Translation of George Seferis “Epiphany ”
There is something about translating a poem from a different language, that brings you inside the words, forces you to go around them, and clearly delineate them. As Scott Griffin has recently said, a translation causes you to “recreate the original work of poetry” into its’ twin born by the translator, which contains the combinations of letters that replicate the poem in strands, one by one, genetically, like DNA. This is my translation of what I believe is a very beautiful and very original poem.. “Epiphany” by George Seferis. At the end of the poem is a link to a very relevant, and interesting lecture on Seferis and his work.
The blossoming expanse
And the mountains,
Drowned in the crescent moon.
The large stone
By red flowering cactus and white asphodel,
And that urn that
Refused to stand upright
At the end of the day.
And the cloistered bed
Near the cypress trees,
And your hair golden
As the celestial swan stars of the heavens,
And that one single star Aldebaran.
I held and kept my life,
And kept my life
In amongst the yellow trees
Towards the one side of the rain,
On the silent shores
Loaded with the piles of leaves of autumn,
With no fire in their midst, at their peaks.
The darkness is falling.
I held and kept my life.
At your right hand is a line,
And a gash is at your knee.
Would they still be there
In the sands of the now past summer ?
Would they remain there
In the gusts of the northern winds, as I hear the foreign voices round the frozen lake ?
The faces I see do not ask, neither does the woman walking, hunched over, breastfeeding her child.
I climb the mountains,
Into the dark pines.
The snow filled valley,
So far across, the snow filled valley; nothing do they ask. Neither the times brought to a close …Neither the hands that stretch out to ask, to beg;
and the roads … I held and kept my life in a constant murmuring, in silence unending. I don’t know how to speak anymore, how to contemplate the murmurs that are so like the breathing of the cypress trees that night, like the humanlike voice of the night waters on the pebbled shore.
Like the memory of your voice saying…”happiness, bliss”.
I close my eyes seeking the secret and mystic meeting of the waters under ice, the laughing smile of the oceans, the hidden deep wellsprings, high flowing in my veins; those veins which seek to spirit away to the places where the water lilies end, to that place where that man wanders blind on the snows of silence. I held, I held, and kept my life, with him, yearning for the waters that so lightly brush and caress against your body, heavy drops on green leaves; on your face… in the empty garden. Drops on the still wellspring, find a dead Cygnet In between its pure white wings. The trees are alive, and your eyes, facing towards the sun. This road will not end. There can be no change in it. As much as you wish for, as you hope for, a remembrance of your childhood, for those who have left, for those that were lost in their sleep…that ever, ever, endless expanse of tombs; as much as you ask for the bodies, the forms that you once loved, to bend below the harsh boughs of the plane trees, at that place where a single ray of sunlight stood naked, and the dog bolted, and your heart fluttered; this journey cannot be changed. I held and kept my life….the snow and the water frozen, in hoof tracks of horses in earth.
On Seferis: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=5s_312nScyo