發文作者:c.w. | 四月 23, 2005

april

Book front cover

Title:
Selected Poems (Penguin Twentieth Century Classics S.)
Author:
Joseph Millman Brodsky, Edwin Arlington Robinson, Robert Faggen
ISBN:
0140189882
Rating:
Not rated

April, Eliot’s cruelest month, and many other’s as well. Time for poetry. Here’s something from Joseph Brodsky.

Verses in April

Once again this past winter
I did not go mad. As for winter itself-
one glances;its gone. But I can divide
the din of ice cracking from the green
shroud of earth. So I’m sane.
I wish myself well
at the coming of spring;
blinded by the Fontanka,
I break myself up into dozens of parts.
I run my flat hand
up and over my face. The snow-crust is settling
in my brain, as it does in the woods.

Having lived to the time of gray hairs,
I observe how a tug threads its way,
among ice floes, toward open sea

For me
to give you in writing would be
just as harsh and unfair
as to charge you with wrong.

Please excuse me
for this lofty style;
though there’s no end to our discontent,
there’s an end to our winters.
For the essesnce of change lies in this-
in the wrangling of Muses who swarm
at Mnumosyne’s banquet.


Responses

  1. that gives a brand new meaning to “lost in translation". that is a pretty poor one. translating brodski is an impossible thing to do, but i’m going to try a stab at the original “Стихи в апреле" found at link:

    didn’t go insane I
    this winter, but it’s — poof
    and was over. i can still tell apart
    the icebreaker from
    grass — means i’m healthy and sober.
    congratulating myself
    on the change in the seasons,
    staring blind at canal for no reason,
    i’m dividing myself by a hundred.
    Wipe the face
    with my palm — and inside snow crust melts,
    like it does in the forest.

    after barely making to the grey hairs,
    i’m watching the tug
    scold its way through the ice
    to the mouth of the river. turning paper
    into scape goat for offences is not worse
    than remembering evil. ‘scuse my
    elevated style, times of troubles don’t end,
    and so neither do winters.
    that’s the essence of change,
    in the throng, in the Muses’ bickering at the Mnemosyne’s feast.

    – april 1969.

    2 cents: the key with brodsky is rhythm and rhyme, especially in poems where the lines rhyme only ocassionally, since that’s what keeps the rhythm connected and flowing. this can even be done at the expense of the accuracy —as long as the original meaning and sense is preserved. there is a subtle elegiac connection between the flow of words and the meaning that is an absolute necessity to preserve in translation.

    COMMENT:

    It looks like a complete different poem. Must be interesting to hear it in Russian.

    The translator’s note of this version is really an explanation of Brodsky’s different rhyming systems: slant and compound slant rhymes. Unfortunatelly it’s imcomprehensible to his numerous English readers including W.H. Auden, who writes the introduction for this book. Mr. G. Kline lamented that he wish he “could have done as much in putting Brodsky in English" (25) as Brodsky’s tour de force in rhyming. But, guess he did he best at that time. Maybe should go get another version and check the difference.

    COMMENT:

    i’m sure brodksy wouldn’t be able to do as much to over-analyzing his poetry as these guys did🙂
    brodsky didn’t create any tour de force in rhyming. rhyming is a russian poetic tradition which is inseparable from poetry for any russian poet. even in so called gorky’s white verses there is so much rhythm that it feels like the lines are rhymed. brodsky genius is that he is the first (and one of the very few) post-war poet who was able to create the poetic beauty and wit to rival the classics of pushkin and the silver age poetry of akhmatova, pasternak and others, while using common everyday russian language and modern imagery and living in the 60-ieth through our times.

    but i’m glad you are enjoying him. he is one of my very favourites.

    one correction to my tranlation above — it’s not icebreaker — but ice breaking.

    COMMENT:

    “brodsky didn’t create any tour de force in rhyming. rhyming is a russian poetic tradition which is inseparable from poetry for any russian poet." —-it’s the difference between native and non-native speakers. We emphasize something people’ve already taken for granted for years.

    Glad for your Russian literature 101. Now try something else.

    All non-native Chinese speaker should try Yang Mu. I made one of my American friends reciting them as part of my performance works in a theatre sound class. Everyone enjoyed it. He’s still alive, didn’t have a miserable past, teaches at universities in the states and Taiwan. Best for a long summer afternoon.

    COMMENT:

    $40!!!
    will check out strand this weekend🙂


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