her sixth poetry collection, Annals of the Dear Unknown, is now available from Kelsay Books and on Amazon. She is online at The Wonderful Boat (cathychandler.blogspot.com).

El afilador

Este dolor heroico de hacerse para cada noche

Un nuevo par de alas . . .

Dónde estarán las que ayer puso sobre mis hombros

El insomnio de la primera hora del alba!

 

Día, afilador de tijeras de oro,

Y puñales de acero, y espaldas de hierro;

Anoche yo tenía alas

Y estuve cerca del cielo.

Pero esta mañana

Llegaste tú con tu flauta, tu piedra.

Tus doce cuchillos de plata.

 

Y lentamente me fuiste cortando las alas.

Uruguayan poet Juana de Ibarbourou (1892–1979), internationally acclaimed as “Juana de América,” is considered a prominent cultural icon of Latin America. Her poems reflect one of the most personal voices of early 20th century Spanish-American poetry.

A Day in a Bank

My heart ached a little

while ticking the very first

of all the income group boxes

in the bank form.

 

To sympathize with me

the bank worker tells me that

she belongs to the same income group.

 

We both decide to

urge President Tsai

to raise our salary

and to push us into the next bracket.

 

We high five from a distance

and laugh.

 

The bank worker

must have seen a wide range of account holders,

including those who make absolutely little on a salary,

as well as those who are among the wealthiest.

 

She tells me

the rich are never at ease

while filling their forms.

Shivam Tomar is a bilingual (Hindi and English) poet from Gwalior, India. His poems have been featured in various Hindi literary journals. He is also the editor and curator of the bilingual literary platform Poems India.

ताइवानी बैंक में एक दिन

हल्का-सा जी दुखा

टिक मारते हुए

बैंक के फॉर्म में आय के तीन विकल्पों में से

सबसे कम सालाना कमाई वाले विकल्प पर

 

मुझे ढांढ़स बंधाने को

बैंक कर्मचारी कहती है

वह भी उसी आय वर्ग में ठहरती है

 

हम दोनों तय करते हैं

राष्ट्रपति त्साई से कहेंगे

हमारी तनख्वाह बढ़ाएं

फॉर्म के अगले कोष्ठक में पहुंचाएं 

 

हवाई हाय-फ़ाइव दे, हम हंसते हैं

 

बैंक कर्मचारी ने देखे हैं

हमारी आय वर्ग में सबसे कम कमाने वाले लोग

और, उच्चतम आय वर्ग में शामिल व्यक्ति भी

वह बताती है—

रईस लोग

बड़े गंभीर होते हैं

फॉर्म में टिक मारते समय।

~ देवेश पथ सारिया

Devesh Path Sariya is a Hindi poet and prose writer. His first poetry collection Nooh ki Nav (2021) was published by the prestigious Sahitya Akademi. A collection of his memoirs about his experiences in Taiwan will soon be published.

Injustice

I was ten at the time.

Some money was pilfered

From my mother’s lockbox.

It was a Sunday . . . I remember it well!

 

Wrongly, I was pronounced guilty,

And the humiliating

Reprimand I was dealt

Cut me right down to the quick.

 

I remember how, that night,

Lying flat on my bed,

A tiny seed of anarchy put down

The first of its roots in my brain.

Brittany Hause is not from the UK, but that’s where they currently live. Their original poetry has appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, Kaleidotrope, and many other places, and their Spanish-to-English verse translations can be read in The Common Tongue, Star*Line, and elsewhere.

Injusticia

Tenía entonces diez años.

Robaron algún dinero

De las arcas de mi madre.

Fue un domingo . . . ¡Lo recuerdo!

 

Se me señaló culpable

Injustamente, y el reto

Que hicieron a mi vergüenza

Se me clavó aquí, ¡muy dentro!

 

Recuerdo que aquella noche

Tendida sobre mi lecho

Llegó un germen de anarquía

A iniciarse en mi cerebro.

By the time she ended her life at the age of 46, Swiss-Argentine poet Alfonsina Storni (1892-1938) was widely recognized in South American literary circles for her intensely personal writings, outspoken feminism, and innovation across a variety of verse forms.

The Wagon of Life

Though often weighted down and sagging,

the wagon under way is light.

Gray Time, our driver, never flagging,

won’t leave the box by day or night.

 

We board the wagon in the morning.

We’ll risk our necks — are eager to.

All idleness and comfort scorning,

we cry, “Get fucking going, you!”

 

At noon we don’t feel so courageous.

We’re shaken by each bump and jolt.

The steep ravines and hills dismay us,

and now we cry, “Ease up, you dolt!”

 

By evening, heavy heads are nodding.

Accustomed to the ride, we yawn

as, headed for our night-time lodging,

in haste Time whips the horses on.

As a student at the University of Michigan, Carleton Copeland spent three semesters in Leningrad, where he roamed the crumbling imperial capital, muttering verb conjugations. The charm has never worn off. Today he works as a translator for EY in St. Petersburg.

Телега жизни

Хоть тяжело подчас в ней бремя,

Телега на ходу легка;

Ямщик лихой, седое время,

Везет, не слезет с облучка.

 

С утра садимся мы в телегу;

Мы рады голову сломать

И, презирая лень и негу,

Кричим: пошёл, ебёна мать!

 

Но в полдень нет уж той отваги;

Порастрясло нас; нам страшней

И косогоры и овраги;

Кричим: полегче, дуралей!

 

Катит по-прежнему телега;

Под вечер мы привыкли к ней

И, дремля, едем до ночлега —

А время гонит лошадей.

Born into a noble Russian family in 1799, great-grandson of a black African captive, Alexander Pushkin (1799-1837) was and is, in the words of another poet, Russia’s “first love.” By the time he was mortally wounded in a duel at the age of 37, he had laid the foundations of modern Russian literature.

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