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ALBERT B. CASUGA, a Philippine-born writer, lives in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, where he continues to write poetry, fiction, and criticism after his retirement from teaching and serving as an elected member of his region's school board. He was nominated to the Mississauga Arts Council Literary Awards in 2007. A graduate of the Royal and Pontifical University of St. Thomas (now University of Santo Tomas, Manila. Literature and English, magna cum laude), he taught English and Literature (Criticism, Theory, and Creative Writing) at the Philippines' De La Salle University and San Beda College. He has authored books of poetry, short stories, literary theory and criticism. He has won awards for his works in Canada, the U.S.A., and the Philippines. His latest work, A Theory of Echoes and Other Poems was published February 2009 by the University of Santo Tomas Publishing House. His fiction and poetry were published by online literary journals Asia Writes and Coastal Poems recently. He was a Fellow at the 1972 Silliman University Writers Workshop, Philippines. As a journalist, he worked with the United Press International and wrote an art column for the defunct Philippines Herald.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A MULTILINGUAL EXERCISE: POEMS X 4 (TRANSLATIONS)


A MULTILINGUAL EXERCISE: POEMS X 4

After writing and translating “El Nido Desolado” in the four languages I am most comfortable with, I realized that one’s best medium may not necessarily be his lingua franca (in my case, English). Neither is it his “language of the blood” (the Ilocano language of my birthplace).

Rather, the language that most efficiently shapes the experience being created/re-created is that which has the most literary resources in its vocabulary. The language that is capable of creating images quickly in the mind is ordinarily a more efficient medium of communicating articulated thoughts/ideas that would otherwise remain abstract and stunted.

The primary and necessarily the most ordinary medium of poetic expression, of course, is the poem’s sound/verbal system. The more melodious and sensible the verbal equipment of the language used, the sharper its edge in translating a thought into a palpable/real plane of experience.

In this exercise, self-translation provided this writer with a limbering up that revealed intriguing discoveries. I found the Spanish version to have the most significant verbal devices that helped objectify/ subjectify the putative lament ruing abandonment. I felt the lament’s tug more profoundly in the Ilocano version. I consider the English version a tad uninspired.


EL NIDO DESOLADO

(Para mi Madre)

Los pajaritos estan dejando su nido;
el invierno de su vida ha venido
tan muy temprano!

Mira! Mira! Madre mia.

Tan fuerte ahora, sus pajaros
estan volando a puertas desconocidas;
estan volando tan lejos para que
nunca jamas devolver y quedar en la casa
de corazon triste, ahora casa abandonada,
nida desolada, madre mia.

O mi madre querida!


Ilocano Translation. In the order of translation, I worked on the Ilocano version first; the language of the Northern Philippines is what I grew up with as my primary mode of communicating with my family and friends. Spanish was a language I heard in my crib, songs from my maternal grandmother and banter from my paternal grandfather. Like Latin and English, I studied Spanish further in my higher education, since it became a mandatory course once. Considered colonial, the language became an elective like French and Chinese.

While it would soon be supplanted by the national Filipino language and English as my professional tool, I retained both my Spanish and Ilocano lingua franca. From these translations, I realize that literary nuances cannot easily be translated from one language to the other. The verbal and literary energies of the various languages spinning in my ken are resources that I can use at will.

The Ilocano version needed more lines and objective correlatives (viz., “ub-baw nga biag” – empty life; “umok kan ti angin-nen” – a nest, they say, which has become the lair of the wind).


NAPANAWAN NGA UMOK

Pinanawan dan ti umokda,
nagtayab da aminen;
kasla ti naapa unay nga
isasangpet iti lam-ek ken
panag-uyos ti biag.

Kitaem man, Nanang! Kitaem!

Napigsadan dagiti bil-lit;
pimmanawdan --- agtaytayab da
payen nga agturong iti saan nga
ammo nga pagkamangan ---
adayo dan, adayo unay iti
pinagtayabanda tapno saan dan
nga agsubli sadiay umok
nga pinanawanda --- balay kano
iti naled-daang nga puso,
napanawan ken ub-baw nga biag,
umok kan iti angin-nen.

Ay, Nanang! Inak nga dungdungwen!


Filipino Translation. Ironically, I found it easier to translate from Spanish to Filipino. In fact, I realize poetic thoughts lend themselves better in Filipino than in my native Ilocano.


NILISANG PUGAD

Nagliparan na ang mga ibon,
at iniwanan na ang kanilang pugad,
tulad ng maagang pagdating
ng tag-lamig sa iyong buhay.

Tignan ninyo, Inang! Masdan ninyo!

Malalakas na ang mga ibong kamakaila’y
sisiw pa lang --- sila’y nagliparan na
patungong kung saang isang dipang langit
at di malamang malayong sulok
upang di na muling magbalik sa pugad
ng kalungkutan, pugad na nilisan,
isang bahay na wala nang laman.

O Inang. Pinakamamahal kong Ina!


English Translation. Conciseness of expression seems more efficiently achieved in English. The translation from Spanish to English, both colonizing languages adopted by the Philippines, was surprisingly easier, and it appeared as an almost literal version of the first poem written in Spanish.


AN EMPTY NEST

The birds are leaving their nest;
quite like an early Winterset
arrived too soon proroguing your quest.

Look at them, Mother! Look!

Now grown strong, these agile birds
are flying to unknown havens,
far-flung places, never ever
to return to stay in a house
of gloom, a home abandoned,
a desolate nest, my mother.

O my dear mother!


The critic could deal with these translations as multilingual poems and use some hermeneutics that might explain added lines or excised images. Since they are not interlingual or intralingual but monolingual translations, the multilingual critic can study how they differ or how closely translated the devices are to effect an authentic translation.

Good luck! Buena Suerte! Naimbag nga Gasatyo! Sana’y Palarinkayo!

5 comments:

Ka Pete said...

Mas malakas ang tama ng Tagalog version, para sa akin. Opkors, hindi naman ako marunong ng Ilokano. Sa Ingles at Espanyol ko lang ikinukumpara.

Sa Mississauga ka pala nakatira. May kapatid akong nariyan din, Henrietta Lacaba Malillin. More than a decade ago na nang mapunta ako diyan, nang ihatid ko ang aming ina para tumira sa kapatid ko. Hindi natagalan ng aming ina ang lamig diyan, kaya sa kalaunan ay umuwi din ng Pilipinas. Dito na siya pumanaw. Nabanggit ko dahil tungkol sa ina din ang tula mo.

Kumusta na lang. Binaha at nawasak ang kalsada namin dito, pero hindi naman pinasok ng baha ang bahay namin.

ALBERT B. CASUGA said...

Pete:
Salamat sa comments mo. Pambihira talaga ang nangyari diyan. Kukumustahin ko ang sister mo pag nacontact ko siya. Binisita ko and aming ina noong August sa Pinas. Medyo mahina na siya at papalapit na siguro sa dimaiwasan. Salamat sa pagbangit mo tungkol sa ating mga ina. Kaunaunahang tula ito para sa inang ko. Sana'y hindi ito'ng huli. Albert

Bayani said...

Here's my suggested Tagalog translation of the 2nd stanza:

Nagsilakas na ang mga dating inakay na ibon
Nagsiliparan sa malayong kanlungan
Upang di na magbalik sa nilisang
tahanan ng lumbay, tahanang iniwan,
pinabayaang pugad, aking ina.

Bayani

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Bryan Madaje said...

Magandang hapon po ako nga po pala ay estudyante ng pamantasan ng lungsod ng pasig, pwede ko po bang magamit ang inyo pong tula para po sa aming proyekto na pinamagatang "Regional Poem"? umaasa po ako na pagbigyan nyo po ang kahilingan ko po. Salamat po