Thursday, September 30, 2010

Translating the Psalms

10-09-24 10:30 Presenter: Nancy deClaissé Walford

Rosenberg, Martin and Zlotowitz, Bernard, The Book of Psalms, 1999 was the first book that dealt with translation that I read in 2006. What good fortune to have immediately an indication that there are bits of the poetry that no one can translate and say it is accurate. Perhaps it was just their opinion, but I thought it was honest to say - we really don't know what this word means or this phrase or what the antecedent is of this pronoun.

Nancy had excellent handouts so I could write many posts on what she presented - and will probably remember her lecture better than many of the others. I have several points of disagreement with her choices and will perhaps come to a few of them. But to be able to disagree is a tribute to the accuracy of her presentation and teaching style.

First - what do you think of this rendering of Psalm 3?

Almighty, my adversaries are countless!
They rise up like weeds in a garden
-one moment they are not there;
the next moment, there are twenty to each flower.
Each weed howls tauntingly,
"God might as well be a fairy-tale for you.
God will not give you help."
But you, Gardener, weed them out.
You deepen my roots in rich soil and moisten my petals with the honeyed dew of morning.
I lean toward you, the Great Sun, and bellow to the Heights.
You answer me from your Holy Place on high.
I lie my body down in deep slumber and then awake.
I have all my energy, no longer facing twenty weeds but tens of thousands!
Awaken, Gardener, and come to my rescue.
Break every weed-stalk in half and pull each one out by its roots.
True liberation comes from God, the Gardener.
His blessings shower His people, His flowers.

This is from a draft for the voice project - the draft was not accepted as the final which I won't type in since it is quite ordinary as translation - whereas, as I typed this, I realized in hearing how much it is like those visual illuminations that I wrote about yesterday. More to come on this lecture. (here) Plus what I think are the problems and characteristics of translating. (here)

From 2010-09-24
Philip Johnston of Cambridge briefly replied - recalling the Italian confession traduttore traditore - translation betrays and noting that there has been an explosion of translations since the early personal ones like Moffatt 1926 and Phillips Letters to Young Churches 1947. Also there is an influence of commerce - always true of books - what will sell?

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