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Rotten to the Core


RHommel
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This is a Tanka poem in Spanish:

 

Putrifacto a la Base

 

Es tan viejo

como piña rancia...

con todo fresco.

No puedo ayudarse;

quiero a lamerlo.

 

------------------------

English Translation:

------------------------

 

Rotten to the Core

 

It (he) is so old

like rancid pineapple...

yet so fresh.

I cannot help it (I cannot be helped);

I want to lick it (him).

 

-------------------------

I have included the parenthetical translations because it could be translated into English either way, which in this case is why I wrote in Spanish, instead of English (my first language) as it gives more layers of meaning to the poem. Spanish is my second language.

-------------------------

 

~Rachel J. Hommel

Edited by RHommel
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Welcome, Rachel. This tanka, along with its English translation, is well-crafted and provocative. I hadn't considered the possibility of tanka composed in Spanish, but Spanish is probably truer to the form than English. As I understand, Spanish (like the Asian languages) is syllabic; one hears the syllables. English is an accentual language, and one cannot hear syllables in any meaningful way no matter how hard he tries. I also appreciate your having included the idiomatic differences in the translated version. (I took Spanish for three years in high school, but that was about twenty years ago.) Thanks for joining and for livening our World Poetry forum.

 

Tony

Here is a link to an index of my works on this site: tonyv's Member Archive topic

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Welcome, Rachel. This tanka, along with its English translation, is well-crafted and provocative. I hadn't considered the possibility of tanka composed in Spanish, but Spanish is probably truer to the form than English. As I understand, Spanish (like the Asian languages) is syllabic; one hears the syllables. English is an accentual language, and one cannot hear syllables in any meaningful way no matter how hard he tries. I also appreciate your having included the idiomatic differences in the translated version. (I took Spanish for three years in high school, but that was about twenty years ago.) Thanks for joining and for livening our World Poetry forum.

 

Tony

 

Thank you, Tony! I'm thrilled to have found you all here and am still exploring all that this site has for me to discover. I was challenged last fall by a fellow poet and friend to write one tanka per day for thirty days... during that month I spent a lot of time with my Spanish speaking family, so I started writing in Spanish... I have only written a few "share worthy" Spanish language poems, but I enjoy the differences in expression. There are just some things that are better said in a different language, I suppose... a sentiment that all of my bilingual friends and family have echoed.

 

I have begun to read what's here and feel blessed to be in such good company!

 

~Rachel

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I am already learning so much I didn't already know here. I just learned in the "tanka challenge" topic of the "poetry playground" that tanka are read in one breath and therefore have no periods at the end of lines. Really enjoying learning and stretching my writer's muscles. Thank you for this site!!

 

~Rachel

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I'm excited that you're here, Rachel! One of my favorite poets, James Wright, translated some works of the Spanish poets. My favorite one is Afternoon (Tarde) by Federico García Lorca. I made a topic with it. The link includes the original Spanish Version. Enjoy!

 

Tony

Here is a link to an index of my works on this site: tonyv's Member Archive topic

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I'm excited that you're here, Rachel! One of my favorite poets, James Wright, translated some works of the Spanish poets. My favorite one is Afternoon (Tarde) by Federico García Lorca. I made a topic with it. The link includes the original Spanish Version. Enjoy!

 

Tony

 

Wow. I read his Wiki bio and he and I have a bunch in common, not the least of which are our origins... although I have to say his translation of Lorca's work is a little disappointing for me.

 

There are so many layers to Lorca's poem in the double meaning of words and the colloquialisms inherent in the language that traditional translatin cannot capture. For instance, the word "gasa" in Spanish is translated strictly as "gauze", yes... but is also used to mean "gas" colloquially, even though the Spanish word for gas is the same as in English. And the word "lunaritos" traditionally translated here means freckles (not blemishes, which makes it sound more like pimples), but the words "luna" and "ritos" separated by a simple space means "moon rites"... so the phrase says "the silence, bitten by the frogs, resembles painted guaze (or gas) with green freckles (with a double meaning of moon rites... or in English you might say the green wash of the moon or washed by green moon beams)". You see how the layers of meaning come out in the language? Gosh, I love that! What a beautiful poem! Thank you for sharing it. I will look for more of his work... I'll be able to post more here over the weekend when I'm not working, including some audio pieces I have... what an amazing idea that section is!!

 

~Rachel

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Wow. I read his Wiki bio and he and I have a bunch in common, not the least of which are our origins... although I have to say his translation of Lorca's work is a little disappointing for me.

 

There are so many layers to Lorca's poem in the double meaning of words and the colloquialisms inherent in the language that traditional translatin cannot capture. For instance, the word "gasa" in Spanish is translated strictly as "gauze", yes... but is also used to mean "gas" colloquially, even though the Spanish word for gas is the same as in English. And the word "lunaritos" traditionally translated here means freckles (not blemishes, which makes it sound more like pimples), but the words "luna" and "ritos" separated by a simple space means "moon rites"... so the phrase says "the silence, bitten by the frogs, resembles painted guaze (or gas) with green freckles (with a double meaning of moon rites... or in English you might say the green wash of the moon or washed by green moon beams)". You see how the layers of meaning come out in the language? Gosh, I love that! What a beautiful poem! Thank you for sharing it. I will look for more of his work... I'll be able to post more here over the weekend when I'm not working, including some audio pieces I have... what an amazing idea that section is!!

 

~Rachel

Wow, Rachel. I love the additional insight you've provided into the poem and the language. And I understand. Wright wasn't really a Spanish speaker, but he did attempt some translations of Lorca, Neruda, and a few others. I don't think he was a German speaker either, but while his translations of Georg Trakl appear in his "Complete Poems" volume Above the River, the translation of "Tarde" does not. That one was published in Robert Bly's periodical The Sixties in the fall of 1960. I'm not sure if this means Wright wasn't happy with it or if it even means anything else at all.

 

An interesting aside to this. In my day to day travels, I sometimes come across various Spanish speaking people who are mostly of South and Central American origin. Sometimes I'll run "Tres álamos inmensos/y una estrella" by them for fun and ask them what it means to them. I have more than once gotten in reply, "Three ... something ... and a star." They don't know that "alamo" means poplar! So, I'm not sure if it's a matter of erudition or a generally limited vocabulary, but it is perplexing to me.

 

Okay, I'm off to see your reply in "Where's your place." :) I have enjoyed this discussion -- thank you for it. I'm also eagerly looking forward to your audio recordings.

 

Tony

Here is a link to an index of my works on this site: tonyv's Member Archive topic

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Oooo! Good idea! I'll ask my people about that one as well... I wonder if it could be something as simple as a reference to the Texas Alamo, as in a place where a victory was won... Also, the word "alamar" means "brooch" or "decorative clasp" or something like that... which would be an interesting correlation to "star"... as in "Three big sparkly pieces of jewelry and one star" (that just makes me giggle, so maybe that's not it either). But... "al amos" means "to the masters" which could be a heavens reference (or more likely the Holy Trinity, used along with the word three). I'll check the Spanish section of the Missal at church the next time I go (now I have a reason to drag my sorry Godless butt there, haha... it's been far too long!) The other use of the word I have seen in popular literature that also linked the word alamos to the word for star is in a Julio Iglesias song (which was also translated into English using the word "poplar" though I agree that it doesn't sit right and seems like it could be something else), and also a translation for it into the English word "cottonwood". I'll let you know what I come up with.

 

~Rachel

 

Wow, Rachel. I love the additional insight you've provided into the poem and the language. And I understand. Wright wasn't really a Spanish speaker, but he did attempt some translations of Lorca, Neruda, and a few others. I don't think he was a German speaker either, but while his translations of Georg Trakl appear in his "Complete Poems" volume Above the River, the translation of "Tarde" does not. That one was published in Robert Bly's periodical The Sixties in the fall of 1960. I'm not sure if this means Wright wasn't happy with it or if it even means anything else at all.

 

An interesting aside to this. In my day to day travels, I sometimes come across various Spanish speaking people who are mostly of South and Central American origin. Sometimes I'll run "Tres álamos inmensos/y una estrella" by them for fun and ask them what it means to them. I have more than once gotten in reply, "Three ... something ... and a star." They don't know that "alamo" means poplar! So, I'm not sure if it's a matter of erudition or a generally limited vocabulary, but it is perplexing to me.

 

Okay, I'm off to see your reply in "Where's your place." :) I have enjoyed this discussion -- thank you for it. I'm also eagerly looking forward to your audio recordings.

 

Tony

Edited by RHommel
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English Translation:

------------------------

 

Rotten to the Core

 

It (he) is so old

like rancid pineapple...

yet so fresh.

I cannot help it (I cannot be helped);

I want to lick it (him).

 

-------------------------

I have included the parenthetical translations because it could be translated into English either way, which in this case is why I wrote in Spanish, instead of English (my first language) as it gives more layers of meaning to the poem. Spanish is my second language.

-------------------------

 

~Rachel J. Hommel

 

This poem reminds me of William Carlos Williams'

 

This is Just to Say

 

I have eaten

the plums

that were in

the icebox

 

and which

you were probably

saving

for breakfast

 

Forgive me

they were delicious

so sweet

and so cold

 

Just out of curiosity regarding the translation - in your notes it seems that there's no difference between "it" and "he" in Spanish?

 

Glad to read your Tanka.

 

Lake

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Just out of curiosity regarding the translation - in your notes it seems that there's no difference between "it" and "he" in Spanish?

 

I love that poem. What a compliment, Lake! Thank you.

 

There is definitely a difference between it (lo) and he (el) in Spanish, but the verb tenses used for both are the same and in this case (as in most spoken Spanish) the pronoun is implied and here it is left ambiguous as there is no real reference of subject, which I found to be a nice side effect of using the Spanish language over English in this particular poem. :icon_cool:

 

Thanks for reading! I'm going to post some more tonight now that it's a new week.

 

~Rachel

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  • 3 years later...

The form of Tanka originates from Japanese poetry. It arouses much interest to compose one in Spanish. If you be so kind as to translate it into Chinese, it will be more easily and more widely appreciated. Thanks.

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