Week 2

§ Homolinguistic translation: Take a poem (someone else’s or your own) and translate/rewrite/revise it by substituting word for word, phrase for phrase, line for line, or “free” translation as response to each phrase or sentence. Or do several versions of the “same” poem. Or: translate the poem into another, or several other, literary styles.

 


A Coyote


I conjure this nightfallen scene’s desert:

some other, breathing, looms,

aside from my watch’s steady heartache

and the pallid notebook beneath still hands.


Beyond the pane, not one piercing light;

a thing, much closer,

but hidden, draped in blackened velvet,

slips into my own yearning solitude:


ragged, tense as surrounding sandstone,

a coyote sniffs brush, breeze;

a keen nose spurs hungry step,

step, stepstep, quickening steps that


trail a far-off rabbit’s twitching path.

A pause to cry—sharp, lonely

arias to wind, sky, and moon;

white throat catching a beam


that rides the notes for miles,

breaking through dark, silence.

A flash of movement, left, catches

eye and breath, hair and muscle,


til, with sudden release, a spring up

and down, jaws clenched round his faltering trophy.

The sunken blackness lingering; hands tick,

flutter across the newly marked page.

 


Original

The Thought-Fox

by Ted Hughes


I imagine this midnight moment’s forest:

Something else is alive

Beside the clock’s loneliness

And this blank page where my fingers move.


Through the window I see no star:

Something more near

Though deeper within darkness

Is entering the loneliness:


Cold, delicately as the dark snow,

A fox’s nose touches twig, leaf;

Two eyes serve a movement, that now

And again now, and now, and now


Sets heat prints into the snow

Between trees, and warily a lame

Shadow lags by stump and in hollow

Of a body that is bold to come


Across clearings, an eye,

A widening deepening greenness,

Brilliantly, concentratedly,

Coming about its own business


Till, with a sudden sharp hot stink of fox

It enters the dark hole of the head.

The window is starless still; the clock ticks,

The page is printed.

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