Thursday, November 3, 2016

David Gilbey #6 mistranslation

At the recent Japan Writers Conference in Tokushima, James Shea presented a workshop on (mis)translation. In response to a Norwegian poem, having no idea of the language, its grammar, etymology, I was 'freed' to write:

Sky Diving

Sure, flying out of a window sees death ahead
and legend tells us the end will be painful –
some fucker always puts a flagpole in the way.

But if you smash it with a computer
or throw your co-worker’s chair
careful not to trip over the boss
bending over his secretary’s cleavage as she types …

… you still won’t get very far.
The day will kick you in the balls
and leave you breathless, wounded
wishing you’d never got out of bed.

So better take a holiday –
try bungy-jumping.
If you’re lucky, the rope will hold

and you’ll live to fall another day.

I discovered later the poem is a fine modernist poem by Rolf Jacobsen and has been variously translated as 'Guardian Angel'


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