Thursday, October 06, 2011

National Insecurity - Tomas Transtromer

Tomas Transtromer has won the Literature Nobel prize for 2011. Till I read the news I hadn't heard about him. A Swedish poet isn't exactly one whose books you find in Chennai. Out of curiosity I went to his site and found this poem. At the first reading I didn't understand it at all. The next reading made me think that it was about Condoleeza Rice and the Bush Administration's War on Terror. But this poem was published in 1997. Transtromer was clairvoyant I guess.

National Insecurity

The Under Secretary leans forward and draws an X
and her ear-drops dangle like swords of Damocles.

As a mottled butterfly is invisible against the ground
so the demon merges with the opened newspaper.

A helmet worn by no one has taken power.
The mother-turtle flees flying under the water.

My Tamil translation of the above - Bharathi did ask us to translate the best poems from other languages into Tamil.

தேசிய பாதுகாப்பின்மை

துறையின் கீழ்ச் செயலாளர் சற்றே முன் வந்து X குறியிடுகிறாள்.
அவள் காதணிகள் டமாக்ளசின் வாள்கள் போல் ஆடுகின்றன.

பல வண்ணப் பட்டாம்பூச்சி ஒன்று மண்ணோடு மறைவதைப் போல்
பேய் ஒன்று திறந்திருக்கும் செய்தித் தாள் மேல் படர்கிறது.

பெயரற்ற ஒரு தலைக்கவசம் அதிகாரம் பெற்றது.
தாய் ஆமை ஒன்று தண்ணீருக்குள்ளே பயந்து ஓடுகிறது.


Anonymous said...

Madeleine Albright was Sec of State before Condi. That's not quite "Under Secretary," but she was associated with the Iraq sanctions regime, which was a sword of Damocles of its own.

The poem seems quite thin to me, but if you want a translation challenge, try Sean O'Brien's Cousin Coat.

Glad to see you posting again.

shraddha said...

Hello sir,
I'm writing an article on tamil language bloggers and would love to get your inputs on the same.
Please do let me know your contact details or email me on for the same!
thanks and warm regards