Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Lot's Wife - Anna Akhmatova / Richard Wilbur

While reading the collected poems of Richard Wilbur, I came across his translation of Anna Akhmatova's Russian poem Lot's Wife. I didn't know this biblical story before, but found this poem very powerful. The Tamil translation is mine.

Photo from Wikipedia page on Lot.

அந்த நியாயவான் தன் இறைதூதரைத் தொடர்ந்து
உறுதியோடு நடை போட்டான்.
அவன் மனைவியின் உள்ளமோ சோகத்தில் குமுறியது
“இன்னும் நேரமிருக்கிறது ஒரு கடைசிப் பார்வைக்கு. திரும்பிப் பார்

உன் சொந்த ஊரான சோதோம் மாநகரின் மாளிகைகளை,
நீ சந்தோஷமாய் பாடித்திரிந்த அதன் சதுக்கங்களை,
நீ நினைத்து நினைத்து அழப் போகும் அதன் பூங்காக்களை,
உன் கணவனுடன் குலாவி குழந்தைகள் பெற்றெடுத்த அந்த மாடி வீட்டை”

அவள் துக்கத்துடன் திரும்பிப் பார்த்தாள்.
அந்த கடைசிக் காட்சியோடு அவள் கண்கள் உறைந்தன.
துள்ளியோடிய கால்கள் ஆனியடித்தாற் போல் நிலைத்தன.
தொட்டால் உதிர்ந்திடும் உப்புச் சிலையானாள் அவள்.

அவளுக்காக கண்ணீர் சிந்துவது யார்? கடவுள் சொல்
கேளா அந்தப் பேதையைப் பற்றி யாருக்கு என்ன கவலை?
ஆனால் என்றும் மறக்க முடியாது என்னால்
ஒரு பார்வைக்காக உயிரைத் துறாந்த அவளை.

The just man followed then his angel guide
Where he strode on the black highway, hulking and bright;
But a wild grief in his wife's bosom cried,
Look back, it is not too late for a last sight!

Of the red towers of your native Sodom, the square
Where once you sang, the gardens you shall mourn,
And the tall house with empty windows where
You loved your husband and your babes were born.

She turned, and looking on the bitter view
Her eyes were welded shut by mortal pain;
Into transparent salt her body grew,
And her quick feet were rooted in the plain.

Who would waste tears upon her? Is she not
The least of our losses, this unhappy wife?
Yet in my heart she will not be forgot
Who, for a single glance, gave up her life.

You can find the story of Lot here.


Krishnan said...

Good effort ! I have often heard of this great Russian poet Anna Akhmatova but somehow never found time to check her out. I have read somewhere that there is book with Tamizh translation of her poems.

Chenthil said...

Krishnan - Here is her wiki page. Some of her poems were translated by Latha Ramakrishnan and published by Uyirmmai last year. You can find the book here. I haven't read it so far.

Anonymous said...

Excellent translation.

Prabhakar said...

Thanks for introducing and translating an excellent poem. All our lives we have to turn back on things we love, not because we will be turned into salt but because good things don't last -- childhood, boyhood, youth and so on. It is even more wrenching for women who are transplanted after marriage. Who can forget Vairamuthu's Poraale Ponnuthaayi song.

Vidya Jayaraman said...

Arrived here via the yAnai poem. A beautiful idea and imagery too!

But in this poem, the first and last paragraph's translation leaves much to be desired for - flow, imagery and word choice-wise. கொஞ்சம் refine செய்யலாமே? The 'least of our losses' conveys a lot because a whole town is getting destroyed and one more life should not matter. மற்ற பத்திகள் நன்றாக ஒலிக்கின்றன.

Nice translation considering that, Akhmatova is a difficult poet to translate. Both in paucity of words and yet effectiveness of imagery its tough to reproduce that style.

Brown Toyin said...

This translation is more rhythmic than the previous ones I read. The use of end rhyme scheme of abab makes it naturally poetic & enjoyable.

mbachu juliet said...

The use of imagery especially visual imagery helps in digesting the poem