Monday, December 22, 2008

Sorrow (ΛΥΠΗ)

“Sorrow,” from Another Song I Know, is the fourth of my short poems1 translated into Greek by Vassilis Zambaras. The other three, “Thin Ice,” “Seeds,” and “Love,” can be found here, here, and here.

This time, I’ve decided to do something a little different and present the poem without the English original. Some of you, I know, already have the book2 and can compare the English and Greek versions. But my hope here is that readers will take a moment to really look at the Greek letters, and study them as you might have studied bird tracks when you were a child, snowflakes, or the palm of your hand. Let your mind wander through them as if they were symbols in a dream. Then, turn to the transliteration that follows, and, with the help of the pronunciation guide, see if you can’t actually “hear” what Vassilis has done.

If you feel you don’t have the patience for such a thing, or that it’s silly or a waste of time, you might ask yourself why.

If one doesn’t read or understand a particular alphabet or language, it doesn’t necessarily mean there are not things about them that can still be understood. Conversely, if one is fluent, there is the distinct possibility, perhaps even likelihood, that the alphabet and language in question are taken for granted, and therefore not fully noticed or appreciated.


Το τραγούδι του ανέμου
καθώς σκορπίζει
κρύα, χλωμή στάχτη.

To traghoύdhi tou anέmou
κathόs skorpίzi
κrίa, hlomί stάhti.

1 Available from Cosmopsis Books, San Francisco (2007).
2 For those who don’t, the publisher’s price and service is still the best available.

Greek translation and transliteration © 2008 by Vassilis Zambaras. Published here with the poet’s kind permission.

Vowel pronunciation guide: i as in letter “e”; e as in “eh” — without “h” sound; a as in “ma”; o as in “OK”; ou as in “balloon”.

In the Forum: Blind Intellect, an educated band that plays no instruments.

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