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 B 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.