Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Group 1: Amina A., Andre F., Karl B., Keenan M., Mitchell Z., Nicolas B.

Please select comments and follow the Letter Guidelines for your posts to the exchange.


Nicolas B., Chalmers said...

Hello folks!
I am Nicolas, a French exchange student studying sustainable energy systems at Chalmers. In France, I study mechanical engineering. Since I am in Sweden, I am learning basic Swedish. Therefore, I will mainly work with the English translations of the poems.
I choose to focus on the translation from May Swenson because she seems to respect the “shape” of the poem to a greater extent than the other translators.
On feeling that hits me is stillness.
Indeed, each poem seems to describe places frozen in the night, as if all life was asleep, hidden. Even in the “moving part” of I Det Fria [In the Clear], the scene observed from the jet plane is “like an instantaneous photograph of something in rapid motion”. This leaves room for feelings, impressions, to appear.
The night landscape in Spår [Track] also expresses this feeling of stillness, with only hints from a distant, hidden life (“Far off sparks of light from a town, flickering coldly on the horizon”).
Another thought I have is more about translations and interpretation, especially with Andrum: Juli [Breathing Room: July]. We can call this the lost in translation syndrome.
The comparison between the translations from Sven Borei and May Swenson is particularly striking: with a few changes, the poems seems to change completely. The version from Sven is really dark, with a feeling of lack of control (“sits in a catapult seat released in ultra-rapid”). The events here happens too fast to be caught, when in the May’s translation, the speed is slower (“slow motion”), which gives time to have more elaborated thoughts than just pure impressions.
The last keyword I choose is contrast.
There is contrast in the translation, as seen above, but also in the poems themselves. “evil and good have opposite faces” (In the Clear), the “vertical lake”, the play with life and death, day and night. The “instantaneous photograph of something in rapid motion” also gives that feeling of contrast.

Karl B,. Chalmers said...

Hello everybody! My name is Karl and I’m currently studding the first year of my masters theisis in Biotechnology here at Chalmers, it will be great to make your acquaintance.

Here is my brief analysis of Breathing Space Juli (Andrum Juli). In keyword analysis I will be referring to Robert Bly’s translation since it is the one that most clearly distinguishes between the three settings: under a tree, by the docks and in a boat, all three stanzas are seperated by “The man who...” that was “Den som...” in the original poem.

Summertime – As stated in the title Breathing Space Juli is set to summertime and the naturalistic elements of trees and water are put forward with warmth and calmness that are typical for the season.

Illumination – studying the trees from beneath will most likely involve the sun illuminating the leaves and branches in some way. In the second stanza bright light reflected from the water makes the man who stands at the dock screw up his eyes, and in the third stanza light from the clear sky (interpretated from “open boat” – nothing to hold him, no roof on the boat and no roof of clouds) and light illuminating the water will give a blueish feeling so strong that it follows you into your sleep.

Peace of mind – the settings in each stanza is naturalistic and peaceful. “catapult chair that hurtles forward in slow motion” – a drastic mean for transportation that could imply chaotic movement of mind, but when set to slow motion the flight is characterized by control and ease. The man “lies in his back” (first stanza), “stands down at the dock” (second stanza) and “spends a whole day in an open boat” (third stanza), these are positions of a man that indulges tranquility and peace of mind.

It is interesting how Tomas Tranströmer’s original poem is set to one single stanza while Bly’s translation is set to three. In the original poem the phrase “Den som” (“The man who”) is recurring three times so it feels natural that the poem could be divided into three stanzas, each representing change in activity and setting. Since Tranströmer and Bly had a close relation there is reason to believe that they discussed the stanza set-up at some occasion and it would be very interesting to take part in that reasoning.

Looking forward to reading your analysis!
Best regards
Karl Almén Burman

Andre F said...

Hello everyone. My name is Andre and I study automotive engineering at the masters level here at Chalmers. As my grasp of Swedish is pretty basic I will be focussing on the translations of Spår. Why Spår? Well, of the three poems this was the one that really called out to me. I guess its partly due to my engineering background. Large pieces of 19th machinery to me seem noble – honest and steadfast. The song 'Princess of the night' by Saxon comes to mind. Another reason is perhaps because I appreciate poetry that talks to you and leaves you with a feeling of 'sublime solitude'.
I guess that of the two translations, I prefer the Mary Swenson version. It seems that Swenson has captured the feeling of solitude far better than Robert Bly. One of the main points of contrast between the two versions is the use of the words 'flickering' and 'twinkling'. Flickering seems to not suit the poem in the sense that it is a bit too brash. The image I have in my mind is a large steam locomotive hissing silently as the engineers go about whatever business brought them to a halt and the word 'twinkle' is better suited to that interpretaion because it serves to keep the scene peaceful.
Another feeling I get is that of 'detachment'. The poet seeks to distance the reader from the town. This reinforces the feeling of solitude which I feel is the main focus of the poem. This combined with the setting evokes a long supressed feeling of harmony between nature,oneself and ones creation. Think about it as nature being harsh yet beautiful – and now rendered toothless by our technology. The time 2am is also significant for it is when human activity is at its lowest and the ones who are awake feel a sense of oneness with the cosmos – undiluted by the hubub caused during the day by our fellow men.
Well those are my thoughts on Spår. I look forward to your comments.

Keenan M said...

Hey Everyone, my name is Keenan and i am studying English and Communications at Clemson university. I hope postings help to bring a better understanding of the poems and our languages in general.

I will be discussing the not only the linguistics for both of the translations of the first poem Track, but also the differences between the two english translations as well.

First off are the linguistic characteristics of the poem. The poem has very short and 'straight to the point' stanzas. The wording in the poem is not at all difficult to comprehend. The words seem to give good explanations and paint images for the poem, even with using simple words and phrases. The wording in the first english translation pertaining to the position of the train..i found painted a perfect image in my mind.

Secondly, although the meaning does not change, the difference in wording does change between the two poems. I found that between the first poem, being written by male, and the second poem, being written by a female, there are key differences in wording. One example of this is in the first poem, the author translates it to say 'the train has stopped out in the field', whereas in the second translation, the author states 'the train has stopped in the middle of the plain'. I have found that this and several other examples are all reasons to see how a difference in sex by the translator of a poem, can change wording completely. The female translation seems to have a softer, emotional tone, whereas the male translator's version seems to give more of a straight, descriptive tone.

In conclusion, i have found this poem to be very well written, taking into account both of the translations as a whole. I do feel that the translations wording changed between the two english translators because of their sex.

Mitch Zandes said...

Hello Everybody,

My name is Mitchell Zandes. I am an 18 year-old freshman from Stony Brook, New York. I am currently pursuing a degree in English at Clemson University. However, I am uncertain if this is the right major for me. Still, I have a unique gift for writing and journalism, and I am developing my ability to analyze poetry and literature.
The first time I read Robert Bly’s Track and May Swenson’s Tracks, I was very confused. I could not quite understand how each translation was different. When I received the assignment sheet for writing this letter in class, I looked over the poems once again, and certain phrases jumped off the page this time. These phrases changed the meaning of each translation for me completely. They helped me discover that Robert Bly’s version was all about despair, while May Swenson’s was focused on hope. These contrasting ideas are prevalent in every person’s life, and could possibly reflect the writers’ state of mind while they were translating the original poem.
Robert Bly seemed to have interpreted the poem in a way that left little hope in life. The phrases that made me realize this were “out in a field” and “flickering”. While mentioning the position of the train, it sounds as if it is completely lost. They are simply “out in a field”, which is not very promising. Also, “flickering” makes it seem like the light from the town is fading. It has a negative connotation that the little light that is left is about to disappear, and darkness will take over. This creates an image that the train is now stuck in the middle of nowhere with out having light to guide it. The second time he uses “flickering” he refers to someone who is ill. By titling their days as “flickering”, he is adding no hope at all. It is sure that their days will end soon for they have surrendered to their sickness.
In comparison, it is May Swenson’s use of “middle of the plain” and “twinkle” in place of the others that provide the sense of hope that Bly lacks. By being located in the middle, the train knows exactly where it is positioned. It does not have to worry about being absorbed in the darkness, for the town is “twinkling” on the horizon. The word “twinkle” gives us a feeling of security because the light is strong and hopeful. Furthermore, when she refers to someone who is ill she also uses “twinkle”. This gives hope for numerous days of life and hope for recovery. The word “twinkle” made me think of stars because that is how their image is often described. Stars never fade; they shine on for hundreds of thousands of years.
As you can see, Bly and Swenson interpreted this poem in very different ways. Even the title gives hint to the theme of hope vs. despair. Bly uses “Track”, while Swenson preferred “Tracks”. This offers the idea that there are many different paths in life; that even when you are stuck or ill, the journey continues on and anything can happen. Bly makes it seem as though life is a dead-end road, one track, one way, an ending.
I hope you all enjoyed my interpretation of these poems, as I am excited to here yours.

Best Regards,
Mitchell Zandes

Amina Ali said...

Dear Group Members,
Hello, I am Amina Ali. Sorry to be getting here a little late, I have been sick for the past few days. A little something about myself, I am a freshman at Clemson University majoring in English in hopes of becoming a writer/journalist.
Track or Tracks are poems, translated from the original Swedish author Tomas Tranströmer by Robert Bly and May Swenson. I find these works very different from one another. Both translations tell the same story of a sickly man.
The first poem, Track, translated by Robert Bly gives off cold, distant impressions made by him with his descriptions. I noticed that Bly often uses the term “flickering” making it seem as if the man’s dream is just a passing by. I also find that the title of the poem Track is non-plural. Usually the word “track” describes a path or paths taken. Since it is not plural the impression given is that the man who is dreaming is on this one path that holds great importance to him which he can never remember.
Tracks, translated by May Swenson is a more formal, descriptive poem rather than Bly’s frank interpretation. In opposition to the word “flickering”, Swenson uses “twinkling” in a much greater contrast “twinkling” has a pleasant, warmer sound that is almost magical. It does not nearly sound as rough as Robert Bly’s translation.
I also found that in the last two stanzas of the works the last line of the poems, Bly writes, “strong moonlight” and Swenson, “full moonlight.” The word “strong” itself opposes the entire work, where the man is weak and sick, that the word gives a sense of reassurance that maybe the man will become better again. Whereas the term that Swenson uses, “full moonlight”, gives a sense of content and peacefulness is what the man finds in his dream.
I hope you enjoyed reading my view on the poem and I look forward to reading yours as well. Sorry again for being late on this assignment.
Best Regards,
Amina Ali

Amina Ali said...

Dear Group Members,
Hello, I am Amina Ali. Sorry to be getting here a little late, I have been sick for the past few days. A little something about myself, I am a freshman at Clemson University majoring in English in hopes of becoming a writer/journalist.
Track or Tracks are poems, translated from the original Swedish author Tomas Tranströmer by Robert Bly and May Swenson. I find these works very different from one another. Both translations tell the same story of a sickly man.
The first poem, Track, translated by Robert Bly gives off cold, distant impressions made by him with his descriptions. I noticed that Bly often uses the term “flickering” making it seem as if the man’s dream is just a passing by. I also find that the title of the poem Track is non-plural. Usually the word “track” describes a path or paths taken. Since it is not plural the impression given is that the man who is dreaming is on this one path that holds great importance to him which he can never remember.
Tracks, translated by May Swenson is a more formal, descriptive poem rather than Bly’s frank interpretation. In opposition to the word “flickering”, Swenson uses “twinkling” in a much greater contrast “twinkling” has a pleasant, warmer sound that is almost magical. It does not nearly sound as rough as Robert Bly’s translation.
I also found that in the last two stanzas of the works the last line of the poems, Bly writes, “strong moonlight” and Swenson, “full moonlight.” The word “strong” itself opposes the entire work, where the man is weak and sick, that the word gives a sense of reassurance that maybe the man will become better again. Whereas the term that Swenson uses, “full moonlight”, gives a sense of content and peacefulness is what the man finds in his dream.
I hope you enjoyed reading my view on the poem and I look forward to reading yours as well. Sorry again for being late on this assignment.
Best Regards,
Amina Ali

Karl Burman, Letter 2 said...

Hello everybody!
Now this is neat, I'm the only one so knee deep in Swedish that I can analyze the poem in respect to Tranströmers original, what power I hold. ;)

First of all I would like to thank you for your interesting analyses of Track/Tracks, it was a well written and thought inspiring read. The difference between the translations as a result of having been written by different genders was an interesting remark made by Keenan. But I also feel it is very important to consider a poets earlier works to put the translation into context rather than draw conclusions from the gender. Still it is an important remark that a writers cultural, ethnical background (and to some degree his or her gender) can very much contribute to their artistic expression and feel.

Mitchell and Amina, you both regarded the important difference between "twinkling" (May Svensson) and "flickering" (Robert Bly). Since I very much agree with your reasoning that "twinkling" has got a more positivist feel than "flicker" this is a point that increased my knowledge of the poem and its translations. I would like to give you an comparison between these two translations and the original poem by Tranströmer:
Tranströmer uses the Swedish word "flimra" which is an adjective used to describe for example a TV-screen full of black and white noise, or the wavelike movement of a mirage far away. According to the dictionary by the Swedish Language Council "flimra" would translate to "flicker" or "shimmer", so by language translation definition Robert Bly has the "more accurate" translation. This would also correspond well with the close relation between Tranströmer and Bly, that they most likely discussed the different means for translating similar values of the words into the stanzas of the translation.

Thank you for the means to increase my knowledge of this poetry, looking forward to reading your comments.
Best regards
Karl Burman

MItch Zandes said...

Hello Again,

After reading all of your responses, I am beginning to notice more and more about the poems, especially Track(s). I noticed that the majority of us decided to analyze these translations, which is completely understandable due to the image it paints in our minds and the feeling it gives us while we are reading it.

First off, I would like to comment on Keenan’s analysis. Keenan, you did a great job by recognizing differences in gender. This is something I did not even think of prior to reading your post. I believe gender played a huge role in the way the writers translated the poem. Society holds the norms that men are supposed to be masculine, making them less sensitive. Also, men are seen as being more involved with themes related to horror and less optimistic endings. On the other hand, women are viewed as peaceful, loving individuals who lean towards a happy, hopeful ending or message in the end. Although these are generalizations, they seem to be consistent amongst the majority of individuals. So, in addition to what I had to say in my first post, it is very possible that the authors’ genders played a role in how they viewed the poem, which would explain their decisions to use such contrasting words as “twinkling” and “flickering”.

Secondly, I believe Andre had a great idea in his final paragraph, in which he used the word “detachment”. My interpretation of the light from town I the distance was that it was the train’s guidance through the night. However, I could also see it as being a place of what you dubbed “solitude” for the passengers. It gives a peaceful tone for both translations, for the passengers are out in the middle of nowhere, with nothing but the moonlight. This makes them more in touch with their inner selves and those around them. The still night is a brief hiatus from the troubles, crowdedness, and constant noise of the industrialized world.

Well I’d love to say more, but once again I am way over 300 words. Hope you all are doing well and I am looking forward to reading the remainder of posts.

Mitchell Zandes

Nicolas, Letter 2 said...

Hi all!

Your responses give me a greater understanding of the poems, and what can explain the differences in feelings given by the different translations.

I particularly agree with Mitchell on the contrast between hope and despair in the different translations. This contrast appears in Tracks, but also in Breathing room. This is particularly obvious if you compare the translation from Sven Borei and the one from May Swenson (and even more if you notice the title of the book from Sven: 'Dark Adaptation'). And again, as noticed by Amina, the woman seems to have more hope than the man, but I think this can also be because of their personal history. Anyway, this is really interesting how theses little changes in words can give a totally different understanding of the poem. Even in the titles: 'Track' or 'Tracks', as mentioned before, but also 'Breathing Room' and 'Breathing Space'. The room is something closed, whereas the idea of space gives a feeling of freedom I would say.

An other interesting point I feel comfortable with is the notion of solitude and harmony mentioned by Andre. I think that this feeling of 'detachment' is what make these poems so powerfull. This allow the reader to slow down, and to only focus on its impressions, without trying to act upon its environment. 'as if in a catapult seat outflung in slow motion': you have no control, so you don't try to have some. You just stop acting and only look at your environment, and feel pure emotions. When you have no control on your surroundings, you become more aware of the details, and you tend to interpret more. And even the small details have their importance then, like the 'small sounds' in the forest (In the Clear).

Keen to read from you all again !


Andre F, Letter 2 said...

Hello again folks!It was very interesting to read your letters. Keenan and Mitchell's comments on gender influence were very interesting to read. I agree with the notion that gender does indeed play a role in the way the poem was translated. Mitch - to clarify, my feelings on the town are similar to your own. It is indeed a goal but I dont imagine it to be a place of solitude.

Keenans comments on the liguistics of the poem are also very interesting. I feel that Swedish is by nature a precise language(the word “precis” - literally “exactly” is an often used exclamation) and perhaps the poem demonstrates this aspect. In the clear & Andrum juli however do not. Karl,your thoughts on this would be much appreciated.

I thought it was very interesting to see just how much the “feel” of the poem changes with a single word – the translation of “flimra” to “twinkle” and “flicker” in this case. I flipped open my Ordbok(dictionary) and found an example of the use of flimra - “my eyes are dazzled”. However I think the word may also be used to describe the gentle motion of flagella and so the words usage depends on the context of the situation. Viewed from this perspective it seems to me that May Swenson's translation is the more accurate one.

Again it was great reading all of your impressions!


Amina Ali, Letter 2 said...

Dear Group Members,
Hello again, I enjoyed reading all of your thoughts about the various poems. Here is my response to your analysis.
I find Nicolas’ description of May Swenson’s translation, which he says makes him sense “stillness”, is very interesting. I agree with Nicolas about the “moving part” from In the Clear, I think that the usage of the word “photograph” rightfully depicts the feeling of stillness in the work.
Karl made a good observation of Robert Bly’s translation, Breathing Space July, where “illumination” is used as an element in the poem. I never thought of it that way before, but I completely agree. Illumination gives the sense that if the man is under the sun he must be feeling the warmth of the sunlight. I think that the author uses contrast of illumination as well though; where Bly uses phrases such as “under huge trees” (first stanza) gives the impression that the man who is sprawled out under the trees is going to be in the cool shade. Also in the second and third stanzas Bly uses the words “silver-gray” and “shade of his blue lamp” adding on to a sense of coolness and calmness.

Keenan makes a very good point about the having translators of different genders play a crucial role in the rendition of the work. I also like how Mitch coincides usage of the words “flickering” and “twinkling” with hope. Although I do have to admit that Andre’s interpretation of Track(s) is what got my attention. Focusing on the outer elements that Andre uses to describe the poem like nature that captures the peacefulness of the town and how the stillness of the train grabs a hold of the time (2 am).
I look forward to reading your replies again soon.
Best Regards,
Amina Ali

Karl Burman, Letter 3 said...

Hello again everybody!
Your letters were as usually a very interesting and inspiring read, a nice remedy for the spring break that are closing in on its last days here in Gothenburg.

We have all of us in some way touched the subject of authors with different gender translating the poems and th effects of it. It is indeed a really interesting aspect.
Mitch reflected on sexual norms in society, and I agree that these generalizations are, as you put it, “consistent amongst the majority of individuals”. For example masculine as a insensitive stereotype are often transcended within poetry as you need a great deal of sensitivity to formulate reality – vague impressions and small contrasts – as poetry.
For those modern poets who partly or fully make a living from the artistic formulations of words into meaning, I don’t think these generalizations are applicable for these artists of modern society, where the transcendence from stereotypes is a well formulated claim among many writers. There is, hopefully, other considerations included into the translations than if the author wore pink or blue during their childhood years, this I think can be derived from earlier works and influences rather than gender.
We are never free from our social context, but I feel that authors are more keen to question them. Consider works by Amy Tan, Franz Kafka, Isabell Allende, Heinrich Böll and Jeanette Winterson, it’s not hard to find acclaimed writers where men describe reality with great sensitivity or women write stories with horror and grim endings.

I agree with you, André, that the expressions of Track/Tracks are over all more substantial than Breathing space July linguistically speaking, but mainly in the first part and in the end: “2 a.m.”, “he will not remember”, “strong moonlight, few stars” – these are clear statements. But “his days all become some flickering sparks”, contains a more dreamy feel, interpolating the original setting into distant thought. It is hard to say if this relates to Swedish as a precise language or Tranströmers artistic expression, but it is without a doubt worth looking into.

I must say that this cross-cultural discussion have contributed greatly to my understanding of Tranströmers poetry: Together we have put forward many aspects of how translations can adjust the emotions triggered of an poem, each new poet puts something personal into the original so that the result is also an offspring between two poets rather than only the original in another language.
Poetry is artistic and cultural expression in an accessible form that I very much appreciate and admire, to be able to put forward condensed meaning in such a well thought through formate I think all poets deserve our admiration.

For what most interested me about this discussion was the passion with which all of the group members dug into the poetry, it has been a great joy reading and being inspired by such ambition as to understand literature as you have shown. Thank you!

For expressing the mood of Breathing space July I have chosen “Fields of gold” by Sting for its peaceful tone and solitude:

Nicolas, Letter 3 said...

This letter will end a very interesting exchange about Tranströmer's poetry, and I have to thank you for your very interesting comments.

I agree with Andre and Keenan about the importance of the linguistic in the poems. The choice of the words gives a general feeling about the scenes described, and the different translations play on this aspect. I agree with Karl: gender play a part in this, but I think it is in the context of the social and cultural background of the authors. Yes, I said “authors” because I think that translating a text is not neutral: when the translator has the possibility of choosing one word instead of another, he will try to pass his/her impressions, his/her feelings too. The Sven Borei's translation of “Andrum Juli” is a good example of this: Sven has deliberately given a dark tone to the poem. The scene described is the same, but the feeling given is different, darker than the May's translation for example. As the title of Sven's book suggests, these choices can be either deliberate or unconscious, depending on the intention of the translator. The translator can choose not to totally pass what the author wanted to, and this leads to the question of the neutrality of the translator. I think that in translated poetry, you will feel a mix between what the author and the translator wanted to pass.

This cross-cultural discussion has given me the opportunity to have a deeper insight of poetry (I usually read fiction book, like ones from Åke Edwardson or Fred Vargas) and make me discover Tranströmer, who I didn't know before (shame on me). The discussions were really interesting, and have helped me to better understand how the translations can make different impressions, depending on the translator's background. The different points raised during the discussion have also helped me to better understand what can make a poem giving so different impressions, and what can be expressed “behind the words”.

One picture which make me have the same feeling of frozen movement, of still-life, is this picture. I think you can find the same impression of frozen movement as in “Spår”, where the train is stopped in the middle of nowhere. Still on a track, so not really lost, but the feeling is like if the time has stopped, like a glimpse of eternity.

Keenan Mussey 3rd Response said...

Hey Everyone,
I would first like to thank all of you who contributed towards this project. I Enjoyed reading all of the response in turn with creating a better understanding of the differences and similarities of how each of us translated the poems into our own thinking. I wish all of you the best of luck in whatever endeavors you encounter.

Onto my last response, i would like to take a difference approach. In previous responses, i have noticed although our insights have all been of great importance and have brought better understanding to the poems, i feel as though if i continued to write on the linguistics and gender roles behind the poems, i will eventually be repeating myself to some extent. Instead of repeating myself, I have decided to take each individual visual object chosen and try to understand, through my own eyes, what it represents in elation to the poem it coincides with.

Karl's piece was from the vast capabilities known as youtube. Although at first, youtube could be thought of as a place to find laughter through humorous videos, it is possible to find tranquility and meaning to the videos there as well. I believe that this song/video captures the idea of the Labyrinth poem quite perfectly. The dark blue, grey shades give the video a gloomy, yet mysterious feel, which does not necessarily have to be thought of as a negative thing. Leaving out the actually lyrics of the song, the tone, and music only add to the long, winding effect of the setting in the video. The music gives off calm, bluesy characteristics that only further my reason as to why this was the perfect choice.

Nicolas used an image to capture the mood of frozen movement and still-life. I found that this picture acted as a great model to show the exact mood he was looking to uncover. THe background, giving off a the fog, and distance, puts great imagery into my mind. The color tone, being set in black and white, do this as well. In the foreground, we have the emptiness, which, similarly in my response to Karl's video, this emptiness does not have to be thought of as a negative thing, as it typically is. The lack of movement and 'emptiness' could bring a calming tranquility to anyone who sets eyes on this picture, which I believe is the same reasoning behind the poem which went with it.

For my visual technique, and after reading through Andrum Juli, in combination with the other poems, i immediately thought of the Dave Matthews Band video for 'Crash into Me'.

Though this video is much faster and to a greater pace then Karls, i believe it captures the artistic feel and tone of the poem. The wooded setting, along with the tranquil dancers all give the effect i am trying to portray. I would really like you all to watch it, and give your opinions with reasons behind them, Thank you all again. -Keenan

Andre F, Letter 3 said...

Hey everyone,

First off I would like to thank everyone for their wonderful insights. It was great reading everyones impressions.
This whole exercise has given my understanding of poetry a huge boost. I think poetry is simply fabulous in that it can evoke
a whole spectrum of feelings in different people using very few words. The effect of translation in poetry was a concept completely new to me and very interesting.

While I would be simply reiterating earlier posts by commenting further on certain key elements in our analysis of Transtromers
I would like to add a bit on Karls thoughts about mordern artists transcending stereotypes.I find this very interesting.
The 'universality' of mordern poetry and indeed literature is something that in my eyes has been picking up speed. What will this
mean to the creative impulses used by the artists of the future? What has the trend been over the past two decades? These are things
that I will certainly look into. Anyway thats just my two cents coming from an artistic layman.

What a cool idea to relate ones interpretation of poetry to music and pictures! I think poetry and music in particular can combine to
evoke some pretty powerful emotions in the reader/listener.Pink floyd for one,is a great artist to listen to while reading poetry such as
Spår.I recently had the opportunity to take in a scene similar to my visualization of Spårs setting while listening to Pink floyd and it was superb. Try to imagine this video set to "comfortably numb" and slowed down slightly and youll see where im getting at.

Well folks,once again it has been great reading all your responses and I wish you all the best in your endevours.

Best regards,

Amina Ali Letter 3 said...

Hello Everyone,

I would just like to say that it was a pleasure to work with all of you on this cross cultural collaboration and wish you all the best in the future.

Now, the first thing I would like to point out is that when I read everyone’s second letter I realized that two of you had used similar sources (the dictionary) but came out with different perspectives. Karl wrote that Robert Bly’s Track was more accurate while Andre said the opposite, believing that May Swenson’s translation is the more correct version. I do not know which one of you is the most fluent in Swedish, I (personally) feel though either one could be the correct translation. Because, even though “flimra” translates (as Karl states) into “flicker” or “shimmer”, I feel like twinkle and shimmer are closely related words which would bring us back to Swenson’s translation. These are two translations that differ so much that even discussing its likeness or accuracy would cause us to run around in circles all day long (bringing us back to the same conclusion).

The second and last point I would like to make is that I noticed that Mitch and Nicholas both make a comment about ‘detachment’ and ‘solitude’, as being represented in the poem (Track/Tracks), which was first observed by Andre. I see that both Mitch and Nicholas’ interpretation of Andre’s surveillance is seen as harmonic, peaceful and comfortable. I agree with what they both have to say about the contrast of outside world and its noises, it is a good point that brings much awareness to the outside environment.

The picture I choose is Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night (Picture), I think it describes both the points that Andre and Karl make as well as depicting both translations of Tomas Tranströmer’s poem (Track(s)). The dark colors that van Gogh uses give the picture a peaceful, quiet look. The yellow of the moon and stars in the sky is makes a huge contrast against the dark blues and blacks. This goes back to Tranströmer’s poem, whether or not he meant “flicker” or “twinkle” (when he wrote about the man’s days), where the light stands out against the dark. When you think about it, you know that stars have the ability to flicker/twinkle in the sky from far away and disappear into the darkness which can be represented as the man’s memories fading away.

I want to say again that it was great to work with you all again.

Best Regards,
Amina Ali

Mitch Zandes said...

Hello Again,

I’m so glad to have heard all of your thoughtful responses and that you share common thoughts on the translations of these wonderful poems. This really has been a great experience, and I hope all of you feel the same way. Time and time again, I will read poems, analyze them, and then be completely insecure with my analysis. I get worried that what I am noticing is completely invisible to others, and that my thoughts are downright incorrect. By hearing what others think, and reluctantly discovering that they share my own ideas, I receive a great confidence boost and reassurance on my mental stability. This assignment alone has made me more comfortable to think beyond obvious meanings in the poems and reach for ideas that may seem strange or far-fetched. Also, the ability to send and receive this feedback at such a fast pace allows me to realize the logistics of my ideas and how to make them more concrete.

With the emergence of the mass use and globalization of the Internet, the exchange of information amongst humans is greater than ever. It doesn’t matter if an individual is in Athens, Georgia or Athens, Greece; they will receive information at the same rate. Thus, the visual image I chose was of planet Earth in one’s own hands.

The reason I chose this image is because of the advantages the Internet gives us today, which are clearly reflected in the completion of this assignment. It is definitely cliché to say, “I have the world in the palm of my hands” but it truly is the feeling I had while communicating with those in Sweden. It amazes me that I can talk to someone hundreds of thousands of miles away as quick as I can talk to my roommate on the other side of the room.

It also allows all of us to get an idea of how people from other parts of the world view things (poetry in this case). From what our group recorded on the blog, it is obvious that those across seas share similar ideas on themes behind poetry. This leads me to ponder if math and science are the only universal languages in the world. Could poetry be considered universal as well?

I know that this is our last response so none of you will answer this, but it is something I would like you to think about. It was great conversing with you guys and I hope for the best for you in the future.

Truly Yours,

MItchell Zandes