Ночь (часть третья)

by Don  

The Russian word for night is ночь, but it doesn't mean quite the same thing as English night. In English, once the sky is dark, you can say that it is night. In Russian night usually doesn't start until midnight. The word crossed my mind today because of a wonderful poem by Александр Блок, which goes like this:

Ночь, улица, фонарь, аптека,
Бессмысленный и тусклый свет.
Живи ещё хоть четверть века -
Всё будет так. Исхода нет.

Умрёшь - начнёшь опять сначала,
И повторится всё, как встарь,
Ночь, ледяная рябь канала,
Аптека, улица, фонарь.

Heaven knows why, but I found myself wanting to do a new translation. Whenever I do such a thing, I start off with a fairly word-for-word equivalent. Here's that version:

Night, a street, a street lamp, a drugstore,
A dull and meaningless light.
And if you live another quarter century,
Everything will be exactly the same. There is no escape.

You will die; you will start over from the beginning.
And everything will be repeated as before:
The night, the icy ripples on the canal,
The drugstore, the street and the streetlight.

Here's my fast and dirty new translation. I've spent only 30 minutes on it, so any criticism is probably justified.

Night, a street, a drugstore... a street lamp’s
Depressing and meaningless light.
And even if you live much longer,
You won't escape your worthless plight.

You’ll die; you’ll start back from the beginning,
And everything will be repeated just like before:
The night, the icy ripples on the canal,
The streetlight and the dull drugstore.


Comment from: Jenny [Visitor]  

Please check out another translation of this poem:

Night. Street. Lantern. Drugstore.
A meaningless and dim faint light.
Live on for twenty years or more
It will remain. There’s no way out.

You’ll die and start to live all over,
And things will be just as before:
A night, a channel’s icy pother,
A street. A lantern. A drugstore.

Taken from here: http://jenny-tarkus.livejournal.com/40307.html

It has some flaws, but whatever)

08/15/12 @ 10:16
Comment from: it-ogo [Visitor]

I feel like word “dull” does not work here in a proper way (as well as “depressing"). Its complex of meanings is too common and too obvious. It cuts off some dimensions. “Pale” would work better IMHO.

03/09/12 @ 01:42

Form is loading...