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deepwaters Profile
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Windup Doll (Forough Farrokhzad)


Windup Doll
By Forough Farrokhzad
(from her third volume of poetry: Another Birth)


Beyond all this, yes,
beyond all this, you can remain silent

for long hours, you
with a deadly gaze, still,
can stare at the smoke of a cigarette
or stare at the shape of a cup
at the pale pattern of the carpet
at a vague line on the wall
with stiff claws, you can
pull the curtain to the side, and see
it is pouring outside in the street
a child holds her colorful kite
huddled under the eaves
an old buggy leaves the empty
square in a raucous rush

you can remain
in your spot
by the curtain
but deaf, but blind

you can scream
with a voice fake and foreign
"I love!"
you can be wrapped
in the strength of his dominant muscles
a beautiful healthy female
with a body like a spread feast
with two large firm breasts
you can be in bed with a drunk, a hobo, a madman
and stain the purity of love

you can be witty, and mock
every striking puzzle
can solve only crossword puzzles
or be satisfied with finding answers to worthless questions
worthless, yes, five letters, maybe six

you can kneel all your life
head hanging in shame, by an altar
can see God in some unknown grave
can find faith with a copper coin
can rot in the altars of some temple
like an old ziaratnamekhan*

you can be zero, giving out constant
consistent answers in every math equation
can have eyes wrapped in his hate, yet faded
like a button on an old shoe,
in your own puddle, can dry out like water

you can hide a moment’s beauty with shame
like a silly black and white photo
hide it at the bottom of a chest
can hang in an empty frame
the picture of a convict, a lost warrior, or a crucified
can cover the holes in the wall with figurines
can hang even more banal images

you can be like a windup doll
and see the world with two glass eyes
in a mahogany box
with a body filled with hay
you can sleep covered in chiffon and lace
for years,
and with every lewd squeeze of a hand
you can mindlessly scream:
“oh, I am so happy”


----------
* Refers to people who say prayers for you, or read holy books, and you pay them a little. They basically live under the charity of the mosque, but they are not a certified religious figure.

Last edited by deepwaters, Feb/1/2010, 4:41 pm
Jan/5/2010, 1:33 pm Link to this post Send Email to deepwaters   Send PM to deepwaters
 
Terreson Profile
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Re: Windup Doll


I've read this poet somewhere and I can't remember where. I remember her name and the outline of her story.

Two readings, Shabfriend, and I am way too into the poem to talk smart or intelligent about it or about your translation. I am slow that way. Give me a few more readings please. It sets off a whole lot of nerve receptors. I got to work my way through back to the surface.

Stick around please or check back in. I got to talk. This poem speaks to every woman who has ever lived in an unfriendly clime. This thing rocks me but I got to think.

In addition to putting it here for discussion would you mind posting it to Gaia's Gown or give me permission to copy it to there?

I'll be back less enthusiastically. (It's a work night.)

Tere
Jan/5/2010, 8:04 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
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Re: Windup Doll


Third reading. For me at least this poem sets a standard.

Tere
Jan/5/2010, 11:56 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
deepwaters Profile
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Re: Windup Doll


quote:

In addition to putting it here for discussion would you mind posting it to Gaia's Gown or give me permission to copy it to there?



Please feel free to copy it to Gaia's Gown, if you think it would serve a purpose there.

quote:

For me at least this poem sets a standard.



That's great to hear, Tere. She has inspired me all my life, and to hear you say that makes me feel like I did her justice so that her words come through and make an impact in English as well.

As you see, this is only my second translation work, but I think I am going to work on a couple of other poems of hers, and see whether it makes sense to work towards a collection of her poems.
Jan/6/2010, 3:13 pm Link to this post Send Email to deepwaters   Send PM to deepwaters
 
Katlin Profile
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Re: Windup Doll


Shab,

Forough Farrokhzad and her work are new to me. Thank you! Although this is only your second translation, I think it is quite strong. Of course I can't compare it to the original, I can only say that this English version captures my attention. The subject is a powerful one, due in no small part to Farrohhzad's precision and honesty.

I really like the sound work throughout. In S2, for example, all the s and p sounds, the last line ending "in a raucous rush."

"pull the curtain to the side, and see" perhaps use "aside"?

"it is pouring outside in the street
a child holds her colorful kite
huddled under the eaves
an old buggy leaves the empty
square in a raucous rush"

If these are a series of things being seen, then perhaps it should be "holding" and "leaving" but I think it works as it is.

I don't know what a striking puzzle is in these lines:

"you can be witty, and mock
every striking puzzle"

alter=altar

"like an old ziaratnamekhan* No wonder you had to stick with a foreign word; there is no equivalent I can think of in English.

"like a silly blank and white photo"=black and white?

Wow, the ending is a killer.

I agree with Tere: you have raised the bar with this poem. It reminds me in tone and tenor of the poems Tere posted from that Arab women's anthology. These are poems that say, "Listen up. Pay attention. What's at stake? Everything." I can tell from your translation that the original poem is exceptional, which means you are doing it justice. I think you have a knack for this work, and I'm glad you're doing it.

 
Jan/6/2010, 6:30 pm Link to this post Send Email to Katlin   Send PM to Katlin
 
deepwaters Profile
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Re: Windup Doll


Katlin-

Typos corrected. I am glad you like this poem. I posted it on Facebook, and got a couple of comments from native speakers that it evokes the same feelings for them in English - which pleases me to no end.

quote:


I really like the sound work throughout. In S2, for example, all the s and p sounds, the last line ending "in a raucous rush."


Thank you! I reworked that stanza a few times.

quote:

"pull the curtain to the side, and see" perhaps use "aside"?


yes, I like that.

quote:

"it is pouring outside in the street
a child holds her colorful kite
huddled under the eaves
an old buggy leaves the empty
square in a raucous rush"

If these are a series of things being seen, then perhaps it should be "holding" and "leaving" but I think it works as it is.



They are descriptions, but since she has everything in present tense including "it is raining", I decided to have the descriptions in present tense too. But, I am not too attached to not using gerunds.


quote:

I don't know what a striking puzzle is in these lines:

"you can be witty, and mock
every striking puzzle"



The word I was needing was something that means amazing, or wonderful as in 7 wonders of the world. I think the point is to have crosswords at one end of the spectrum and amazing/important puzzles at the other. I am not totally happy with "striking" so if you have any thoughts, I would be grateful to hear it.

quote:

I agree with Tere: you have raised the bar with this poem. It reminds me in tone and tenor of the poems Tere posted from that Arab women's anthology. These are poems that say, "Listen up. Pay attention. What's at stake? Everything." I can tell from your translation that the original poem is exceptional, which means you are doing it justice. I think you have a knack for this work, and I'm glad you're doing it.



Hard to describe how wonderful it is to hear this. "Listen up. Pay attention. What's at stake? Everything." is exactly what this poem means to me.

Your encouragement is already working; I am looking at a well-known poem of hers. Frankly, if you ask most people to recite FF, the poem above would not be what you would hear. So, I hope to introduce more well-known works of hers to the board.

Thanks again.
-s
Jan/7/2010, 6:20 am Link to this post Send Email to deepwaters   Send PM to deepwaters
 
Terreson Profile
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Re: Windup Doll


Shabfriend I am finally able to articulate the really big thing the poem, through you, brings to me. Please see my comment down in the Gaia forum where I've copied the poem. This is the kind of essential poetry I am forever looking for. I cannot intelligently speak to the mechanics of the translation. But something has to be working for the poem to come through the way it does.

Tere
Jan/7/2010, 6:49 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
deepwaters Profile
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Re: Windup Doll


I couldn't agree with you more. For me, she has always been something special.
Jan/7/2010, 7:00 pm Link to this post Send Email to deepwaters   Send PM to deepwaters
 
Katlin Profile
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Re: Windup Doll


The word I was needing was something that means amazing, or wonderful as in 7 wonders of the world. I think the point is to have crosswords at one end of the spectrum and amazing/important puzzles at the other. I am not totally happy with "striking" so if you have any thoughts, I would be grateful to hear it.

Hmm, this is a puzzle in itself! emoticon I tried looking up synonyms of amazing and wondrous:

astonishing
astounding
awe-inspiring
awesome
marvelous
mystifying

Not sure if any of these adjectives captures the essence of the original, but maybe they will trigger something.
Jan/8/2010, 8:01 pm Link to this post Send Email to Katlin   Send PM to Katlin
 
deepwaters Profile
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Re: Windup Doll


Katlin-

Yes, the words you suggest do trigger something. I am playing with "astonishing" on my tongue to see how it tastes. Thank you!
Jan/9/2010, 4:52 pm Link to this post Send Email to deepwaters   Send PM to deepwaters
 
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Re: Windup Doll (Forough Farrokhzad)


Tere and I had an exchange on another thread about faithfulness to the original poem. I looked for some translations of Forough's work (she is probably the only Iranian female poet whose first name can be used in a discussion). I am pasting a full (much more faithful) translation of Windup Doll that I found, after I paste a couple of other examples for comparison. The reason, for the first set of examples being only segments of the piece, is that I found some translation examples in reviews, but the only full length translation I found is pasted below.

found on a review page
More than this, ah yes,
one can remain silent more than this.

For hours and hours
with the vacant stare of a corpse,
one can gaze at cigarette smoke,
at the shape of a tea cup
at a faded flower in a carpet,
at an imaginary line on the wall.

shab’s
Beyond all this, yes,
beyond all this, you can remain silent

for long hours, you
with a deadly gaze, still,
can stare at the smoke of a cigarette
or stare at the shape of a cup
at the pale pattern of the carpet
at a vague line on the wall

----

found on a page promoting works of Sholeh Wolpe and her translation works

One can spend a lifetime kneeling
head bowed
before the cold altar of the Imams,
find God inside an anymous grave ...

One can evaporate like water from one's own gutter.

Shab’s
you can kneel all your life
head hanging in shame, by an altar
can see God in some unknown grave
can find faith with a copper coin
can rot in the altars of some temple
like an old ziaratnamekhan*
you can be zero, giving out constant
consistent answers in every math equation
can have eyes wrapped in his hate, yet faded
like a button on an old shoe,
in your own puddle, can dry out like water

----
Here is the full translation I found, which I believe is much more faithful to the original than I am:
The Windup Doll
I believe the translator is Almad Karimi-Hakkak


More than this, yes
more than this one can stay silent.

With a fixed gaze
like that of the dead
one can stare for long hours
at the smoke rising from a cigarette
at the shape of a cup
at a faded flower on the rug
at a fading slogan on the wall.

 One can draw back the drapes
with wrinkled fingers and watch
rain falling heavy in the alley
a child standing in a doorway
holding colorful kites
a rickety cart leaving the deserted square
in a noisy rush

 One can stand motionless
by the drapes—blind, deaf.

 One can cry out
with a voice quite false, quite remote
“I love…”
in a man’s domineering arms
one can be a healthy, beautiful female

With a body like a leather tablecloth
with two large and hard breasts,
in bed with a drunk, a madman, a tramp
one can stain the innocence of love.

One can degrade with guile
all the deep mysteries
one can keep on figuring out crossword puzzles
happily discover the inane answers
inane answers, yes—of five or six letters.

With bent head, one can
kneel a lifetime before the cold gilded grill of a tomb
one can find God in a nameless grave
one can trade one’s faith for a worthless coin
one can mold in the corner of a mosque
like an ancient reciter of pilgrim’s prayers.
one can be constant, like zero
whether adding, subtracting, or multiplying.
one can think of your --even your—eyes
in their cocoo of anger
as lusterless holes in a time-worn shoe.
one can dry up in one’s basin, like water.

 With shame one can hide the beauty of a moment’s togetherness
at the bottom of a chest
like an old, funny looking snapshot,
in a day’s empty frame one can display
the picture of an execution, a crucifixion, or a martyrdom,
One can cover the crake in the wall with a mask
one can cope with images more hollow than these.

 One can be like a wind-up doll
and look at the world with eyes of glass,
one can lie for years in lace and tinsel
a body stuffed with straw
inside a felt-lined box,
at every lustful touch
for no reason at all
one can give out a cry
“Ah, so happy am I!”’


Last edited by deepwaters, Jan/10/2010, 3:58 pm
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deepwaters Profile
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Re: Windup Doll (Forough Farrokhzad)


hi all -

I just had my sister read this thread's poem translated by me, and the one immediately above. I have gotten good feedback from native speakers on the poem, but no comparative analysis.

My sister, another native speaker of Farsi, pointed out to me that Hakkak's translation (whom she apparently knows) does not ring feminine to her the way the original does. She said that the first translation's rhythm is close to the persian reading of forough and also, echoes of a feminine voice.

Here is my question: as naive speakers of English, does this difference in gender voice exist for you as well?
-s
Jan/21/2010, 8:16 pm Link to this post Send Email to deepwaters   Send PM to deepwaters
 
Terreson Profile
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Now here is a question to make a slow Cracker have to think.

I would say the answer is yes. My two all time favorite women writers are Colette and Anais Nin. I believe I've read just about everything Colette wrote that has been translated into English, including her vignettes and her non-fiction. And the main attraction for me is precisely her supremely feminine voice, and I mean that in the most expansive way possible, not reductively. She impacted me so much that I was incited to make a collection of short stories and vignettes back in '85, my second collection of such. And there is a marked difference between the two collections because of her. My other all time favorite woman writer, Anais Nin, impacted me equally as much. I first read her "Cities of the Interior" when in my early twenties. A little over a decade later I wanted to make a novel whose main character was a woman. Her name was Ena and her portrait I thought of as that of a natural beauty, a Venus Naturalis as opposed to a Venus Coelestis (celestial) type of beauty, or an earth grown beauty. But in order to tell her story I had to draw on the feminine in me, my x chromosome maybe. And I remembered Nin's approach and it became my model for how to proceed with Ena. (funny thing is that I fell so much in love with Ena I decided to never subject her to the stupidities of publishers and their editors.)

Here is what I am trying to get to. For me, and just me, the feminine voice proceeds, creates from the inside out, from the inside of things, places, and characters as it all, layer by layer, unfolds. While I am emphatically not saying men writers can't do the same (Flaubert did, so did James Baldwin), their tendancy is just the opposite. Proceeding from the outside looking in (like Turgenev and Tolstoy, certainly Hemingway). To me the distinction is perceptual. Without question their is a gender difference in how experience gets taken in. One more thing maybe. I am not saying that a woman writer is limited to the feminine voice only. Colette said it best when talking about her third husband, Maurice. She said he kept coming back to her after an affair because she was enough of a man they could be good friends too. George Eliot also comes to mind whose women she portrayed without the slightest bit of sympathy, very clinical. So does the little known writer, Agnes Smedley, whose journalistic stories of Chinese women in a time of revolution are keenly sharp.

So when you ask your question this is what comes to mind. Whether or not it describes a universal expressed in all languages I don't know. But your not so small comment piques my interest.

Sorry all for the post's length. Shabfriend got me to thinking.

Tere
Jan/23/2010, 4:22 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
deepwaters Profile
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Thanks, Tere. It is an interesting issue for me to look at, this gender voice. What I specifically was wondering was whether you hear a difference in the two translations above. In other words, if you did not know where they came from would you hear a feminine echo in one and not the other?
-s
Jan/27/2010, 2:53 pm Link to this post Send Email to deepwaters   Send PM to deepwaters
 
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Shabfriend, that was my long winded way of saying I did.

Tere
Jan/27/2010, 8:38 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
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Sorry, Tere, for being dense there. I only caught the generalities. Thanks for responding.
Jan/28/2010, 6:39 pm Link to this post Send Email to deepwaters   Send PM to deepwaters
 


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