Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Good poem, good translation

S. Vaidheeswaran is one of the leading modern tamil poets. Not many outside the small circle of Tamil literary world know him. This is one of his short poems.

எறும்பு
கடிக்காத போது
ஏன் கொன்றாய்?

உலகத்தில்
நசுக்க மிகச் சுலபம்
எறும்பு தான் என்றாலும்
சுலபமாய் இருப்பதால்
கொலையா செய்வது?

This was translated by Asokamithran - considered by many as the greatest tamil writer alive .

It didn't bite you,
Then why did you kill it?

Maybe killing an ant
is the easiest thing in the world.
Should you kill it
just because it is so?

Link via Era.Murukan

11 comments:

Googly said...

Chenthil - I'm feeling bad for doing similar acts so many times. Hope not to do it again.

Yaaro said...

எண்ணத்தின் தீவிரம் வரிகளில் தெரிகிறது ....நடையும் அழகு

நானும் ஒரு வலைப்பதிவு உருவாக்கியுள்ளேன் ..பாருங்களேன்
valaikkulmazhai.wordpress.காம்

-கார்த்தி

Anonymous said...

Good one!Thanks for sharing......:)

Krishnan said...

Chenthil - thanks a lot for sharing this wonderful nugget - has been writing for long ?

Hawkeye said...

kamala haasan used this analagy in aTV interview once. He said "athu dhaan manidha iyalbu"

Ela said...

nice one!

Krishnan said...

Check out this link :

http://www.museindia.com/showconnew.asp?id=384

Anonymous said...

Clearly the poet is not a gardener, but:

The ant,
When it didn't bite you,
Why did you kill it?

In this world,
To crush is very easy,
Even if it is only an ant,
Just because it is easy,
Must you kill?

A bit more faithful anyway -- Ashokamitran's translation doesn't reproduce the lineation or the way the double-meaning lines.

Is translation of a poem just about giving an executive summary of its "meaning"? (Is poetry just about taking scissors to an aphorism?)

Chenthil said...

googly - ?

Yaaro - thanks.

Krishnan - both the poet and the translator have been writing for atleast 50 years.

Hawkeye - Kamal comes across as an ardent reader of modern tamil literature in his interviews.

Ela - thanks.

Anon - reading your translation, I think it comes across better than AMs. Translating poetry is a tough job. The translator is always in two minds - does he stick to the form of the poem or just distil its meaning. As I read somewhere, translation is like transferring perfume out of one bottle to another, some essence is always lost. The main reason I stopped my series on Bharathi's poems was this - I couldn't stick to his form as well as the meaning.

Anonymous said...

Anyone of mind to "distill meaning" is not a translator.

"Distilling meaning" is for critics to do with quotation and straightforwardness about which is text and which is gloss.

ashok said...

Deepavali nalvazthukkal chen...