13 February 2011

my lamp also burning at midnight

I was staring (in amazement) at this English translation of one of Ryōta Oshima’s haiku last night:

Who is it that is awake,
the lamp still burning?
Cold rain at midnight.

and it occurred to me that this can morph into Esperanto fairly easily:

Kies lamp’ ankoraŭ brulas?
Malvarma pluvo noktomeze.

Hmm. Esperanto. It resurfaces in my mind when I least expect it.


Bill Chapman said...

It's strange how the brain works. Once I was driving along, and without my active intervention, my brain put the words of Zamenhof's "Ho, mia kor'" to an English hymn tune "Lord of the years". I weasn't thinking of either at the time!

The challenge is to get the number of syllables right when translating a haiku, whether into English or Esperanto.

One advantage of Esperanto is the possibility of elision in poetry (i.e when you simply miss off the 'o'.) Another is the existence of poetic words like "frida" which is obviously one syllable shorter than "malvarma". Finally there is a freedom of word order, and the ability to alter the endings of words for a slightly altered meaning. "Pluvas fride noktomeze" sounds poetic to me, but I don't know the original, and my version has too mmany syllables.

R.K.Harrison said...

I suppose perfectionists would say my translation is not even a haiku because it does not break into 5-7-5 syllable lines. I considered frida vs. malvarma, brilas vs. brulas, pluvas vs. pluvo. Overall I am satisfied with my version.

I try to keep elision of final -o to a minimum in my Esperanto. I don't like the sound of words that end with -o, but I like the consonant clusters that result from dropping the vowel even less. So normally I will only drop the final -o if the next word starts with a vowel.