Chapter V: Sleeping Poem
And a girl sleeps peacefully in bed
in a room exhausted by a glass of wine;
the emptied glass is like...
but let's just leave it undefined.
And a poem sleeps peacefully in this thought,
unadorned, in the country of sleep;
not to startle it, I'll break the rhyme -
without a rhyme, it can't be woken up.
The girl in the bed sleeps just like a poem -
how close I feel to what seems far away.
I'll choose a name for the sleeping symbol -
or else I'll leave it with no metaphor.
And, at her head, I'll place a sleeping poem
to serve as this book's invitation.
Leaving the new book's door ajar,
I'll wait until she enters.
I'll not button up the bodice that's undone -
I'll leave that to the angels.
Instead the poem will touch it into wakefulness
and thus the bodice will itself rebutton.
The sleeping poem -
the woman asleep....
No make up on her face, lips bare.
The drunken poet who serves the morning star
must answer for the morning hubbub.
For he is answerable before the people -
they'll blame him for the resurrection;
he took this woman out into the rain -
and to the rain he gave the woman and the power.
He gave the rain to the woman.
He gave the woman to the rain.
Heedless of custom or the Sabbath.
And when, dead drunk, he fell down in the street,
it was the rain and a dress soaked through who ran to him.
He gave life to the woman, he gave life to the rain.
He awakened the sleeping poem -
and then that familiar cry resounded once again:
Crucify the shepherd of the rain!
The literal translation of this poem was made by Natalia Bukia-Peters
The final translated version of the poem is by The Poetry Translation Workshop
We decided to call this 'Sleeping Poem' (dropping 'The') for its ambiguity: the poem is both itself sleeping and about sleep.
As you'll see if you look at the other poems on our website, this poem by Dato Magradze has a very different flavour to the others we've translated. This is because it's an extract from what is in effect a novel in verse form, which not only rhymes, but is inflected throughout with an infectious iambic rhythm in the original Georgian, something we realised we must attempt to reproduce.
© Poetry Translation Centre 2004-2013