On Valentine’s Day we express our love and affection for others in many ways – be it through gifts, flowers, chocolates, or even poetry. But love poems in different languages that best express our feelings can lose their essence in translation. Luckily, professional translation services providers, skilled in translating poetry have been able to convey the meaning of some of the world’s most famous love poems – such as “A Ballad About Love” by Vladimir Semyonovich Vysotsky.
Valentines Day is here, and people across the United States are expressing their love for one another in a variety of ways. Valentines Day love poems are a popular choice for those looking for something more romantic and traditional – and across the globe there are many different love poems in different languages that may accurately express your emotions. The challenge comes when trying to translate that poetry for your loved one, as it isn’t quite as straightforward as it may seem.
Take the first stanza of William Shakespeare’s famous love sonnet, “Shall I compare thee with a summer’s day?”, a poem that has been translated into so many languages. Not only is it challenging for the obvious difficulties associated with translating the rhyme, but it is written in Old English, and thus a more literary form of the language must be reflected in its translation. Moreover, while in Shakespeare’s England summer is a associated with beauty, in parts of the world where summer days are scorching hot the metaphor may not translate as well.
Thou art more lovely and more temperate
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date.”
Translating Poetry | Russian Love Poems
Vladimir Semyonovich Vysotsky (January 25, 1938 – July 25, 1980) was a Russian singer-songwriter, poet, and actor whose career has greatly influenced Russian culture. He is especially remembered for his unique singing style and satirical lyrics, filled with sociopolitical commentary of the Soviet Union. He also achieved fame through his passionate love poems. Below is one of his famous Russian love poems: БАЛЛАДА О ЛЮБВИ or Ballad about Love in English.
БАЛЛАДА О ЛЮБВИ by Влади́мир Семёнович Высо́цкий
Russian First Stanza:
Когда вода всемирного потопа
Вернулась вновь в границы берегов,
Из пены уходящего потока
На берег тихо выбралась любовь
И растворилась в воздухе до срока,
А срока было сорок сороков.
Ballad about Love by Vladimir Semyonovich Vysotsky
English Translation by Maya Jouravel
“When, after all, the great deluge was over,
The seas came back within their coastal lines,
Out of the foam of the receding water
The love came out softly to the land.
And, for some time, it faded in the air,
And lasted for an eon and some then.”
The 6 Challenges of Translating Poetry
Although the above translation seems rather effortless, as stated before there are many challenges that a translator will face when translating poetry. Below are six common problems professional translators must overcome – giving us all a new appreciation for poetry and literature translation.
- Linguistic Issues – Words in combination with the proper syntax that actually make sense in both the source and target languages can be quite challenging, especially for languages that differ structurally.
- Literary Problems – Using the correct words and word order while preserving the original meaning and balance of the poem is an important element in preserving the aesthetics of a poem.
- Poetic Structure – The length and balance of each line must be maintained in the target language in order to preserve the artistic quality of the original poem.
- Metaphorical Expressions – Metaphors and symbolism evoke images or feelings that are strongly linked to language and thus to the successful translation of a poem.
- Rhythm and Rhyme – One of the most challenging parts is preserving the rhythm and rhyme, and thus the flow of a poem in another language. If this is not successfully done in the translation it can completely change the sound and artistic appeal of the poem.
- Cultural References – Most poetry, and literature in general, tends to use cultural references that may not make sense or lose their intended meaning or charm in translation. The translator must therefore identify a linguistic equivalent that expresses a similar feeling for the target audience.
We at Language Connections wish you a very Happy Valentine’s Day!
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