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deepwaters Profile
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Public Love


Public Love
(by Ahmad Shamloo)

Tear is a secret
Smile is a secret
Love is a secret

My tear, that night, was a smile of love

I am not a story you read aloud
not a song you sing
not a voice to hear
or a thing for you to see
for you to know

I am a common pain
You only scream me

*

A tree speaks to the forest
grass to the desert
star to the galaxy
and I speak to you
tell me your name
give me your hand
tell my your story
give me your heart
I have found your roots
With your lips, I have told the story of lips
and my hands recognize yours.

In a bright solitude, I have cried with you
for the living,
And in a dark graveyard, I have sung with you
the most beautiful ballads
because the dead, this year,
were the most loving among the living.

Give me your hands
Your hands know mine
I speak to you, my late find
like a cloud to the storm
grass to the desert
rain to the ocean
bird to the spring
like a tree speaks to the forest

Because I
understand your roots
Because my voice
knows your voice.

 

Jul/23/2009, 3:13 pm Link to this post Send Email to deepwaters   Send PM to deepwaters
 
ChrisD1 Profile
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Re: Public Love


hi Shab,

Thanks for the introduction to Shamloo. In reading his bio, I was amazed to see the history of censorship and susppression of his work.

I'm trying to put my finger on the quality that sets this poetry apart from what I'm used to. Is it a kind of formality? Solemnity? Directness? Tendency to speak in declarative sentences? Whatever it is, it makes for a different orientation to experience. Does that make sense? Hope it makes enough sense for you to comment.

Chris
Jul/25/2009, 8:59 am Link to this post Send Email to ChrisD1   Send PM to ChrisD1
 
Terreson Profile
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Re: Public Love


Thank you, Shab. I so respond to this poem. It speaks in a poetic language that's come to resonate for me deeply. That of Spain's flamenco poetry. In his essays on flamenco poetry Lorca points out how its roots go back to Persian poetry, mentioning Hafez specifically. It would have been one of the many imports the Moors brought with them to Iberia.

Anyway, this is my reference point for responding to the poem. What a beautiful poem. There is something both essential about it and humanly transformative. Something mysterious too. I notice how the speaker, in turn, becomes lover, the loved one, even love itself. I remember a couple of years ago, at least, on Lily's board you showed a fondness for and familiarity with the poetry of L. Cohen. Your Shamloo poem speaks to the same emotional center.

If you feel like it I would love to read your thoughts on what it was like translating the poem.

One more thing, Shabfriend, the poem rather says something about its translator too. Thanks again.

Tere

Last edited by Terreson, Jul/25/2009, 12:38 pm
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Terreson Profile
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Re: Public Love


For anyone interested:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ahmad_Shamlou

&

http://www.shamlu.com/index.htm

Tere

Jul/25/2009, 12:45 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
deepwaters Profile
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Re: Public Love


Chris-

You are right about the censorship of his work. In fact, in light of the unrest in Iran, I keep finding myself drawn to his work which is why I posted it here.

His work is not just censored for political reasons or by officials. An interesting story about his poetry: when my dad passed (a year go, next friday), my sister and I picked a few lines of Shamloo's for the grave stone, here is a careless translation from memory:

I touch you and understand the universe
I think about you and perceive time
suspended
infinite
naked


There was a (quiet) uproar among my dad's brothers. One asked me,'isn't Shamloo an atheist?' and then 'naked? couldn't you replace that with something more appropriate?' As if I could just go ahead and change Shamloo's work. Anyways, my point being that forget about government censorship, my sister and I had to put up a fight (and a compromise - we ended the line at 'infinite') in order to be able to use Shamloo's work. Maybe more than you wanted to know emoticon

I am not certain what you mean by 'different orientation to experience.' Could you elaborate on that point? Thanks.


------------------------------------------
Tere-

I am so happy that the poem speaks to you. It simply delights me to know that. You are so insightful about seeing that emotional similarity between Cohen's and this piece. I see it now.

This is my first time translating anything, let alone poetry. I stayed away from trying to stay faithful to the word-by-word translation. Instead, I tried to communicate the emotional impact of the concepts. Here are a couple of examples of what I mean by that:

1.
I am a common pain
You only scream me


In the Farsi version, the structure is an imperative form saying 'scream me!' First, saying that in Farsi includes three words (and four morphemes, there is an object marker attached to 'me'). Somehow that makes the sentence heavier than 'scream me,' if that makes any sense. And I felt that it sounded more right to have that concept in a heavier, punchier sentence.

In addition, to my sensibility, adding 'only' added an emotional impact that somehow would have been absent in English. Let me know what y'all think about that.

2. One of my favorite parts of this poem is
In a bright solitude, I have cried with you
for the living,
And in a dark graveyard, I have sung with you
the most beautiful ballads
because the dead, this year,
were the most loving among the living.


This was rather hard to translate. I have used 'ballads' but, in the original poem, the word could be used more like a national anthem or a school song. So, I took the liberty of translating it as 'ballad' similarly to the way I took liberty of translating 'the most loving among the living' which is not a word-by-word translation.

I am hoping that these choices work. It was thrilling and frightening to make such choices.

Thanks again for visiting this piece.
-shab
Jul/25/2009, 3:00 pm Link to this post Send Email to deepwaters   Send PM to deepwaters
 
Terreson Profile
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Re: Public Love


Damn, Shabfriend! What a peek into the process you give. Especially since my request, to say the least, is presumptuous.

If I get right what you are saying I would have made the same or similar choices for the same reasons. Your methodology strikes me less as translating and more like trans-literating in order to carry across the emotional impact on the body. Yes/No?

Of course you are making me hungry for more Persian poets who mean something to you.

Thank you so much.

Tere
Jul/25/2009, 4:16 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
Katlin Profile
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Re: Public Love


Hi Shab,

How exciting to learn about a new Persian poet, esecially one who was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

What strikes me most about this poem is its universality and its urgent, tender tone. My favorite lines in the poem are the ones you mentioned:

"In a bright solitude, I have cried with you
for the living,
And in a dark graveyard, I have sung with you
the most beautiful ballads
because the dead, this year,
were the most loving among the living."

The last two lines are exquisite. I was also quite taken by this line:

"I speak to you, my late find"

I enjoyed hearing the story about the poem on your father's headstone as well as your musings on the translation processes. I think we are as new to commenting on translations as you are to writing them, so let us know how we can best serve the poem and you.

Thank you for sharing all of this!
Jul/25/2009, 8:37 pm Link to this post Send Email to Katlin   Send PM to Katlin
 
deepwaters Profile
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Re: Public Love


quote:

Terreson wrote:

Your methodology strikes me less as translating and more like trans-literating in order to carry across the emotional impact on the body. Yes/No?




Yes. In fact, as I re-read this poem, I am realizing that [grass to the desert] doesn't seem to fit here. I will have to think about what to do with it.

I will try to translate something I particularly like from a couple of other poets.

Thanks again.
Jul/29/2009, 12:18 pm Link to this post Send Email to deepwaters   Send PM to deepwaters
 
deepwaters Profile
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Re: Public Love


quote:

Katlin wrote:

"In a bright solitude, I have cried with you
for the living,
And in a dark graveyard, I have sung with you
the most beautiful ballads
because the dead, this year,
were the most loving among the living."

The last two lines are exquisite.



I agree. Particularly in light of what is going on in Iran these days, the last two lines brought tears to my eyes.

quote:

Katlin wrote: I was also quite taken by this line:

"I speak to you, my late find"



ah! you point out another struggling point for me. Shamloo uses a word there that roughly means 'the one whom I found late (implied in life).' I was worried that the way I have it might suggest 'the *latest* one I found.' Do you think I succeeded in expressing his meaning?

Thank you for visiting this piece.

I enjoyed hearing the story about the poem on your father's headstone as well as your musings on the translation processes. I think we are as new to commenting on translations as you are to writing them, so let us know how we can best serve the poem and you.

Thank you for sharing all of this!



Jul/29/2009, 12:24 pm Link to this post Send Email to deepwaters   Send PM to deepwaters
 
Katlin Profile
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Re: Public Love


Hi shab,

Sorry it has taken me so long to get back to you! I hope you are still coming around. You wrote:

"ah! you point out another struggling point for me. Shamloo uses a word there that roughly means 'the one whom I found late (implied in life).' I was worried that the way I have it might suggest 'the *latest* one I found.' Do you think I succeeded in expressing his meaning?"

Yes, I do. That's the exact meaning I took from the line.

Also, I wanted to say that reading this translation has helped me better understand where you are coming from in your own work. I feel like I have a missing piece of context that helps me see your work from a clearer perspective.

Hope to hear more from you soon.



Last edited by Katlin, Aug/27/2009, 8:07 pm
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deepwaters Profile
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Re: Public Love


Thank you for the reply.

I am not sure whether it is a good thing that reading other Iranian poets helps you see better where I come from. It makes me wonder whether my poetry can stand on its own two legs.

I have a couple of other translations that I might post soon. Thanks again.

-s
Oct/29/2009, 10:29 pm Link to this post Send Email to deepwaters   Send PM to deepwaters
 
Terreson Profile
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Re: Public Love


Shabfriend, your poetry indeed has two legs to stand on. And the clue into the tradition in which you work gives the greater context. Please take a look at the note I posted in Discussion I about a new collection of translated poetry by Arab women.

Tere
Oct/30/2009, 6:22 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
Katlin Profile
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Re: Public Love


Shab,


Tere is right: Your poems stand alone. The fact that I was helped by understanding the tradition some of your poetry comes from is a reflection on my limitations and biases as a reader and not a reflection on the quality of your work. I look forward to reading future translations. emoticon

Last edited by Katlin, Oct/31/2009, 1:45 pm
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deepwaters Profile
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Re: Public Love


Tere-

Thank you for pointing me to Discussion I. I will make the relevant comment there. However, I hope you will forgive me for indulging in an irrelevant comment here.

I imagine myself a person who is open minded and free of many biases, including racial ones. And then, I read your comment, and my first impulse is to clarify that I am not Arab, which reminds me of my own underlying prejudice. Complex machines, we are. emoticon

Thanks again.
--------------------------------------------

Katlin-

Thanks for coming back. I am working on a couple of translations, but I am stuck in a few places. Perhaps I should just post them and get help from all of you, which is the idea behind a workshop anyways.
I am going to be out of town for a week, but except to hear from me once I return to my desk emoticon

-s
Nov/2/2009, 11:34 am Link to this post Send Email to deepwaters   Send PM to deepwaters
 
Terreson Profile
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Re: Public Love


Shabfriend says this:

"Thank you for pointing me to Discussion I. I will make the relevant comment there. However, I hope you will forgive me for indulging in an irrelevant comment here.

I imagine myself a person who is open minded and free of many biases, including racial ones. And then, I read your comment, and my first impulse is to clarify that I am not Arab, which reminds me of my own underlying prejudice. Complex machines, we are."

Oh, Shabfriend. I think I know you are not an Arab, not of Semitic stock. I think you've told us your roots are Kurdish, the earlier inhabitants of the area, coming before both the Semitic tribes and the (Caucasian) Persians. I was just thinking of a poetry tradition that, I think, all three racial groups, have kept alive for, what?, almost a thousand years.

Read these poets, if you haven't already. They speak to the thing much better than I can.

Tere
Nov/2/2009, 9:08 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
deepwaters Profile
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Re: Public Love


Dear Tere -

I know that you know my roots, which is why I didn't make the clarification. But, the first impulse came before that knowledge struck me. Anyways, I don't mean to be hijacking the thread into a different direction.

I read your reply to Katlin in that forum. I understand what you mean, and wholeheartedly agree that the big thing here is that they speak to your soul and make a connection. Thank you for nudging me to see beyond the surface.
Nov/10/2009, 2:08 pm Link to this post Send Email to deepwaters   Send PM to deepwaters
 
Terreson Profile
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Oh heck, Shabfriend. You can't hijack the thread. You started it. To where would you feel like taking us now? I am just riffing off you my dear and trying to keep up.

Tere
Nov/10/2009, 8:27 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 


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