Poems

Moon

Notes

We were really fortunate to have Victor with us when we translated his beautiful poem about the moon. Although he doesn't speak English, he listened very carefully to our translation and told us that he thought it was better than his own translation into Spanish!

Victor was especially pleased with the way we'd managed to capture the rhythm in the Zapotec of the opening lines of each stanza: 'Cá' and 'Nanda', which we rendered as 'Hung' and 'Hanging'.

The real struggle was managing the opening image. A footnote in Spanish (see Notes on the Literal Version) explains that the (red, harvest) moon is compared to a tradition in Zapotec society whereby people leave coins on the tops of their special ovens which then get red and covered with ash. After lengthy discussion about how to render this Zapotec oven into English (tandoor was suggested), we realised that, in this instance, an oven was an oven, and that 'a red-hot coin / lifted from an oven' would convey that image perfectly.

We were also pleased with the 'white veil' image which conveys the notion of passing clouds so well. And the fortuitous notion of 'a round / of freshly-made cheese' that exists in English. Again, Victor appreciated the sound of 'cast cool across the earth'.

As with 'Frog', the other poem of Victor's we translated together, he declared he thought our translation was better than his own into Spanish!

Victor translated his poem into Spanish:

La luna

Puesta en el cielo.
Cenicienta y rojiza moneda
levantada del fogón, puesta.                            (1)
De cuando en cuando un lienzo largo
cubre su rostro, obscurece,
como yo, cuando te pierdo. 

Pende.
Queso
recién cuajado es, pende.
Mil hebras de su luz
esparcen frescor sobre la tierra,
como yo, cuando te miro.

(1) El poeta, usa la imagen cenicienta y rojiza de una moneda metálica de veinte centavos,  levantada del fogón (fogón: cocina rústica de leña, construida con barro sobre una mesa), y la equipara con la luna.  Las señoras de la región, generalmente, ponen sus monedas fraccionarias junto al fogón, donde están cocinando, y éstas con las cenizas y el calor, adquieren un parecido con la luna cenicienta y rojiza, que a veces vemos en el cielo.

Sica ti de gande/ biasa íque dé - como una moneda metálica de veinte centavos/ levantada del fogón: el poeta, usa la imagen cenicienta y rojiza de una moneda metálica de veinte centavos,  levantada del fogón (fogón: cocina rústica de leña, construida con barro sobre una mesa), y la equipara con la luna.  Las señoras de la región, generalmente, ponen sus monedas fraccionarias junto al fogón, donde están cocinando, y éstas con las cenizas y el calor, adquieren un parecido con la luna cenicienta y rojiza, que a veces vemos en el cielo.

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