NaPoWriMo Day 16: So Totally Lost in Translation

This one is very wacky. This doesn’t even qualify as a poem. I do not even presume to call this a poem.  I don’t really know what it is–besides wacky. The Day 16 prompt is to take a poem which is written in a foreign language and attempt to translate it only by looking at the words–their form and their sound–and draw our own uneducated conclusions about what they mean. However obviously wrong and absurd these ideas of the translation are. I only ‘translated’ half of the original Spanish poem, Patas Arriba Con La Vida (Head Over Heels with Life) by Maria Mercedes Carranza, because at this point I was tired of doing fake translations. Fake translations are exhausting. Fake poems are exhausting. This is the worst NaPoWriMo prompt to date.

The original:

Moriré mortal,
es decir habiendo pasado
por este mundo
sin romperlo ni mancharlo.
No inventé ningún vicio,
pero gocé de todas las virtudes:
arrendé mi alma
a la hipocresía: he traficado
con las palabras,
con los gestos, con el silencio;
cedí a la mentira:
he esperado la esperanza,
he amado el amor,
y hasta algún día pronuncié
la palabra Patria;
acepté el engaño:
he sido madre, ciudadana,
hija de familia, amiga,
compañera, amante.
Creí en la verdad:
dos y dos son cuatro,
María Mercedes debe nacer,
crecer, reproducirse y morir
y en esas estoy.
Soy un dechado del siglo XX.
Y cuando el miedo llega
me voy a ver televisión
para dialogar con mis mentiras.

My translation:

We are more mortal;
if we decide, what must happen will come to pass
just as it must.
Some might be rumpled, or munched.
No inventing; noon guns are vicious,
peril goes there today; lost virtue.
Errands are my armour;
in the hypocrisy lies his traffic.
Can’t last; pearl and brass.
Can’t lose by jesting, can’t silence it;
he said it was like a mantra:
he especially and desperately left the bonanza.
He made it all the more,
while hasty altogether their pronunciation;
the parable Patriot;
accepting the engine.

The actual translation:

I will die mortal,
that is to say having passed
through this world
without breaking or staining it.
I didn’t invent a single vice,
but I tasted all the virtues:
I leased my soul
to hypocrisy: I have trafficked
with words,
with signs, with silence;
I surrendered to the lie:
I have hoped for hope,
I have loved love,
and one day I even pronounced
the words My Country;
I accepted the hoax:
I have been mother, citizen,
daughter, friend,
companion, lover;
I believed in the truth:
two and two are four,
María Mercedes ought to be born,
ought to grow, reproduce herself and die
and that’s what I’m doing.
I am the sampler of the 20th century.
And when fear arrives
I go to watch television
to have a dialogue with my lies.

Wow, I was so close.




7 thoughts on “NaPoWriMo Day 16: So Totally Lost in Translation

      1. It is nonsense! But it’s nonsense made me laugh. A lot! Very funny indeed. Love how u translated the words; classic really.

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