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> Charles Baudelaire: L'Albatros, translated by Marc-Andre Germain
Marc-Andre Germa...
post May 12 09, 07:21
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Real Name: Marc-Andre Germain
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[I am now translating poems by Charles Baudelaire. Next, I intend to try my hand at translating the poems of Pablo Neruda. I also plan to write critiques for the poems I've translated. -- Original French text below.]

Quite commonly, for sport, the members of a crew
will snatch the albatross, great birds of the oceans,
those fellow travelers who idly tail the sloops
that sail the seven seas, above acrid trenches.

The moment they are laid on the weather deck planks
those azure world monarchs, ungainly and much shamed,
let drag despondently their white majestic wings,
like unattended oars, hobbling at their flanks.

This winged vacationer, lumbering plasticine,
he who was so gorgeous, how ugly, how absurd!
A sailor baits his beak with a lit corncob pipe,
another limps to mock the cripple that could fly!

The poet is akin to this prince of the mist
who would haunt storms at sea to sneer at admirals;
banished to solid ground amid the public’s taunts
for donning giant wings, which have caused his great fall.

..............................................................................

Souvent, pour s’amuser, les hommes d’equipage
Prennent des albatros, vastes oiseaux des mers.
Qui suivend, indolents compagnons de voyage,
Le navire glissant sur les gouffres amers.

A peine les ont-ils deposes sur les planches
Que ces rois de l’azur, maladroits et honteux,
Laissent piteusement leurs grandes ailes blanches
Comme des avirons trainer a cote d’eux.

Ce voyageur aile, comme il est gauche et veule!
Lui, naguere si beau, qu’il est comique et laid!
L’un agace son bec avec un brule-gueule,
L’autre mime, en boitant, l’infirme qui volait!

Le poete est semblable au prince des nuees
Qui hante la tempete et se rit de l’archer;
Exile sur le sol au milieu des huees,
Ses ailes de geants l’empechent de marcher.


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Psyche
post May 13 09, 15:21
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Wonderful, Marc! I don't believe I have any Baudelaire English translations. I do have some of his books in French, so you'll help me to understand them better.

Thanks for sharing!
Syl***


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Marc-Andre Germa...
post May 13 09, 20:35
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Sylvia,

Thanks for reading. This poem has a particular significance for me; allow me to share a little anecdote.

This poem was my introduction to poetry. In primary school, we had to remember a poem by heart and recite it to the class, so my mother and I opened an anthology and we chose this one. I remembered it all, recited it perfectly in class and got...0%!!! My mother contacted my teacher, who explained that what we were supposed to remember was four to eight lines of Lafontaine. My mother was in a fury. This was the start of my alienation with school. In secondary school, the French class teachers would constantly ask me to put my book away (Moliere, Racine) and attend to the class.

Mark


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post May 14 09, 08:55
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Mark, I really liked this, wish I could understand it in the original, I can pick out a word or two, I remember our summer neighbor whose family would come down from Quebec... and his hollering at us in French...I have a smattering of Spanish, more of German, and one or two unrepeatable words in Turkish. I read your translation of Neruda which also looked promising.

Steve
 
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Marc-Andre Germa...
post May 14 09, 11:01
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Steve,

Thanks for reading. I'm glad to know you like it. I studied Spanish 16 years ago, and I've got less than a smattering left. But Neruda's poetry motivates me to get some textbooks and study it again. Speaking French and having a fair knowledge of Italian makes reading Spanish not too difficult, though it is highly probable that I'm missing a lot of nuances.

I speak a few Asian languages, if that can ever prove useful to any member here.

Mark


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Marc-Andre Germa...
post May 14 09, 12:55
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Here's another one:


I am akin to kings in rainy lands:
he’s rich, but impotent; though young, he’s old;
he idles with his dogs; as with all critters,
he’s bored with tutors who just won’t kowtow.

Nothing will do to cheer him now: no falcon
nor game nor people dying at his gates.
His jester’s skits, no matter how grotesque,
can no longer amuse this cruel madcap.

His royal bed’ metamorphosed: it’s now
a tomb. The ladies at the court - who’ll fancy
any prince - no longer have the charms
to draw a smile from this young skeleton.

His alchemist has never found the way
to cleanse him of corrupting elements.
He cherishes the Roman’s heritage
of blood bath history and reverence
for yesterday‘s heroes. His cold cadaver’s
blood gave way to the green waters of Lethe.

.................................................................

Je suis comme le roi d’un pays pluvieux
Riche, mais impuissant, jeune et pourtant tres vieux,
Qui, de ces precepteurs meprisant les courbettes,
S’ennuie avec ses chiens comme avec d’autres betes.

Rien ne peut l’egayer, ni gibier, ni faucon,
Ni son peuple mourant en face du balcom.
Du bouffon favori la grotesque ballade
Ne distrait plus le front de ce cruel malade;

Son lit fleurdelise se transforme en tombeau,
Et les dames d’atour, pour qui tout prince est beau,
Ne savent plus trouver d’impudique toilette
Pour tirer un souris de ce jeune squelette.

Le savant qui lui fait de l’or n’a jamais pu
De son etre extirper l’element corrompu,
Et dans ces bains de sang qui des Romains nous viennent,
Et dont sur leur vieux jours les puissants se souviennent,
Il n’a su rechauffer ce cadavre hebete
Ou coule au lieu de sang l’eau verte du Lethe.


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