Monday, 5 November 2012

Playing with the big boys

And girls. Professor Susan Bassnett, one of the four judges for this year’s Times Stephen Spender Trust Prize for poetry in translation writes High on my personal list of fine translations was Peter Mullins' superb rendering of nine short poems from the Orkneyinga Saga.

This doesn’t in fact mean I won one of the three prizes announced on Saturday, nor even achieved one of the six further ‘Commended’ places, but, nevertheless, it is just possibly a comment to which I may return in my own mind from time to time.

The organiser very kindly sent me an e-mail a short while ago to alert me to the fact that I was to be what I now think of as ‘a runner-up to the runners-up’ and to invite me to the Prize event in London tomorrow, which sadly I can’t make.

I’ve posted four of the poems here last year, one on 11th September and three more on 29th December.

One of the others is a strange little piece with possibly onomatopoeic noises to represent the incomprehensibility as well as the shivering of a servant girl whose need Earl Rognvald unconvincingly credits himself alone with grasping.

Professor Judith Jesch's critical edition gives a literal translation

You are sitting round the fire, while Asa – atatata! – is lying in the water – hutututu! Where shall I sit? I am rather cold

and the Penguin Classic version (possibly based on a slightly different original scholarly text) is

You sit steaming, but Asa’s
s-soaked to the skin;
f-f-far from the fire,
I’m freezing to death.

My version attempts to retain the original sounds in the middle:

Storm soaked and freezing
Asa is pleading
with teeth chat-at-atering
and speech stu-ut-utering
for space by the fire
to get herself warm.

No comments: