Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Poems about Translation 13: Gloss/Clós/Glas

For all translators up late this evening, the latest instalment in our 'poems about translation' series is Eiléan ní Chuilleanáin's wonderful 'Gloss/Clós/Glas', from the collection The Girl Who Married the Reindeer.  

The poem's opening lines echo an ancient Irish poem about the scholar/translator and his cat quoted in a previous instalment of the series:
Look at the scholar, he has still not gone to bed,
Raking the dictionaries, darting at locked presses,
Hunting for keys. He stacks the books to his oxter,
Walks across the room as stiff as a shelf.
His mission: to find two words
[...] as close as the note
On the uilleann pipe to the same note on the fiddle -
As close as the grain in the polished wood, as the finger
Bitten by the string, as the hairs of the bow
Bent by the repeated note [...] 
He must work until '[t]he rags of language are streaming like weathervanes,/ Like weeds in water'...

This magical poem in full can be found here.

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