Saturday, November 14, 2009

And Now For Something Completely Different

No, not Monty Python, but poetry.A  friend recently posted a poem written in Arabic, and I took it as a learning experience to translate it into English. I knew it would be a lot of fun because the poem was very soulful.

يا لبنان تأخرنا، خلي جدودك تنطرنا... لح نرجع من بعد غياب، نسهر تحت أناطرنا... أجمل عطر بكل الكون، ريحة خير بيادرنا...لسطيحاتك مشتاقين، لدبكي وسلال التين, فيك منبئا ربحانين، لو كل الكون خسرنا...يا لبنان شبعنا غياب حقك إنو تعاتبنا, وحياتك يا أغلى تراب، لح نرجع مهما غبنا

Oh Lebanon, We've tarried too long! Don't let the forefathers give up on us... We're coming back soon to sleep under the vaulted ceilings of our homes. The most beautiful perfume ever, is the smell of our fresh mountain streams.

I miss the back yard, the Debki dance, and baskets of figs. You're a birthplace worth something even if we lose the whole world. Oh Lebanon, we're sick of being away, you're right to reprimand us. I swear on your noble soil that I'm coming back some day!

This is a good spot to talk about translation. The Arabic is beautiful, and this English rendering still carries some of that soulful expression. The above translation is not literally what Claud said. Literal translations are an exact, word-for-word rendering of the original. They are often not the best way to convey what the speaker or writer meant, because some ideas really don't translate well literally. Here's a more literal translation of what Claud said:

Oh Lebanon, we are tardy! Let your grandfathers protect us... We're not back from our absence yet, to spend the nights under the vaulted arches of our traditional homes. The most beautiful perfume in all the universe, is the fragrance of our fresh streams.

I miss the back yard, the Debki and fig baskets. You are a victorious birthplace, if all the universe is lost. Oh Lebanon we are sick of the absence, of your truth which reprimands us, and on the life of your noble soil, its imperative that we will return at our time.

That's actually a starting translation I made to get a feel for what he was trying to say. It just doesn't ring when translated literally, does it?

Lebanon lends herself to poetry because of her sheer beauty, elegance, and majesty.

Let grain abound throughout the land;
on the tops of the hills may it sway.
Let its fruit flourish like Lebanon;
let it thrive like the grass of the field.

May his name endure forever;
may it continue as long as the sun.
All nations will be blessed through him,
and they will call him blessed.

Praise be to the LORD God, the God of Israel,
who alone does marvelous deeds.
Praise be to his glorious name forever;
may the whole earth be filled with his glory.
Amen and Amen.

Inspired by my friend, I wrote my own poem for Lebanon. My Arabic won't be so eloquent as his. I'm writing the the Modern Standard Arabic, so it will sound a bit antiquated and formal to the Arab ear. I've included an English translation below it.

,يا لبنان, عيوني لن شفت مجد جبالك
.وانفي لن شم عطر الارز
لماذا يتاق قلبي اليك؟

,يا لبنان, اقدامي ان رقصت الدبكى
.واذاني لن سمعت موسيق قرياتك
اذا كيف احلم عنك؟

!بتسحرني مع جمالك يا لبنان

Oh Lebanon, my eyes have never seen the majesty of your mountains, and my nose has never smelled the fragrance of your cedars.
Why then, does my heart yearn for you?

Oh Lebanon, my feet have never danced the Debki, and my ears have never heard the music of your villages.
How then do I dream of you?

You bewitch me with your beauty, oh Lebanon!

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