RUSS/INTL 265: TRANSLATION AS CROSS-CULTURAL COMMUNICATION
Fall 2008
Gitta Hammarberg

STUDENT POEM TRANSLATIONS: samples from Previous class.

(the numbering of the foot/end notes has not transferred from the originals. . .)

DE SA GRANDE AMYE About his dearest friend
By Clément Marot, tr. M. Paris
Dedans Paris, ville jolie, 1 In Miami , pretty city,
Un jour, passant mélancolie, 2 One other day, saved from pity ,
Je prins alliance nouvelle, 3 I have began a new affair
A la plus gaye damoyselle, 4 With a woman most debonair
Qui soit d’icy en Italie. 5 Dwelling from here to Haiti .
D’honnesteté elle est saisie, 6 She is gifted with honesty,
Et croy (selon ma fantaisie) 7 I do believe – it’s my party ,
Qu’il n’en est guères de plus belle, 8 Her beauty no one can compare,
Dedans Paris. 9 In Miami.
Je ne vous la nommeray mye, 10 I will not tell you who is she,
Si non que c’est ma grande amye; 11 But what a friend she is to me !
Car l’alliance se feit telle, 12 For the affair began somewhere
Par un doulx baiser que j’eus d’elle, 13 With her soft kiss that I did bear,
Sans penser aucune infamie, 14 No reason not to let it be ,
Dedans Paris. 15 In Miami.

Notes:
In the original poem, the line 11 echoes the title which is less transparent in my translation. However, it seemed to me important to keep the pronoun ‘his’ in the title as it is part of Marot’s strategy in his parody of courtesans, instead of changing the title to ‘what a friend she is to me’. I could not either repeat ‘dearest friend’ on line 11 because that would force me to give up a colloquial expression that fit quite well.
I was confronted at the beginning with the difficulty that the ‘s’ in Paris is pronounced in English while it is not in French. As a result, Paris does not echo with any rhymes in the poem which is surely a big loss compared to the original text. I had then the choice between using the name of a French city that no one would know in the English speaking sphere in order to keep a French touch to the poem, but this would make my translation pointless. Therefore, sticking with the idea that it makes sense to target this translation to the audience, I have decided not only to translate the language but also to translate the affair over the Atlantic from France to the United States.
I have decided to translate ‘passant mélancolie’ by ‘saved from pity’ by referring to the self-pity that one feels when he is melancholic. This might seem a little far fetched but I could not come with any other rhyme.
Once again, in the poem, it is Italy which is mentioned, and not Haiti. However, since the affair was translated to the States I attempted to find a country nearby.
The word fantaisie means in this context his will. At the same time, the word holds some sexual connotations that should not be lost if one wants to keep the ambiguity most characteristic of Marot’s poetry. It seemed to me therefore legitimate to change it for an English expression that would both mean that he can say and feel whatever he wants disregarding the judgmental gaze of the society he lives in and at the same time let a certain degree of decadence come about.
In these two lines, I make an excessive use of pronouns which is there in the poem but at a lesser degree. The mixture of the author, the subject and the audience amused me so much that I thought I might as well exaggerate it a little more.
In the original, it is written ‘un doulx baiser’ which means ‘a soft kiss’. The reason why I thought of changing the article ‘a’ by the pronoun ‘her’ is that the following part of the sentence implied that she had kissed him first.
This line shows once again the freedom that I allowed myself regarding the original work. A more literal translation like ‘I didn’t think any infamy’ would have been more truthful. However, the sentence in English would not suit the rest of the rather light hearted tone of the colloquial translation that I have decided to make from this poem. Comments like ‘sans penser aucune infamie’ would be pretty common in the society and times Marot lived in, but this way of speaking is certainly a little outdated.

“Canción del pirata” (Versos 31-64)
José de Espronceda
Que es mi barco mi tesoro,
que es mi dios la libertad,
mi ley, la fuerza y el viento,
mi única patria, la mar.
Allá muevan feroz guerra 35 ciegos reyes
por un palmo más de tierra;
que yo aquí tengo por mío
cuanto abarca el mar bravío,
a quien nadie impuso leyes. 40
Y no hay playa,
sea cualquiera,
ni bandera
de esplendor, que no sienta 45
mi derecho
y dé pecho
a mi valor.
Que es mi barco, etcétera

“Song of the Pirate” (Lines 31-64)
José de Espronceda
It’s that my ship is my treasure,
It’s that my god is freedom,
My law, might and the wind,
My one/only homeland/native land/
fatherland the sea.
There (they) move/stir up fierce war 35
blind kings
for a span more of land/ground/earth
(see) that I here have for mine
how(ever) much includes/covers the
savage sea,
to/on whom no one imposed laws. 40
And there is no beach/seashore
whatever it may be,
nor banner/flag
of splendor,
that does not feel 45
my right/law
and give chest (fig. for pay tribute)
to my valor/courage
It’s that my ship, etc.

“Pirate’s Song” (Lines 31-64)
J. de Espronceda/ Trans. M. Thieme
For my ship is my treasure,
For my god is liberty,
My law, the wind and power,
My only homeland, the sea.
Out there blinded kings demand 35
ferocious war
for a few feet more of land;
yet I have right here for me
all that’s held by savage sea
whom no one claimed lordship o’er. 40
And there’s no shore
of any manner,
nor a banner
of renown
but that senses 45
my just bearing
and to my daring
kneels down.
For my ship, etc.

A la voz de “¡barco viene!” 50
es de ver
cómo vira y se previene
a todo trapo a escapar.
Que yo soy el rey del mar,
Y mi furia es de temer. 55
En las presas
Yo divido
lo cogido
por igual
Sólo quiero 60
por riqueza
la belleza
sin rival
Que es mi barco, etcétera

To the cry of “ship coming” 50
it is to see
how it veers/tacks and gets ready/
prepares
at full sail to escape
For/as I am the king of the sea
And my fury is to be dreaded/feared 55
In the captures
I divide
what is gathered/taken
equally
I only want 60
for riches
beauty
without rival/unrivaled
It’s that my ship, etc.

To the cry of “ship-a-coming” 50
it’s a sight
how, their old tack overcoming,
they at full sail set to flee
For I am the king of the sea
And my wrath inspires fright. 55
All the plunder
I distribute,
each ship’s tribute
fairly share.
All I want by 60
way of booty
is a beauty
past compare.
For my ship, etc.

Moonrise
By Annette von Droste-Hülshoff
Translated from the German by Leah Simon
There on the balcony trellis I leaned
And waited, you tranquil , mild light, on you.
High over me, like cheerless icy crystal,
Liquiescent did the firmament’s hall swim;
The sea with quiet dilation , shimmered,
Deliquescent pearls, or tear drops of the clouds?
It rippled; it dimmed and dawned around me,
I waited, you tranquil, mild light, on you.
High stood I, near me the Linden tree crown,
Deep under me the branches, boughs and root;
In alcove drones the round dance of the Hawk Moths,
I saw the fireflies ascend and glowing,
And blossoms, as if half asleep, tumbled down;
It seemed to me, here rode a heart to harbor,
A heart, brimful of fortune good and woe
And images of blessed history.
The darkness rose, the shadows permeate –
Where tarry you, tarry you, my mild glow? -
They permeate just as sinful thoughts would do,
The billow of the firmament appeared to sway,
The sparks of the fireflies were a-trembling,
Long after the moths had sunk down to the ground,
There only mountaintops stood hard and near,
A dreary judge’s circle bleakly there.
And branches rustled underneath my feet
Like warning whispers or greetings of death,
A droning climbed in distant watered valleys
Like people’s murmurs before the tribunal;
It seemed to me, like something must give account ,
As if stood hesitant a life forsaken,
As if a withered heart stood all alone,
Quite lonely with its guilt and with its pain.
There on the billows sank a silver web,
And slowly climb you, godly light, aloft;
Quietly you stroke the louring brow ‘the Alps,
And from the judges were soft men gently made;
The billows’ tremors a smiling wave became,
On every branch I saw the drops a-twinkling,
And every drop a tiny chamber seemed,
Inside flickered the glow of the home lamp.
O moon, you are to me like a late friend,
Who the youth of the exhausted closed in
On his very last dying memory
Of life’s sweet reverberation captured,
You are no sun, that delights and bedazzles,
In fiery flames to live, in blood to end –
You are what the ill singer in his poem,
A strange, but o! what a mild, tranquil light.

Notes:

Added to fill out rhyme
Gentle, meek, placid (also in lines 8 and 18)
Equal [to], equitable.
Cloudy, dreary.
Actually ice, icy fills out the syllables and rhythm sequence.
Actually plural (crystals) but fits the rhyme better singular. Snowflakes?
Loll, expand
A more accurate translation that does not fit the rhythm reads: The sea shimmered with quiet expansion.
Also known as Basswood tree
Reigen, a specific dance.
Hawk moth is substituted for Phalänen, which is a specific name of a type of moth. Hawk moths are found in Germany, as are Phalänen, and they are thus a reasonable substitute.
Meaning unclear
False stress on last word.
Hand-wave.
The youth belongs to the exhausted and to the late friend of the previous line.
Pronoun not in the original, also in line 47

“Stella” by Victory Hugo
Preface
Victor Hugo (1802-1885) is acclaimed as one of the greatest French writers in history. He wrote poetry and prose, drew and painted hundreds of unpublished works, and was very active in French politics in the nineteenth century. He was elected to the Académie Française in 1841 and made a pair de France in 1845, during which term he sat in the Upper Chamber among the lords. After the revolution of 1848 and the establishment of the Second Republic, Hugo was elected to the Constitutional Assembly and the Legislative Assembly. After Louis Napoléon’s coup d’état in 1851, Hugo, fearing for his life, voluntarily exiled himself to Brussels, then Jersey in England. He finally moved to Guernsey in the English Channel. After his self-exile of twenty years, he returned to France, but fled again during the Paris Commune of 1871. He went back to Paris and was elected senator in 1876. He died in 1885, was given a huge national funeral, and was buried in the French Panthéon.
Hugo is best known in the United States for his novels, such as Les Misérables, an epic account of the French Revolution. In France, however, he is most renowned for his poetry and his political life. The poem “Stella” is from Les Châtiments, a book of poetry he wrote during his self-exile in Jersey while Louis Napoléon was in power. The poem is full of revolutionary republican spirit, with a complicated metaphor comparing the ocean to an uprising of the people. This metaphor is impossible to render in English in its entirety, as it relies on the double meaning of the word grève, which is both “the sea” and “a worker’s strike.” Hugo doubtless derived this metaphor from the Aeneid, the Roman national epic written by Vergil in the first century BCE. The first scene of Book One of Vergil’s poem is a storm scene where the sea and storm are likened to an uprising of the people calmed by the presence of a charismatic man:
Ac veluti magno in populo cum saepe coorta est
seditio saevitque animis ignobile vulgus;
jamque faces et saxa volant, furor arma ministrat;
tum, pietate gravem ac meritis si forte virum quem
conspexere, silent arrectisque auribus astant;
ille regit dictis animos et pectora mulcet:
sic cunctus pelagi cecidit fragor, aequora postquam
prospiciens genitor caeloque invectus aperto
flectit equos curruque volans dat lora secundo.
But just as in a great populace when often a riot arises and the common crowd rages in their spirits; and then torches and rocks fly, fury supplies arms; then, if by chance they saw some man distinguished in piety and merits, they are silent and stand near with pricked ears; that one rules their souls with words and calms their hearts: thus the whole uproar of the sea fell, afterwards the sire, looking out over the waters and carried by the open sky, guides his horses and flying in a chariot gives rein to the following – Aeneid, I.148-156 with my own translation
Hugo had translated the Aeneid as an adolescent and would have known the epic thoroughly. The reign of Louis Napoléon and the multiple revolutions in France during Hugo’s lifetime inspired him to adopt Vergil’s metaphor into “Stella,” his own metaphor calling for the French overthrow of the monarchy and establishment of a new Republic.
Hugo’s poem has 42 lines split into 21 rhyming couplets. These are arranged in alexandrines, a classic French meter, consisting of twelve syllables per line. The couplets are alternately feminine and masculine rhymes, starting and ending with feminine rhymes. I chose to preserve the twelve syllables per line as a personal challenge and to retain Hugo’s long, languid lines. I decided not to reproduce his rhyming scheme because I felt that such an endeavor would cause me to deviate too much from the word order and content of Hugo’s poem, a mistake made by the translator Steven Monte. I hope that I have managed to convey the dreamy beauty of Hugo’s French and his powerful conclusion.
“Stella ”
I slept at night close to the expanse of the sea .
A chilly wind woke me, I came out of my dream,
I opened my eyes, I saw the star of morning star.
She was resplendent deep in the sky far away
In a soft paleness, infinite and charming.
Aquilo was fleeing carrying away the storm.
The flashing star was changing the cloud into down .
She was a light who was thinking, who was living;
She was calming the hard rock where the wave unfurls ;
You would have thought her a soul traversing a pearl.
The night was still there, but the shadow reigned in vain,
The sky illuminated with a smile divine.
The light silvered the high top of the leaning mast ;
The ship was black, but the sail above it was white;
All the gulls standing upright on an escarpment,
Attentive, were contemplating the star gravely
Like a celestial bird, and made of spark;
The ocean, resembling the people , went towards her,
And, roaring deep down low, was watching her glowing,
And seemed to be afraid of making her fly off.
An ineffable love was filling the expanse .
The green herb at my feet shivered, carried away ,
The birds were conversing in their nests; a flower
Awakening, told me: That’s the star my sister.
While with long folds the shadow was lifting its veil ,
I heard a voice that was coming out of the star
And which was saying: I am the star who comes first.
I am she you believe in the tomb who goes out .
I’m for him on Sinai , I’m for him on Tayg’tos ;
I am the pebble of gold and fire that God throws,
As with a slingshot , at the black forehead of night .
I am what is reborn when a world is destroyed.
O you nations! I am the ardent Poetry.
I shined over Moses, I shined over Dante.
The lion Ocean is amorous with love of me.
I am coming. Rouse yourselves, virtue, courage, faith!
Thinkers, spirits! Go up on the tower, sentinels!
Eyelids, open yourselves! Fire yourselves, pupils!
Earth, stir up the furrow; life awakens the noise;
Upright, you who sleep ; for the one who follows me,
For the one who sends me ahead first in advance,
It’s the angel Liberty , it’s the giant Light!
Bibliography
“Victor Hugo.” (Online) Available http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/vhugo.htm, April 2004.
“Stella.” Victor Hugo: Selected Poetry. Monte, Steven, translator. Britain: 2001, Carcanet Press Limited. 86-89.
“Walking Through the Symbol of Byzantium.” (Online) Available http://www.helleniccomserve.
com/byzantium.html, April 2004.

Footnotes:

This is not a French word, but a Latin word for “star”, so I will keep Hugo’s title in the Latin
Je m’étais endormi – se endormir is translated “to go to sleep, fall asleep” but is something like “I put myself into sleep”; I translated it as “I slept” to fit the meter and convey the sense of a habitual action given by “la nuit”
literally “the night” – the French suggests by using the general “la nuit” that this is a habitual action, that he falls asleep there every night, perhaps
“la grève” has a different meaning in modern French. According to ARTFL, it meant “a flat place, the sea, a river, a stretch of sand”; it was also the name of the “place publique” (public place) in Paris in front of the Hôtel de ville (government seat) where executions were held and where out-of-work people would gather to wait to be hired; it is evidently from the name of this place “la Grève” (the flat place covered in gravel) where people would gather that the modern French meaning of “grève” as “a (workers’) strike” is derived
“elle resplendissait” – this is a verb in French that means “to glow, shine” but has such a beautiful sound that I would like to keep it with the English adjective
“au fond” is literally “in the depth of,” but “deep in” conveys the same sense
Aquilo – the personification of the North Wind in Latin
“flashing” carries the suddenness of the French word “éclatant”
“l’astre” – general word for a celestial body, by extension a star; French has several words for star where English has only one, so I had to translate all these words as “star”
duvet means “down” as in birds’ down, but also the fuzz on fruit (like peaches) and a young man’s first beard stubble (we call this “peach fuzz”)
“la clarté” - light, transparency
“l’écueil” – a rock in the sea, or figuratively anything dangerous for virtue, honor, reputation, etc.
“déferler” – to unfurl the sails of a ship; also describes the movement of waves
“à travers” and “au travers” are similar in French, but “à travers” has a feeling of going through some sort of empty space; “traversing” carries this meaning and, as a derivative, is evocative of the French
“s’illuminait” – the sky illuminated itself, was illuminated; this refers to religious/spiritual illumination as well, and since the sky is divine, it could work in this sense as well (self-illumination)
“la lueur” is light, but a faint, feeble sort of light
Hugo has a fixation with the sea and ships that shows up in this work as well
“above it” is inserted to fit the meter because it does not distract from the meaning of the French
This is a direct allusion to the storm scene from Vergil’s Aeneid described in the preface
“rugissant” must be from “rugir” (to roar, howl), but the translator of the poem (Steven Monte) has mistakenly translated it as though it were from “rougir” (to blush)
In French “to be afraid” is “avoir peur de”, literally “to have fear of”
This is an infinitive in French with the construction “avoir peur de”, but makes more sense in English as a participle
Meaning the ocean here, but can also refer to anything large and flat, like La Grève
“éperdue” can be “distraught, lost, carried away”; I think this is another involved metaphor – there are several idioms in 19th century French referring to a connection between the grass and a person’s emotional state; in this case, I think it may be implying that the observer is distraught or passionate and shivering; this is like our English “swept off one’s feet” and the reason why I chose to translate it as “carried away” – it mirrors the emotional state of the narrator
“se parlaient” – they were talking to each other
“voile” means both “veil” and “sail”
Allusion to Jesus Christ
Mount Sinai
Abbreviated to fit the meter; Mount Taygetos is a mountain in the Peloponnesus of Greece which was the site of a French fortress in the Middle Ages. It was an important city of the Byzantine Empire and was seized by the Ottoman Turks. During the revolt for Greek independence in 1821, it was one of the first bastions taken from the Turks. This revolution was probably what Hugo had in mind in using this place name.
“la fronde” – also the word for a type of bandage and the name of a political party that took up arms against Louis XIV
David and Goliath illusion
Or scorching, blazing, raging, fiery, burning, fierce
This makes me think that perhaps the word was “rugir”, “to roar”, instead of “to blush”
Or “he is in love with me”; but the French is “est amoureux de moi”; this is why I inserted the following “with love” to capture the double meaning of the French
“éveille” – Again, I don’t know if this is a command or a statement; it could be either, but I’m inclined to say statement because there is no comma setting off “life”, nor is it capitalized to signify personification
“debout” – this is actually an adjective, but I think here it is a command meaning “Stand up!”
“dromez” – I did not find this word in any of three dictionaries, so I compared my copy of the French poem to two other copies, both of which say “dormez” instead of “dromez”; I believe that this is a typo in the book I checked out (there is another typo in the same poem, as well as a mistaken translation of a word) and will translate it as “you who are sleeping” (“vous qui dormez”)
This concludes the involved metaphor at the beginning of the poem (the sea and storm compared to an uprising of the people); it is a call to revolution to overthrow Louis Napoléon and reestablish republican rule
Background of the Singer: Caetano Veloso
Caetano Veloso was born near Salvador, Bahia in Brazil in 1942. Heavily influenced by the classic bossa nova artists emerging at the time (especially João Gilberto), the Novo Cinema (New Cinema) movement and trends in Brazilian theater, Veloso began singing at an early age. Joining with other influential singers such as Gilberto Gil and Maria Bethania, Veloso gained appearances on national music television programs and contests. Veloso quickly developed a unique and radical sound embodied in his creation of the Tropicalism vanguard movement. “The movement applies and up-dates, in the context of the masses, the anthropophagic philosophy of the modernist Oswaldo de Andrade, which proposes reprocessing foreign information to create a Brazilian and orginal art. ” In December of 1968, during the military dictatorship, an act was passed to limit artistic freedom. Both Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil were arrested for supposedly mocking the national anthem and flag. The two went into exile in England and continued to produce internationally acclaimed albums. Veloso eventually returned to Brazil, only to be kidnapped by the military police again, and ironically they wanted him to write songs for the government. Veloso refused but began to write sambas each year for the samba schools that perform during Carnival. Meanwhile, he wrote columns and created experimental albums that achieved mixed success.
All of his work, whether sucessful or not, is so influential that the verb “caetanear” (to caetano) became popular, meaning “to muse”. The album “Totalmente Demais” (Totally too much) is released in 1986 to incredible success, and it went platinum. Veloso initiated several world tours and earned two Sharp music awards. Veloso also survived an attempt on his life and several years later wrote a book on the development of Tropicalism. Most recently, he performed at the Grammys and in Pedro Almódovar’s movie Talk to Her. Veloso’s songs reflect his political radicalism and activism; they are experimental and beautiful at once. The song, “Soy loco por ti, America” is from Veloso’s very first album called “Caetano Veloso” released in 1968. I chose this song because it show’s Caetano’s Tropicália style and originality.
I’m Crazy For You, America
(Intro: percussion, keyboard)
I’m crazy for you America
I will bring a sad woman
Her name will be Martha , her name will be Martha
I’m crazy for your love
To have as colors the white foam of Latin America
And the sky as a ban-ner
And the sky as a ban-ner
I’m crazy for you America
I’m crazy for your love (chorus 2x)
Smile of a almost -cloud
The rivers, songs, and fear
The body full of stars, the body full of stars
As one calls a lover
In this nameless country-this tango, this rancho , this people, I tell myself
Light the fire to know it, the fire of knowledge
I’m crazy for you America
I’m crazy for your love (chorus 2x)
The name of the dead man
Still no one can say who knows
Before the day breaks, before the day breaks
The name of the dead man
Before that night spreads itself in Latin America
The name of the man is the peop-le, the name of the man is the peop-le
I’m crazy for you America
I’m crazy for your love (chorus 2x)
I wait for a morning that sings the name of the dead man
They won’t be sad words, but crazy of love
The poem still exists
With palms, with trenches-songs of war, who knows, songs of the sea.
Ay, estate como ver, Ay, estate como ver
I’m crazy for you America
I’m crazy for your love (chorus 2x)
I’m passing through
I know some day I will die
Of fright, bullet or vice, of fright, bullet or vice
On the precipice of lights
Between longings, I am light
I will die from “bruços ” in the arms, in the eyes, in the arms of a woman, in the arms of a woman
But still in love
In the arms of a peasant woman , guerrilheira , mannequin, far from me
In the arms of someone who wants me, in the arms of someone who wants me
I’m crazy for you America
I’m crazy for your love (chorus 4x)
Notes on my adaptation:
One of the main problems I encountered was dealing with issues of rhyme and meter. The lyrics I found were written out very arbitrarily, and so I had great difficulty discerning the correct phrasing. Clearly, with a song one loses the orality of the original, as I remembered Veloso’s interpretation very differently from the actual text of the lyrics. Veloso’s inflection, tone and quality are completely impossible to replicate in translation, as is the melody. Thus, the project almost seems doomed from the start, as it can never bring back the musicality of the song. However, I did my best to not only translate the words themselves, but also the oral texture and emphasis added by Veloso. I found that not only did the sung version include several lines that the text did not, but also the lines were arranged differently. Veloso often sang several lines together, and with the form dictated by the written lyrics, one loses the musical flow. Additionally, I divided up the stanzas and revealed choral repetition to show Veloso’s phrasing.
I also kept the bilingual phrases as well as the italicized portions that were translated, to indicate to the reader what differed from the original. The words I kept in the original Spanish or Portuguese were either so closely tied to a cultural context that they could not be translated without awkwardness (rancho, tango, etc.), or were a phrase/saying that lost its relevance translated fully (ay, estate como ver). The mixing between languages is consistent with Veloso’s own, as he utilizes both Spanish and Portuguese together to possibly create a sense of Latin American unity. This could also be a result of pressure from record companies to have a greater crossover in the “Latin” market, though I doubt this is Veloso’s primary motivation. His continued emphasis on creativity and politics has always clashed with the strategies of record companies and nationalistic propaganda. Considering that this song came out in 1968 during the period of repressive dictatorship, I see it as a cry of both pride and pain for his “America”.

*****************
May Melody by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

How glorious smiles
Nature at me!
How glow the sunbeams! ,
How shines the lea!
Spring blossoms break forth
From every bough
And countless voices
From groves sing out
And joy, great delight
From every breast.
Oh earth, oh sun bright!
Oh bliss, oh zest!
Oh love, oh lover!
So golden bright
Like breaking morn-clouds
At every height!
You bless so gently
The dewy field
In fragrant vapor
So much will yield.
Oh maiden, maiden,
How I love you!
Your eyes tell me how
You love me true!
So too loves the lark ,
Sweet song and air
And morning flowers
That bloom so fair.
So much I love you
I swear this truth
Such joy you give me
As well as youth,


And to dance and song
A meaning new.
Be ever grateful
You love me true.
----------

Lied can be translated as song, melody, or tune. I prefer melody, because it reflects context of the period from which the poem originates. During the 1800s, Gesänge or mélodie was a very popular style of performance, consisting of putting poetry of the time to the music of Schubert, Strauss, Debussy, and many other composers. Many of Goethe’s poems were converted in this fashion, and I suspect Mailied was converted also, though I do not know of the music to which the poem was added.

In addition, I think that May Song sounds rather commonplace. I want the poem to convey the proclamation of the speaker’s love for his sweetheart as well as the rush he gets from nature as it comes alive in the spring time, and thus May Melody sounds less ordinary.
Concerning punctuation throughout the poem, I preserved most phrase end-markers, such as exclamation points or periods, but I removed many of the original commas and redistributed them, because German punctuation rules are quite different from those of English.
The original poem has a masculine rhyme scheme, which I tried to uphold in my translation, containing five syllables in the first line, then four in the second, five in the third, and four in the fourth. However, to do this I had to combine several words into compounds, such as sunbeams and morn-clouds. I found it very difficult to maintain a masculine rhyme scheme throughout, and some stanzas are more successful than others. Nonetheless, I did not feel the need to alter my translation to strictly hold to the masculine rhyme.
I had to convert “die Sonne” from the original German into “sunbeams”, because “the sun” does not have enough syllables to complete the necessary five syllables of that particular line. German words are generally longer than English ones, so throughout the poem I had to add additional words to create enough syllables.
As I was reviewing the original poem to write my final draft, I noticed that this stanza does not have a rhyming couplet. I see no overt reason for leaving the stanza without a rhyme, because it is not particularly integral to the meaning of the poem. However, this lack of a rhyme helped me significantly with concluding the verse, as I found it difficult to find a word to rhyme with “bough” that made sense in the context. To try to find the reasoning behind Goethe’s rhyme scheme in this poem, I did an internet search of Goethe pertaining to his style of versification and discovered that he often modeled Shakespeare in a freer and less structured rhyme scheme, hence that which is observed in Mailied.
Goethe uses in the original poem “O Lieb’, o Liebe”. Though it is not possible to abbreviate lover, I altered it so that it would have the same effect (Oh love, oh lover). In my first draft I used “Oh love, oh lovely” but that was not particularly clear to whom or to what he was referring. “Lover” is a more definite and clearer term of affection than “lovely”, which is rather indirect.
The original German word that I translated to be “morn-clouds” is “Morgenwolken”, meaning morning clouds. However, to adhere to the five syllables allowed for that line, I changed it to “morn-clouds”, and I think it also adds an extra air of quaintness. Also, I hyphenated morn-clouds so that the line would end stressed, keeping to the masculine rhyme.