29 March 2009

dull flame of (insert translation here)

At the moment I'm a little all-consumed with love poetry, entirely out of necessity (don't ask).

As Bjork's Dull Flame of Desire is almost my all time favourite love song, and potentially my all time favourite song (Unravel is probably the best love song and my favourite song though) I set out to see if the original poem it is from, by Russian poet Tyutchev, is longer than the song, or if there are any different translations floating around. It turns out there are.

The translation Bjork uses is as follows:

I love your eyes, my dear
Their splendid, sparkling fire
When suddenly you raise them so
To cast a swift embracing glance
Like lightning flashing in the sky
But there's a charm that is greater still
When my love's eyes are lowered
When all is fired by passion's kiss
And through the downcast lashes
I see the dull flame of desire

So yeah, it's beautiful, but I've come across a translation by Frank Jude, which can be found here (as well as translations of all of his poems, this one is poem 123) which I also adore, it's funny how different the two versions are, both pretty beautiful, and I really like elements from both. Not sure that there is one that I prefer more than the other.

I love your eyes, dear,
their fiery-playful games,
their sudden upward glances
slowly looking all around like lightning-flames.

There's a more potent spell:
eyes lower.
A mouth hungers.
Lids almost close.
Sullen arousal glows.

UGH. actually, I've changed my mind, the second one is definitely more beautiful. And look at poem 122, which that follows:

There's not a spark of feeling in your eyes.
When you speak, your words are lies
and there's no soul in you.
Stand fast, my heart, right to the end:
godless, creation has to fend,
so praying's pointless too.

Obviously not a love poem, but thematically, it's interesting that this should preceed such a stunning poem that is based around beautiful eyes. Also interesting the word "spark" which appears, which isn't present in this translation of 123, but is in the version that Bjork used "splendid sparkling fire". Very interesting indeed. I'll have a shop around, see if there are any other good translations of it!

love love x

1 comment:

Sean said...

I found another similarly themed poem from the same translator, it's number 201:

I knew a pair of eyes. Oh, what a sight!
God knows I loved them dearly!
My soul could not be torn
from their magic, passionate night!

Inscrutable was that gaze,
where life was bared to its depths,
such suffering I sensed there,
and such a depth of passion!

Melancholy was their breathing,
deep in their dense lashes' shade,
languid as pleasure,
fateful as suffering.

And on such marvellous days,
it never happened once
that I would meet them unperturbed,
without a tear springing to my eyes.


love love x