Poems

Nothing of Note

Notes

We had more than one Arabic speaker working with us on this translation, so enjoyed the benefit of some deep discussion on the connotations and double-meanings of many of the words in the original. In the line that we have translated as 'Neither possessed, nor a prophet', for example, the first adjective in Arabic implies a mesmerised, almost fanatical follower of a religious leader, while the second relates to the leader himself. So it could be literally translated as 'Neither a follower nor a leader', but we wanted to use words with connotations of religious reverence. We were also eager to maintain a mostly casual register, as in the original and as required by the theme and content of the poem (which insists that there is nothing special about its subject). We did allow ourselves 'dust-duned street', so as to suggest a thick covering where footprints ought to be visible, and also what is probably my favourite line: "like time would not walk with him."

 

Jon Stone

Workshop Facilitator

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