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I need your help with a poem!
Topic Rating: +1 (1 votes) 
2014/05/08
3:20pm
Zahra
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Hi all,
As an English student, I have translated this poem from Persian to English. I need your help with it. Could you please read it. I want to know what kind of impression a native speaker of English gets by reading it.
Does it seem like a real poem?
Does it have a natural language?
What do you get from the colored lines? I wanted to imply that the flower has seen more daylight. Have I been successful?
I would appreciate if you offer any modifications that would make it better.

The Secret of Life
By Gheysar Aminpour

The bud tristfully said:
Life is
One’s lips from laughter to shut,
In a corner inside oneself to squat.
The flower, said laughing:
Life is to blossom,
Secrets with a green tongue to reveal.
The discussion between the bud and the flower from the garden
Still is heard….
What do you think?
Who is really right?
I think
The flower has hinted at the secret of life;
After all, she is a flower;
The flower, a Couple of Shirts
More than the bud, has worn out!

Thanks a million.

2014/05/08
11:31pm
deaconB
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The average native speaker of English is going to be confused by the poem, starting with  the first line. I had to reach for the dictionary, not being able to figure out what a bathysphere has to do with anything.  It’s OK for a poem to stretch the reader a little, but tristfully is a word not even one in a hundred editors would know.

Translation is always difficult, and poetry us even more of a problem.  I admire your courage in attempting thus task.

I suspect you’re trying to do a word-for-word translation.  You will need to take greater liberties to maintain the sense in a poetic form.

2014/05/09
12:04am
Robert
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My impression is it is quite interesting.  The bud is a thing that blooms into life, but does a bud ever know life?- much less death.   By contrast, the flower knows both life and death.  So the poem is about a clash of perspectives.  The flower seems to be wiser, it laughs, and its death in the end is an affirmation that it has known life, that the secret of life includes death.

I wouldn’t dare recommend modifications to a Persian-origin text for obvious reason.  But I like this poem just the way it is, as an English poem.  (Only ‘trist’  is quite a strange word to me.   Maybe you want the bud to speak trustfully,  or else wonderingly or naively or longingly or forlornly.)

2014/05/09
5:50am
Glenn
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I would appreciate if you offer any modifications that would make it better.
The Secret of Life
By Gheysar Aminpour
The bud tristfully said:
Life is
One’s lips from laughter to shut,
In a corner inside oneself to squat.
The flower, said laughing:
Life is to blossom,
Secrets with a green tongue to reveal.
The discussion between the bud and the flower from the garden
Still is heard….
What do you think?
Who is really right?
I think
The flower has hinted at the secret of life;
After all, she is a flower;
The flower, a Couple of Shirts
More than the bud, has worn out!

I also find the poem interesting. I’m also not sure I get the meaning, especially in some spots. There are two overall comments I’d make for improvement.

First, you have inverted the English syntax in a few spots: (e.g. ” … One’s lips from laughter to shut, / In a corner inside oneself to squat.” ) While this is often done in English poetry, it is a device usually reserved because of the constraints of formal rhyming poetry. It is jarring in this blank verse. The word order seems out of place in a few spots.

Second, your level of language seems to shift. It starts off very formal and “poetic”, then when I get to the lines “What do you think? / Who is really right?” I feel like I’ve dropped a few hundred feet into the vernacular. It is jarring, but I’m not sure it is the kind of effect you want.

I’m not sure I got all the meaning correct, since I don’t know the original, but here is a rewrite to consider:

The Secret of Life
By Gheysar Aminpour

The bud sorrowfully said:
Life is
A closing of the lips from laughter to silence,
Finding a corner inside yourself to squat.
The bloom, said laughing:
Life is to blossom,
Sharing her secrets with a verdant tongue.
The backyard discussion between the bud and the bloom
can still be heard….
What are your thoughts?
Who has the answer?
I think
The blossom has whispered the secret of life.
After all, she is a bloom:
And the blossom has worn a few blouses
More than the bud, and has worn them out!

Does any of this work?

2014/05/09
6:51am
Robert
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Zahra, that looks like a great way to rewrite it.  I would consider it.

2014/05/09
7:02am
Zahra
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Hi,
Thanks a lot.
I read your comments over and over again.
They do work a lot.
Here I see the difference between a well-read native speaker of English and a non-native student.
I learned more than whatever I could both in a poetry class and a literary translation class.

Glenn’s rewrite is much much different and a lot better than mine.

Thanks.

2014/05/09
12:36pm
San Diego, CA
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Glenn, that’s a marvelous rewrite. Thank you. “Sorrowfully” is a wonderful choice.

2014/05/09
1:33pm
Zahra
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Yeah. That’s what conveys the exact meaning of the original word the poet has used, but I couldn’t find the English equivalent.

2014/05/09
3:56pm
Glenn
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Martha Barnette said

Glenn, that’s a marvelous rewrite. Thank you. “Sorrowfully” is a wonderful choice.

I am honored and flattered. To top it off, I got to use my word-wall word and prove why whisper is a favorite word: it has such range!
AWWW Word Wall

Whisper can evoke intimacy, threat, love, power, timidity, hatred, indifference, confidence, illness, comfort, and more.

2014/05/09
10:49pm
Robert
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‘Sorrow’  may not be best for this context though, as it is often associated with maturity  and wariness of life.   A tree bud ,  like a young child, is more associated with exuberant promises of life.  The bud in this poem perhaps is dreaming ,  wondering longingly, or else it is affecting an air of knowing about a life it will never have.

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