Transparent Sounds Of Hoofs - Poem by gershon hepner
Transparent sounds of hoofs may sound like thuds
or clangs to those who are insensitive to sense;
translators’ works will turn out to be duds
if meaning is of minor consequence.
Originally no text is opaque
except to those who give it less respect
than they would give a horse which they forsake
and shoot because they don’t like its defects.
Richard Pevear (“Tolstoy’s Transparent Sounds, ” NYT, October 13,2007) writes about the translation of “War and Peace” which he made in collaboration with Larissa Volokhonsky:
I’ve said “translator, ” and in a sense my collaboration with Larissa is so close that the two of us make up one translator who has the luck to be a native speaker of two languages. We work separately at first. Larissa produces a complete draft, following the original almost word by word, with many marginal comments and observations. From that, plus the original Russian, I make my own complete draft. Then we work closely together to arrive at a third draft, on which we make our “final” revisions. That working situation has its advantages. Translators are always in danger of drifting into the sort of language that is commonly referred to as “smooth, ” “natural” or, as they now say, “reader friendly, ” but is really only a tissue of ready-made phrases. When that happens to me, as it sometimes does, Larissa is there to stop me. Where I have my say is in judging the quality of our English text, that is, in drawing the line between a literal and a faithful rendering, which are not at all the same. If the translation does not finally “work” in English, it doesn’t work at all. I’ll take an example of what that collaboration can produce from Tolstoy’s description of the Russian Army crossing the river Enns. After a good deal of confusion, the hussar captain Denisov finally manages to clear the infantry from the bridge and send his cavalry over. As the first riders move onto the bridge, Tolstoy writes, “On the planks of the bridge the transparent sounds of hoofs rang out.” The Russian is unmistakable — prozrachnye zvuki, “transparent sounds” — and I find its precision breathtaking. It is pure Tolstoy. To my knowledge, it has never been translated into English. What we find in other versions is the “thud” or “clang” of hoofs, and it is likely that I would have done something similar if Larissa had not brought me back to what Tolstoy actually wrote. His prose is full of such moments of fresh, immediate perception. Coming upon them and finding words for them in English has been one of the most rewarding aspects of our work.
Comments about Transparent Sounds Of Hoofs by gershon hepner
Read this poem in other languages
This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.
- Still I RiseMaya Angelou
- The Road Not TakenRobert Frost
- If You Forget MePablo Neruda
- DreamsLangston Hughes
- Annabel LeeEdgar Allan Poe
- IfRudyard Kipling
- Stopping By Woods On A Snowy EveningRobert Frost
- I Do Not Love You Except Because I Love YouPablo Neruda
- Do Not Stand At My Grave And WeepMary Elizabeth Frye
- TelevisionRoald Dahl