NaPoWriMo Day 16

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Hangers on may bail
Unless the people are separated
But be careful
They may catch on.

Resistance is rampant to change
Comfortable with the status quo
Then, a swift kick!

Pause for a dance party!
Celebrate freedom
With a clear conscience!
Hold your head high.
If you are pure
And without blame
You will succeed
And prosper!

Unintelligent Translation from Icelandic to English
by Cheryl Crockett
of the following:

Hægt eins og búrhveli
líðum við gegnum sortann
sem er hvítur
hér á heiðinni

Hann er fastheldinn á sitt
og gefur aðeins eftir
eina stiku í einu

Örskamma stund leiftra þær
í vegarkantinum
eins og eldspýtur
litlu stúlkunnar í ævintýrinu
og lýsa okkur
þar til við komum aftur
upp í vök
að blása

Slow as sperm whales
we glide through the gloom
which is white
here on the heath

It holds fast to its own
conceding only
one post at a time

For an instant they flash
on the side of the road
like the little girl’s matches
in the fairytale
lighting us
until we return
to the hole in the ice
to breathe

© 2007, Gerður Kristný
From: Höggstaður
Publisher: Mál og menning, Reykjavik, 2007

This is the Day 16 Challenge as it appears on

“…write a “translation” of a poem in a language you don’t actually know. Go to the Poetry International Language List, pick a language, and then follow it to a poet and a poem. Generally the Poetry International website will present a poem in its original language on the left, and any translation on the right. Cut and paste the original into the text-editing program of your choice (and try not to peek too much at the translation). Now, use the sound and shape of the words and lines to guide you, without worrying too much about whether your translation makes sense.

For example, here are the first few lines of “Staden Glitrade,” by the Finnish poet Tua Forsström

Staden glittrade på avstånd, och
jag stannade. Det var så vackert med
anläggningar och terrasserade trädgårdar

I might translate this as:

Stadium trading glitter in the stands, our
jagged standard! There was so much made
of longing and of the tri-guarded tesseracts.

That might not make much sense, but it gives me some lovely ideas and images. Glittering stadiums, flags, shapes and desire. Those are some great ingredients for a poem!

Once you have your rough “translation,” you could leave it at that, or continue to shape the poem. It’s up to you. Happy writing!”

Back to Cheryl’s NaPoWriMo 2013 Main Post

My daily haiku is below. I did not want my daily haiku for a year to serve as NaPoWriMo,
so below is a bonus… (you’re welcome!).

Haiku #106

Boston Marathon
Again we reconsider
Our powerlessness.

by Cheryl Crockett

See Cheryl’s Everyday Haiku 2013

Explore posts in the same categories: NaPoWriMo, Poetry

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2 Comments on “NaPoWriMo Day 16”

  1. Beth Camp Says:

    How brave and fun to tackle a poem in Icelandic. I didn’t want to read what you did until I finished mine (in safe Spanish), but it still opened my eyes to how hard translation is. How on earth did you come up with English words? I did like the poem in Icelandic, though the shift from nature to city images surprised me. But your haiku says everything there is to say about the Boston bombings.

    • poetatete Says:

      Thanks Beth! NaPoWriMo instructions steered me away from a language I know and asked that I avoid looking at the actual translation. After I finished my version I posted my selected poem and the true translation.
      First, I picked Hebrew, but the characters were indecipherable. My Icelandic translation is nothing like the original poem.
      The prompt seemed to me to be tongue in cheek: my silly moment during the month.

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