WHY?

The first post tells why. It may be too little, but hopefully not too late.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Nadson

I did my best to translate a poem by Semyon Nadson, a Russian poet. His father was son of a baptized Jew; he died when Semyon was two. Nadson was sincere, talented and immensely popular. His life, as often happens with poets, particularly in Russia, was hard and short: he died of consumption at the age of 25 (1862-1887).

The original does rhyme - I did not have much time and had to choose between rhyme and rhythm. The translation is virtually literal. I would not do it if I could find one online - I have not looked for any hard copy ones. I did it at my wife's request. She thought it was still relevant and instructive. I agree. Please point out and forgive any errors - my English is far from perfect.
Я рос тебе чужим, отверженный народ,
И не тебе я пел в минуты вдохновенья.
Твоих преданий мир, твоей печали гнет
Мне чужд, как и твои ученья.

И если б ты, как встарь, был счастлив и силен,
И если б не был ты унижен целым светом, -
Иным стремлением согрет и увлечен,
Я б не пришел к тебе с приветом.

Но в наши дни, когда под бременем скорбей
Ты гнешь чело свое и тщетно ждешь спасенья,
В те дни, когда одно название "еврей"
В устах толпы звучит как символ отверженья,

Когда твои враги, как стая жадных псов,
На части рвут тебя, ругаясь над тобою, -
Дай скромно стать и мне в ряды твоих бойцов,
Народ, обиженный судьбою!

1885
I grew apart from you, the nations’ outcast.
It was not you, to whom I sang my songs, inspired.
Your tribulations’ weight, your torments' burden are
All alien to me, as are your tales and teachings.

And if you, as of yore, were happy and were strong,
And weren’t, as you are, debased in every corner, -
It wouldn’t be to you, to whom I would belong.
I wouldn’t come to you, consumed by some endeavor.

But when, aggrieved, in vain, you lower your head,
By miseries beset, you’re crying for salvation,
And when your very name, derided as is “Jew”,
Is in the crowd’s lips a symbol of pariah,

When enemies of yours, a pack of greedy dogs,
Are tearing you apart, defaming and maligning -
Allow me to stand with you, confronting fate,
And let me take my place among your humble fighters!

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