Translating Poetry

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We were given a poem by Alan Gillis, «In Whose Blent Air All Our Compulsions Meet» (#7), to translate into our chosen language. As Norwegian is my native tongue, that’s what I used, and it was actually quite difficult. Due a bit to the strangeness of the poem, a 15-line sonnet, the topic (although made clearer thanks to a reading on YouTube), and the chosen words and imagery. But it was good fun, as it seemed to be a good example of how difficult literal translations actually can be.  I can’t find an online version of the poem, but listening to the original should do the trick. The title comes from a poem by Philip Larkin, ‘Church Going’, which you can read here, if you’d like.

Due to the fact that I haven’t had my exam yet, I don’t think I can post my complete translation here yet (plagiarism and all that). But sharing a little snippet should be fine, so here comes the four last lines;

hva vinden gjør med gjerdesmetten så lur

der den svever og stuper, på slik en kjærlighetstur,

så kommer du nærmere, dine øyne årvåkne som hos katten

idet du blåser ut stearinlyset. Nå er det natten.

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