Remember a couple of weeks ago I featured the poem by Sappho, and linked to a page that showed a bunch of different translations of it? It got me kind of interested in the whole process of translating poetry into English, and what vastly different interpretations can result from different translators. Well, I found a web page that shows several of Bashō’s haiku, as translated by three people: R.H. Blyth, Lucien Stryck, and Peter Beilenson. Here’s an example:
From time to time
The clouds give rest
To the moon beholders.
a chance to dodge
Glorious the moon
therefore our thanks, dark clouds
come to rest our necks.
Wild, isn’t it? I think my favorite is the first one — it’s simple and elegant, which is what I generally appreciate about good haiku. But the Stryck version has a sardonic appeal, too. Beilenson’s is a little florid compared to the other two.
For even more adventures in comparing translations, here’s 30 different versions of Bashō’s frog haiku.
Need more poetry? Of course you do. Go see what the other Poetry Friday posters are up to at Jennie’s Biblio File.