Friday, July 13, 2012

Poetry Friday--The Same, Yet Different

Last week I wrote about The Sea and the Honeycomb: A Book of Tiny Poems edited by Robert Bly. One of the poems I didn't include in that post is this one:

The moon has set
and the Pleiades;
midnight, hours pass, and I
lie down alone

Translated by David Leviten

Coincidently, on the same day, I came across this poem in Acquainted With the Night: Insomnia Poems edited by Lisa Russ Spaar:
Tonight I've Watched
by Sappho (translated from the Greek by Mary Barnard)

Tonight I've watched

The moon and then
the Pleiades
go down

The night is now
half-gone; youth
goes; I am

in bed alone

It jumped right out at me as being the same, yet different.

I offer them both to you to contemplate as I did.

I prefer the first one with its utter simplicity. Which do you prefer? Does it make a difference knowing the author was not an "unknown ancient Greek," but a woman poet?

Jone at Check It Out will have lots more to contemplate at the Round-Up.



Mary Lee said...

Wow! Those two poems really "talk" to each other, don't they?!?!

Linda at teacherdance said...

Well, one might say the translator got it wrong in one of two places, possibly the first who preferred the more open-ended story. I think I also prefer it because it lets my imagination of why alone can then run wild. With the other, a different story emerges. Great find, Diane! Thank you!

Diane Mayr said...

Thanks, ladies! It must be terribly difficult to be a translator--not only do you have to do the mechanics, but you also have to know the culture, AND, have the soul of a poet, too!

Ruth said...

I like the second one better. I like the "I've watched" since it puts me in the mind of the poet more, I think.