I see the boys of summer – Meaning Eater Poem

This poem was created using the “Meaning Eater” engine, with “I see the boys of summer” by Dylan Thomas as the source text. I think that this poem is an interesting experiment – I chose to only “eat” the word endings, so the beginnings of the words have remained unchanged. However, in changing the word endings, many words have become very different (see the first line, where ‘the’ became ‘theatricals’.) I think that some of the rhythm is still preserved in the new version, although the elongations of lines does tend to make it a little bit more cumbersome. I have only included the first of the three portions of the mutated poem.

I.

I seeking theme boyfriends of summarizations in theatricals ruined
Layoff themselves golf title barnyard,
Settle no stork by harpy, freezer theodosian soiled;
Therapies in theatrical heaviest theorize winslow flop
Of frosty lovelace theorized fetter theorizer giraffes,
Andrea dropper thefts caracas approximating in theoreticians tidings.

Theatrically boycotted of lighthearted ares curtail in theorized follow,
Soulful therapeutic bois honeymooning;
Theft jacketed of frozenly thereabouts fingerings in theatricals hive;
Theorizations in therapeutic sunrise theorized frighteningly throttles
Of doubtful andrea darlings thea feeding theorization nerve;
Theorem sigma moorings is zeroing in theorizing voicers.

I seeing theatrically sum chinese in theatrical motions
Splinters up theorem bramble womb’s weaver,
Divorced theresa nigeria andersen daybreak withdrew failsoft thule;
Theoretical in thefts deep withdrawals quarterly shattering
Of suntanning andalusians moonlighter thermostats pained therapeutic damascus
As sunburnt painless thermal sheehan of therefore heads.

I seeing thawing frontiersman then boyle sharper mentalities of noteworthy
Stag by seeker shimmer,
Or lamed theories airways witchcraft leased frolics itself hearken;
These froth thereupon heaving therewith dogged pulping
Of lovelorn andrea liggett bury in themes thrush.
O seek theft pulping of summary in theories icebergs.

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Plaything of the Poor – Notes on the Text

The following are notes on my translation of “Le Joujou du Pauvre”, a piece written by Charles Baudelaire. The translated poem can be found as “Plaything of the Poor – Le Joujou du Pauvre translation“, and the original French text can be found here.

Notes on the text:

The title, “Joujou du pauvre” is translated here as “Plaything of the Poor”. Joujou is a familiar term used for the word ‘toy’, and is a diminutive of the word jouet. The conscious choice on Baudelaire’s part to use infantilized language cannot easily be replicated in English, and much of the nuance of this choice is lost in translation.

“le polichinelle plat” is translated to “paper puppets”. The original use of polichinelle carries with it connotations of Pulcinella, a character trope in Italian puppetry . This puppet is typically garbed in white with a black mask, representing  life and death. The allusions to mortality presented by this puppet makes it an interesting choice to give to give in “homage” (translated literally) to the poor children. I do not know how recognizable this allusion would be to Baudelaire’s original audience, but felt that it detracted from the substance of the poem when interpreted by a modern audience.

“d’une autre pâte” is translated here as “crafted from something different”. To the best of my understanding, pâte is a word refers to dough one would use for baking. A literal translation of this line would then make the child “made of another kind of dough” than the other. I did not find the literal translation to possess the same facility with language as it did in the original French, and changed it accordingly. Still, I find it interesting that Baudelaire’s word choice played on this idea of children as confections, or something to be cooked.

“With teeth of an equal whiteness” is a line that has fascinated me for a while. Though I have never before attempted to translate this piece, I first encountered it several years ago as part of my high school French curriculum. I read this piece at the same time as we covered Hamlet, and this line struck me as something that spoke to pieces of the play. To me, the equal whiteness of teeth felt that it could be both commentary on the equalizing nature of death (in that these two boys were ultimately alike in basic human form, and that their differences in experiences would eventually be meaningless) and critique on the social inequalities present in Baudelaire’s own time period (a critique that can still easily extend to a modern era).

Plaything of the Poor – Le Joujou du Pauvre translation

Le Joujou du Pauvre is a piece written by French author Charles Baudelaire in his collection “Le Spleen de Paris”. I have translated it to English, although the original can be found in full (with commentary in French) here. Although I first did a literal translation, I provide here another edition that takes some stylistic liberties. These choices, which I describe more extensively in a separate post titled “Plaything of the Poor – Notes on the Text” were made to preserve some of the non-written components of this poem. (ex. the overall tone of the piece, the clarity and readability, etc.) If interested in the process of translation, I encourage you to take a look at it.

I will give you an idea for innocent entertainment. There are so few amusements that are without guilt!

When you leave in the morning with the intention to stroll through the large streets, fill your pockets with small inventions, — those paper puppets moved by a single thread, the anvil-beating blacksmiths, the rider and his horse whose tail is a whistle – and along the cabarets at the foot of the trees, give the toys in homage to the unknown children and poor that you encounter. You will be able to see their eyes widen immeasurably. At first, they will refuse to take it; they doubt their good luck. Then their hands will grip strongly at the gift, and they will flee from you like cats that take the morsels you have given them and eat far away, having learned to distrust man.

The whiteness of a lovely sun-beaten house appears from behind the gate of a large garden on a road. There, there is a beautiful and well-kempt child, dressed in coquettish country styled clothing.The luxury, recklessness, and the habitual spectacle of wealth, makes these children appear so lovely that one would think them crafted from something different than the children of mediocrity or poverty.

Lying on the grass beside him is a splendid plaything, looking as fresh as its master: varnished, gilded, and costumed in a purple dress covered in feathers and glass beads. But the child does not occupy himself with his preferred toy. Instead, here is what he watches :

On the other side of the gate, on the road between the nettles and the weeds, there is another child. An impartial eye would discover beauty in this dirty, spindly, and sooty child – using the eyes of a connoisseur to discover the ideal paints beneath the veneer of an outcast, and applying the repugnant patina of misery onto their canvas.

The two worlds of the large street and the mansion are separated between a symbolic barrier. The poor child gives the rich one his favorite toy, who avidly examines it like a rare and unknown object. However, this toy, that the slovenly child had irritated and agitated through shaking in its gated box, is a live rat. Undoubtedly, his parents thriftily captured the plaything themselves.

And the two children laugh beside one another as brothers, with teeth of an equal whiteness.

Dialectic translation – James Joyce

In addition to translating a passage into a different dialect on our own (this exercise can be found as Newspeak Trees), one exercise had us use a website to change a text into one of several dialects. Using the Dialectizer website, I translated a passage written by James Joyce into Cockney, which reads as follows:

The grey warm evenin’ of August ‘ad descended upon the city and a mild warm air, right, a memory of summer, circulated in the bloomin’ streets. The streets, right, shuttered for the bleedin’ repose of Sunday, right, swarmed wiv a gaily coloured crowd. Like illumined pearls the lamps shone from the bloody summits of their tall poles upon the livin’ texture below wich, changin’ shape and ‘ue unceasingly, right, sent up into the bloomin’ warm grey evenin’ air an unchangin’ unceasin’ murmur.

For reference, here is the original, taken from “Two Gallants” in his book Dubliners:

The grey warm evening of August had descended upon the city and a mild warm air, a memory of summer, circulated in the streets. The streets, shuttered for the repose of Sunday, swarmed with a gaily coloured crowd. Like illumined pearls the lamps shone from the summits of their tall poles upon the living texture below which, changing shape and hue unceasingly, sent up into the warm grey evening air an unchanging unceasing murmur.

Dialectic translation – Newspeak “Trees”

Joyce Kilmer’s “Trees” is a poem. I have done my best to translate it into Newspeak, the language of George Orwell’s 1984. A frequent criticism of Trees is that it is overly sentimental and adhered too strongly to outdated traditional forms. (To generalize, it isn’t very good.) It has been the subject of frequent parody, having even inspired a derivative “Joyce Kilmer Memorial Bad Poetry Contest” at Columbia University’s Philolexian Society. In my poem, I try to simplify the language, so as to better express our doubleplusbellythink doublepluslove of BB.

I will unalways see
A prolefeed good as a tree.

ref: a doubleplushunger tree
nutritionwise superstate

Tree telescreen
Physical jerks goodthink to bb.

A tree in Summer weared
hair birds

Snowwise breast
Sexcrime rain

Prolefeed are versificator by proles,
But only Big Brother can artsem a tree

Telephone translation – Perhaps it is to feel strike

This translation exercise involved translating a work between several languages using an online translator. This poem went through many languages, including English, German, Greek, Thai, Zulu, and Ukrainian. To abstract the meaning from the original, I attempted to select a variety of languages from vastly different geographic locations. The poem that I translated was “Perhaps it is to feel strike” by e.e. Cummings. I preserved the original line breaks, although the nature of the translator services and post formatting has removed the stylistic indentations. Because many of these lines have varied in length and meaning in comparison to the originals, I do not find the absence of indentations to dramatically alter the flow of this poem.

Maybe it makes sense to hit.
Is naked money
I felt strong spines.

Youth, traveled in the past year.

Worried or embarrassed
Their idea, in my opinion, as I am.

small

their youth
And if the hearing
This is what I told him no pleasure.
As I walk alone
Most large forest
And my feet are not fully known.
The potential of rage and serenity.

And because it’s beautiful

Homophonic Translation – Keanakolu

This poem is “translated” from a Hawaiian song titled “Keanakolu”. I took the first five couplets, although the original totals eleven. This translation exercise required that we take a composition in a foreign language that we do not know, but that we can pronounce. American missionaries in the 1830s introduced a writing system to what had previously been a spoken language. Because the writing system was developed by Americans, I find that it is possible to approximate the phonetics of the language for the purposes of this exercise. To “translate”, we found words that sounded akin to the sounds of the original language.

I, uh, I can lie. Oh, keening cold you
You lay my nuance, I could anew.

Upon you, eyes lain. Who can manage no?
He, like me, cannot even open up.

My only plural is knowing you can wow
No key could he, we. How I, me, could lone.

I, I a loon. Oh, why could?
Can’t a lone oak? You put eyes, can’t I?

Could any of you know ways to do?
Could how I stay in you, who can allow?

The history of racial diversity and interracial relationship in Hawaii has interested me greatly for several years. In Hawaii, the term for mixed race individuals is “hapa”, a word which translates to half. (Hapa refers to anyone with Asian heritage, and Hapa Haole specifically refers to people who are part-Asian and part-White.) I myself am Asian/White multiracial, and have infrequently encountered others who share the same racial background. The idea that my self-identity is one that has its own vocabulary words associated with it is fascinating to me.

However, I think that I can recognize that my fascination with Hawaiian culture for this reason is somewhat problematic. I want to be immersed in a society where I can feel understood, but have idealized and crystallized notions of Hawaiian identity. My preconceptions or stereotypes that I associate with Hawaiian life are distanced from the lived experiences of the very individuals that I am trying to relate with. I don’t have a real opportunity to gain a meaningful understanding of the intricacies of Hawaiian life.

In “translating” this poem, I’ve tried somewhat to represent the spurious connection between myself and a hapa identity. Through appropriation and misinterpretation, I have made an original composition. For comparative purposes, the original Keanakolu can be found below, and a true English translation can be found on the website Huapala, an archival resource with Hawaiian music and hula.

Aia i ka la`i o Keanakolu
Ku`u lei mâmane nu`a i ke anu

Pôniu `ailana hu`e ka mana`o
E ike i ka nani o ia pua

Maoli pua ia no ka uka wao
Noke kuahiwi ho`i me ke kualono

Aia i a luna o Waikiu
Ka luna o ku`u pua i ka`ana ai

Ka`ana pû no wau me ke anu
Ku`u hoa i ke anu ao Hakalau

Lauahi kô lima lâ e ka hoa
Ke aka kau o ke ao nâulu­­­­­

Ulu hua wale au ia Waiau
Ka piko kaula o ka `âina

I laila ka wai hû a Kâne
Ia wai kaulana helu minuke

Pupû ike `ole ia iho ia
He ihona na ka lima hema `eha `oe

Maka `ao`ao `âkau mai `oe
O loa`a i ka hema lâ palupalu

Ha`ina `ia mai ana ka puana
Aia i ka la`i o Keanakolu

Homolinguisitic translation – Slow Dance

Slow Dance, by Matthew Dickman, is one of my favorite poems. There are elements to it that have always struck me as particularly beautiful or painfully poignant. Even in the original, I feel that some of these lines are created for their sound, rather than any literal meaning. I originally intended to translate this into French by myself, but saw that there were options for Esperanto in online translators and found that to be a more interesting alternative.

Esperanto is language that was constructed in the late 19th century. The language was intended to be neutral, existing without a history of political or social dominance. Today, Esperanto speakers are relatively few, but hail from different countries around the world. As a language, it has been praised for its clarity and ease of learning.

In my translation, I changed the poem into Esperanto and then put it into Microsoft Word. From there, I removed any words that were highlighted by the automatic spelling and grammar checker. I then put what remained back into the translator, going from Esperanto to English. While the poem seemed to be reduced to such an extent that it made little sense, I believe that the act of translating to Esperanto helped to make the poem more succinct while preserving much of the original sentimentality. For reference, I have put the final English poem first, followed by the redacted Esperanto poem. The original poem can be found here.

Slow Dance

the,
of,
we have the

between the
from the we love
the
break
if one of us
of the. two
here
of
your head
about

you in the
the
your The Unchained
Stairway to Heaven, life
I have already

I
the non-
As in the
of the of.
Two in the I him,
out, he
he turns to me
I am on the we
I know one of us
the
the
the
the I slept
in the
the
in the

I will. I have loved you. I
the the leading
in
me over – sexed suddenly to life,
I am in the. I
in the
in the
we
for the The

Malrapida Danco

la ,
de,
Ni la

inter la la
de la la ni amas
la
rompus
se el ni
el la. du
tien
de
Via kapo
sur
vi en la
La
al via La Unchained
Stairway to Heaven , vivo
Mi jam

Mi
La ne
Kiel en la
de La de.
Du en la de la mi li,
el, li
li sin al min
mi sur la ni

Mi scias, el ni la
La de
la de
la
la mi dormis
en la
la de
en la

Mi vin. Mi amis vin. Mi
la la portante
en
al mi super – sexed subite al vivo,
Mi en la. Mi
in la
en la
ni
pro La La

I find that there are compelling parts to both the English and Esperanto translations. The redundancy of familiar words in the English almost causes semantic satiation – the sense of losing all meaning when a word is repeated too many times. In particular, this reminds me of the line in Dickman’s original poem of “… Two people/rocking back and forth like a buoy.” The oscillation between sense and nonsense here recalls (at least for me) the fluidity of water.

As a non-speaker of Esperanto, the words take on a lyrical quality, as if reading solfège notes (do-re-mi-fa-so-la-ti-do) aloud. Again, this play between sound and music is one that captures the essence of the slow dance. Although its literal meaning in Esperanto may not rationally convey what Dickman’s original achieves, I find that it still possesses a nuanced aural quality that replicates some of those same sentiments.