DIRECTIONS FOR TODAY:  Write a “translation” of a poem in a language you don’t actually know. Go to the Poetry International Language List, pick a language, and then follow it to a poet and a poem.


Interesting idea.  I went to the site and selected a poem in Icelandic, since my father in law was 100 percent Icelandic and didn’t speak any English until he went to public schools in North Dakota at the age of 5.  Here’s the original, my treatment of it, and then an accurate translation….



(© 2007, GerðurKristný
From: Höggstaður)

Hægt eins og búrhveli
líðum við gegnum sortann
sem er hvítur
hér á heiðinni

Hann er fastheldinn á sitt
og gefur aðeins eftir
eina stiku í einu

Örskamma stund leiftra þær
í vegarkantinum
eins og eldspýtur
litlu stúlkunnar í ævintýrinu
og lýsa okkur
þar til við komum aftur
upp í vök
að blása


(my version)



His once and beautiful

Colorful video went through

Some form of heaven


He was fastened to a chair

And almost fell asleep after

One stick stuck him in the eye.


Others stood to the left

Stunned to the point of being vegetables

At least one or another

Was a literary genius of aviation

And listened closer

But until someone came after him so

He threw up

and burped.


(actual translation)


( Translation: 2008, VictoriaCribb)

Slow as sperm whales
we glide through the gloom
which is white
here on the heath

It holds fast to its own
conceding only
one post at a time

For an instant they flash
on the side of the road
like the little girl’s matches
in the fairytale
lighting us
until we return
to the hole in the ice
to breathe