Author Topic: Translating Basho : matsutake pine mushrooms  (Read 11884 times)

Gabi Greve

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Translating Basho : matsutake pine mushrooms
« on: May 27, 2011, 07:12:54 PM »
pine mushroom
with its ragged top it's
like a pine tree

tr. Jane

. . .

pine mushroom
with its ragged top
it's a pine tree

version Alan

. . . . .

Dear Haiku friends, this is a good chance to talk about the problems of a translator ... grin ... and I am not even a native speaker of English.

Anyway, let us take a look at the Japanese

matsutake ya kabureta hodo wa matsu no nari

Basho could put a lot of information in these three sections:

The name of the mushroom comes from the area where the mushroom grows, in a pine grove of Japanese red pines (akamatsu).
But as Basho takes a closer look, he finds that the form of the mushroom itself resembles the tree. The broken parts of the hat look like the broken bark of akamatsu.
The haiku contains the kireji (cutting word YA) at the end of line 1
It also contains the word HODO ... the more of this ... the more of that

So here is my paraverse, containing all the information in the haiku by Basho

pine mushrooms -
the more ragged their tops
the more they become a red pine /  the more they  look like a red pine

How much of the main information should the translator loose to make it look like an "ELH"?
Or should he trust the reader to make the necessary "deductions" for shortening, once he has understood the full meaning of the haiku as written in Japanese?
Or should he give more than one version (as Robin Gill usually does), to bring the reader closer to the main information?



On the other hand,
if the reader only reads the shortened version of Jane, does he really get all the aspects aspects of this haiku as written in Japanese?

Gabi

coming from this thread
http://www.thehaikufoundation.org/forum_sm/new-to-haiku-free-discussion/the-use-of-simile-in-haiku/

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Don Baird

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Re: Translating Basho : matsutake pine mushrooms
« Reply #1 on: May 28, 2011, 12:30:27 AM »
Hey Gabi,

in pondering:

pine mushrooms -
the more ragged their tops,
the more they look like red pines

pine mushrooms -
their ragged tops
look like red pines

Just thinking out loud and enjoying the subject!

Don

ps ... thanks for posting this!  It's great!
I write haiku because they're there ...

through
the hole of a cheerio,
spring!

Gabi Greve

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Re: Translating Basho : matsutake pine mushrooms
« Reply #2 on: May 28, 2011, 01:44:53 AM »
Quote
pine mushrooms -
their ragged tops
look like red pines

Thanks for taking a look at the matsutake, dear Don!

In the Japanese version, the HODO gives the special flavor to the poem.
It shows the author in the pine wood, looking at many mushrooms and comparing their tops. This part of the joy of finding so many matsutake to be able to compare them seems a bit lost.

Maybe if I switch the lines to keep the  format short/long/short ?

the more ragged their tops,
the more they look like red pines -
these pine mushrooms


6 / 7 / 4  would still be 17 beats to the haiku.

Gabi
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AlanSummers

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Re: Translating Basho : matsutake pine mushrooms
« Reply #3 on: May 28, 2011, 01:52:34 AM »
I feel the repetition works in the original Japanese haiku but doesn't succeed in English.

If I take your latest version:

the more ragged their tops,
the more they look like red pines -
these pine mushrooms

Somehow the repetitions don't work for me, and all I have is a statement.  There doesn't have that ripple effect when you throw a pebble across a stretch of water.

I also find the use of like to make it a simile doesn't work in English, but possibly works okay in Japanese.

A translator, if they also working on a poem too, may have to change not only word order, but some of the meaning e.g.

ragged tops
those red pines
and mushrooms


ragged tops
those red pines
match mushrooms

etc...

all my best,

Alan




Quote
pine mushrooms -
their ragged tops
look like red pines

Thanks for taking a look at the matsutake, dear Don!

In the Japanese version, the HODO gives the special flavor to the poem.
It shows the author in the pine wood, looking at many mushrooms and comparing their tops. This part of the joy of finding so many matsutake to be able to compare them seems a bit lost.

Maybe if I switch the lines to keep the  format short/long/short ?

the more ragged their tops,
the more they look like red pines -
these pine mushrooms


6 / 7 / 4  would still be 17 beats to the haiku.

Gabi
.

Gabi Greve

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Re: Translating Basho : matsutake pine mushrooms
« Reply #4 on: May 28, 2011, 03:30:24 AM »
Thanks for your thoughts, Alan.

Well, some like repetition, some don't.

Your short versions are quite nice.

A lot depends on how much the translator feels free to change the meaning of the original.

Gabi

AlanSummers

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Re: Translating Basho : matsutake pine mushrooms
« Reply #5 on: May 28, 2011, 04:12:25 AM »
Thanks Gabi :-)

My translations are just that, not quite a poem yet. :-)

But a translation needs to move beyond a straight attempt before it can become a poem in itself, and that's certainly a challenge. :-)

Alan

Thanks for your thoughts, Alan.

Well, some like repetition, some don't.

Your short versions are quite nice.

A lot depends on how much the translator feels free to change the meaning of the original.

Gabi


sandra

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Re: Translating Basho : matsutake pine mushrooms
« Reply #6 on: May 28, 2011, 04:46:01 AM »

Hello Gabi,

John Carley wrote an article for Haiku NewZ on the issue of translation (Japanese to English) which makes many interesting points, as well as looking at how the "style" of translation of haiku has changed over time.

To read it, please go here:

http://www.poetrysociety.org.nz/node/578

Best,
Sandra

Gabi Greve

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Re: Translating Basho : matsutake pine mushrooms
« Reply #7 on: May 28, 2011, 05:50:59 AM »
thanks a lot, Alan and Sandra.

For now it is good night and into typhoon nr. 2, coming closer ...

Wish us luck!

Gabi

chibi575

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Re: Translating Basho : matsutake pine mushrooms
« Reply #8 on: May 29, 2011, 07:22:52 AM »
Gabi's paraverse:

Quote
pine mushrooms -
the more ragged their tops
the more they become a red pine /  the more they  look like a red pine

my offer:

pine mushrooms --
finding more their ragged tops
remind one of red pine

I must admit that Gabi's excellent (although a bit lengthy) paraverse lent the meaning and feel I tried to capture in my paraverse.  The HODO was key in this thinking.  I would've liked to have seen the kanji (if used) because the romaji for "hodo" can mean "one's walking pace".

(aside: thanks to Gabi san for suggesting I look at this)

Don, Alan, and Sandra, your contributions are great and indicates to me Robin Gill's concept of versioning helps immensely to find depth.  This aspect of Bashou's hokku continues to be exciting.

My thanks to all.

(aside: Alan, yes, it is not quite a poem in translation... but, I contend that was Bashou's style in Japanese too?!)
知美

AlanSummers

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Re: Translating Basho : matsutake pine mushrooms
« Reply #9 on: May 29, 2011, 01:13:15 PM »
Hi Chibi!

You said:
(aside: Alan, yes, it is not quite a poem in translation... but, I contend that was Bashou's style in Japanese too?!)

I wasn't sure what you meant.  Do you mean Matsuo Bashō didn't want to this as a poem?  Was it a teaching device and not a hokku for renku, or a standalone hokku?

all my best,

Alan


Gabi's paraverse:

Quote
pine mushrooms -
the more ragged their tops
the more they become a red pine /  the more they  look like a red pine

my offer:

pine mushrooms --
finding more their ragged tops
remind one of red pine

I must admit that Gabi's excellent (although a bit lengthy) paraverse lent the meaning and feel I tried to capture in my paraverse.  The HODO was key in this thinking.  I would've liked to have seen the kanji (if used) because the romaji for "hodo" can mean "one's walking pace".

(aside: thanks to Gabi san for suggesting I look at this)

Don, Alan, and Sandra, your contributions are great and indicates to me Robin Gill's concept of versioning helps immensely to find depth.  This aspect of Bashou's hokku continues to be exciting.

My thanks to all.

(aside: Alan, yes, it is not quite a poem in translation... but, I contend that was Bashou's style in Japanese too?!)

chibi575

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Re: Translating Basho : matsutake pine mushrooms
« Reply #10 on: May 29, 2011, 01:40:36 PM »
Hi Alan,

Sorry for that!  I meant what I understand of Bashou sama was he rarely felt his poems "finished", in a way... retaining an openess or just the right amount of ambiquity that left some doubt as to what the master was feeling/thinking... you see?  This is a factor that circumscribes Bashou's as well as others' "mastery", I feel.

An example in the poem, "hodo" as Gabi pointed out and left me wondering is it an allusion to the pace one uses in searching for mushrooms?!  Of course, this just may be my misreading the original Japanese as I did with the romaji, "he"!!  Hee hee.
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Gabi Greve

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Re: Translating Basho : matsutake pine mushrooms
« Reply #11 on: May 29, 2011, 04:04:09 PM »
Thanks for chiming in, Chibi san,

as for hodo, the one you are trying to remember

ほど【歩度】 footway

the meaning is not related to the hodo -ほど【程】 Basho uses
(it just happens to have the same sound, as many Japanese words do).
I know this is confusing for a beginner student of the language.
Therefore it is always best to get hold of the kanji, they convey the meaning.


naru hodo ! I see !

Gabi

chibi575

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Re: Translating Basho : matsutake pine mushrooms
« Reply #12 on: May 29, 2011, 04:47:00 PM »
歩度 (hodo) in the Jeffery online ditionary is "one's walking pace", perhaps you mean, HODOU or HODOO, 歩道, which is footpath?  They look very similar don't they?  Yes, I would have liked to have seen the original Japanese, as you well know, these kanji can make all the difference in translation.

Gabi san, thank you as always.
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Gabi Greve

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Re: Translating Basho : matsutake pine mushrooms
« Reply #13 on: May 29, 2011, 05:52:45 PM »
Hi Chibi san,
there are more kanji involving the reading of hodo and then hodoo, and hoodo, and hoodoo  ...
but here we are concerned with the meaning of hodo ほど【程】.

It is good to see you so attentive!

hodohodo ni shinasai  :)

Gabi

AlanSummers

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Re: Translating Basho : matsutake pine mushrooms
« Reply #14 on: May 29, 2011, 06:29:18 PM »
Thanks Chibi,

Yes, that's common with all poets, the poem is never finished, just published. ;-)

Often a published poem will either be edited again for a collection, or a Selected, or Collected etc...

HODO QUESTION
Can someone, for the benefit of myself and any others, confirm the meaning of hodo?

Is it:
http://home.inter.net/kenbutler/hodojoshi.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_particles#hodo
http://www.zimbio.com/Japanese+language/articles/62/More+Hodo+Japanese+grammar

Is it used in a new expression as well?

"hiku" could mean "take steps backward", (imagine you saw a big fight, you feel like stepping back)
And nowadays it is widely used when you find someone's talk or activity weird/annoying/amazing/impressing etc. and you feel like putting some distance from him/her. It seems to be used both negative and positive meanings.

"hodo" is basically "about", "as (adjective) as "

hiku hodo no yosashisa --> admirable sweetness
hiku hodo (kare wa) okotteru --> He's so mad that I cannot get closer to him.

all my best,

Alan