Sunday, September 13, 2015

September 13: Translation

I spent this rainy afternoon working through a book I bought in Quebec City: a French translation of Japanese haiku by contemporary poet Mayuzumi Madoka. The book is arranged in four seasonal sections, with each haiku and its explication by the author on facing pages. I read through Spring and into Summer, fascinated by the nexus of several languages: the original Japanese, the French translation, my attempt to piece it together in English, and the universal poetic sensibility, which renders a good poem timeless in any language. It feels like a good exercise to play with words, image, and feelings in this way; I found myself longing for a retreat to submerge myself in this world for several days to see what might come out of it for my own poetry.
Here is my halting translation of one of her spring haiku:
by the toll of the temple bell--
this spring twilight.
Rainy afternoon--
I can almost hear the fog horn
or a temple bell.

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