A Truly Horrible Translation

Look at what they have done to Vinokurov:

Door #1:

When you try at the rip cord.

And the parachute does not open

And there beneath you lie endless forests

And it is plain that you will not be saved.

There is no longer anything to cling to

No longer anyone to be met on the way

Spread your arms softly, like a bird

And enfolding space, fly.

There is no way back, no time to go balmy

And only one solution: the simplest

For the first time to compose yourself

And to fall with the universal void in your embrace.


Door #2:

When you’re pulling the ring that is usually spared,

And your last parachute is not working at all,

And the endless of woods under you is expanded,

— And it’s clear, that none would save you from the fall,

And there’s not such a thing to hang on – not a single –

And there’s nothing to meet in the boundless sky,

— Then spread out your arms very wide, like an eagle,

And, embracing expansion, just fly.

There’s nowhere to back to, no time to get balmy,

And the only way out could simply be sought:

First in your own life to behave very calmly,

And to fall coupled with emptiness of world.


A Truly Horrible Translation

7 thoughts on “A Truly Horrible Translation

    1. LOL

      My tortured prose in that comment was an effort to argue that hiking FF is not inflationary, and that, moreover, the CB cannot set the short rate to be whatever it wants, as it needs to keep the health of the banks in mind. That’s part of the whole interest-elasticity of investment debate with the MMT crowd.

  1. Piotrek says:

    Ok, would it work the other way? Would rapidly lowering rates from say 20% to 0% also throw banks out of balance?

    Again: where do I read more on this?

    Thanks a lot!

  2. vjk says:

    Why ‘Door’ ?

    It’s called, in the original, just ‘When the parachute does not open’.

    Russian verse -> English is a pretty hopeless endeavor, although I am not a person to pass judgment on that, not being that much interested in verse in general.

    The E->R Shakespeare, on the other hand, by Pasternak, is not bad, but see above :).

  3. Peter D says:

    This is one of the poems I memorized as a child!
    Yeah, what are the “Doors”?
    “When you’re pulling the ring that is usually spared” – haha, you have to give points for trying, a t least. Most of translations into English are not rhymed and rarely metered as the originals from other languages. Apparently, it is hard to rhyme in English. Which is surprising to me, because when I was translating Kipling to Russian (as a teenager) I used to think it was actually much harder to find Russian rhymes than English. Or think of Poe’s “Raven” with the endless “-ore” rhymes (to rhyme with “nevermore”) – pretty hard to find enough Russian rhymes with “nikogda” so that the poem doesn’t sound forced.
    Anyway, I’m babbling. I came here to augment my economics education – almost 100% of which is from MMT blogs 🙂 – so, it’s surprising in a cool way to find lines from my childhood here!

  4. Peter D says:

    So, obviously, this is a translation by a Russian guy, and it is “horrible”, but I still find that I am very biased towards rhymed verse translations. The rhyme and meter have this special power that just fools my brain into connecting with the poem more than just blank verse. The first (literal) translation has almost no emotional impact on me. The second, as horrible as it is, both grammatically and stylistically, still manages to convey more than the first. I can actually discount all the bad stuff, abstract from it and almost enjoy it as a poem. Not so with the literal translation…

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