Saturday, March 11, 2017

Translating Poetry

Let the beauty of the image be translated, not the form of the word. Let beauty translate into beauty, through the beauty of the silent soul.

As in quantum physics, every particle exists only for a timeless instant as a pulsation, then disappears back into the vacuum. There is no continuity, no 'self' to anything, just pulsations, discontinuities, ever dissolving. Just so, imbibe the beauty of the poem you want to translate and with that image, phrase, or word, transcend into pure consciousness, pure soul-silence...

Then re-emerge and realize that impulse in the language to which you want to translate. The new phrase will be inspired by the same divine silence that inspired the original.

So we really don't translate poetry from one language to another. We translate everything back into divine silence, then rebirth it as original inspiration in another language. This is the difference between "technical" translation and "free" translation.

This is how Rumi and Hafiz are translated into English by Coleman Barks and others: they translate the spiritual sense of the poem, not the technicality of it. It's also the way "free translations" in English were made with Laotzu's Tao Te Ching. It would be impossible to do a strictly "technical translation" and make it vibrate with the same beauty. So let us do the inspired translation first, then check back and do some technical work on it.

This is what 'Insha'alah' ('if God wills') really means. Let the intention pass through the grace of divine silence before putting it into Word or action.

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