Any Liquid Poured into a Vessel…


The challenge in working on a translation of this poem is that it appears to express a substantial philosophy, at least in terms of Suleimenov's views on the importance of language, and therefore one must also wrestle with understanding that philosophy. We worried at the various metaphors and comparisons, hoping to make them explicit while retaining some degree of semantic pliability and rhythmic bounce. Suleimenov's horses caused us particular problems; Assiya explained it to us in terms of the Incredible Hulk residing in the body of Bruce Banner, and adds:

"In the original, the phrase 'komoni' (horses) is an older, or archaic version of 'koni' (horses) in Russian, which is not possible to translate exactly into English. So, 'in every horse (kon') / a great horse (komon') follows'. The horses stand for words in general, in that the words we use now have deeper, stronger meanings and connotations when one looks at their etymology."

In the final lines, two of the words in the original Russian referred to a particular material associated with yurts and an ancient kind of stone cooking station respectively. There are no such comparable words in English that we could think of, so we decided to use 'yurts' rather than the material they are made of, and resigned ourselves to simply 'cooking stoves' for the other. We did rather better, I think, with the lines immediately preceding these, where we drew out the idea of a world as fiery cosmos, burning up matter inside it.

Jon Stone, Workshop Facilitator