Re: Interpreting dead people's creative works (was: Riddles ...)

Date: Fri Jan 05 2001 - 12:17:03 MST

Chris Hibbert writes:
> Another good example of translated poetry is in the work of Stanislaw Lem,
> translated from Polish to English. The Cyberiad has two robots engaging in
> a poetry duel. One is challenged to write "a poem about a haircut! But
> lofty, nobel, tragic, timeless, full of love, treachery, retribution, quiet
> heroism in the face of certain doom! Six lines, cleverly rhymed, and every
> word beginning with the letter "s"!" Of course he succeeds and it's quite
> a good poem, but when you've read it and thought about it, you end up
> wondering about the translation and the original text. The Translator may
> have had good material to work with but he still did a brilliant job of
> communicating the sense of it.

I've often wondered about this as well. The poem is nicely done and widely
quoted on the net:

     Seduced, shaggy Samson snored.
     She scissored short. Sorely shorn,
     Soon shackled slave, Samson sighed,
     Silently scheming,
     Sightlessly seeking
     Some savage, spectacular suicide.

Surely the translator deserves at least as much credit as Lem for
producing this poem (assuming he was the one who created it), but I
never see him credited.

The Lem story is very funny, as Trurl shows off his poetry machine to
his rival, Klapaucius. At first the machine does poorly, and Klapaucius
gloats (see But then
the machine gets working and Klapaucius becomes enraged with jealousy,
as it passes each of the progressively more difficult challenges he offers


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