It is a relatively brief song that appears deceptively simple, but it contains several profound philosophical themes as well as allusions to works such as the Tao Te Ching and the biblical psalms. Thematically, Ripple lends itself well to translation into a dead language. As such, the act of transposing these words into what likely is a context the author could never have anticipated feels fitting, if somewhat ironic. Translation is a delicate task.
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It is a relatively brief song that appears deceptively simple, but it contains several profound philosophical themes as well as allusions to works such as the Tao Te Ching and the biblical psalms.
Thematically, Ripple lends itself well to translation into a dead language. As such, the act of transposing these words into what likely is a context the author could never have anticipated feels fitting, if somewhat ironic.
Translation is a delicate task. One cannot simply transpose vocabulary and grammar, but must also attempt to preserve the meaning of the words, and this is doubly true in the case of songs and poetry.
Early in the process of translating this song, I realized that simply translating the words and grammatical structures as-is was entirely insufficient. While it was possible and effective for some lines, other lines were either grammatically impossible to render or would have resulted in meaningless text when read in Egyptian. With this in mind, I first engaged in a close analysis of the text to ascertain the meaning, then attempted to render it in English to be as close as possible to the way I would express that sentiment with Egyptian grammar and idiom.
I tried to preserve the vocabulary wherever possible, but most important to my translation was the emotional impact of the words and phrasing. If I knew the way, I would take you home My line-by-line analysis and translation of the song follows: If my words did glow with the gold of sunshine And my tunes were played on the harp unstrung Would you hear my voice come through the music?
The first verse of the song was one that was altered the most in the process of translation. However, I chose not to render them as such in Egyptian. The primary reason for this decision is meaning. This is a very personal, existential question: the author wondering whether the survival of his work will happen at the expense of his memory as an individual, as tends to happen with traditional folk songs.
I felt it best, therefore, to ask this question directly. The use of the r of futurity felt stronger and more direct, as befits an opening line. Later in the text, I use wn constructions in phrases that are more metaphorical in an attempt to convey that these are less concrete. I chose a simple future for these questions to reflect the musing of an author to a future listener.
The silent harp is a reference to loss of context. The songless or unstrung harp refers to changing contexts and cultural expression. A song or a poem may well survive, but it will never be understood in its original context and, as the final line of the verse will express, people will approach through the lens of their own culture and context. Gardiner notes that the introductory vocative interjection is used in religious or semi-religious texts. In the process of forming the opening question, this became a second question.
Would you hold it near as it were your own? As such, this line became a couplet, referring to the thoughts expressed in the first verse: 2 Egyptian Grammar, Sir Alan H. Hoch , pp is nn n y HAtyw pw iwat. I could find no better way to express the sentiment, which I interpret as a sort of resignation and acceptance of the fact that one will have these existential doubts over which has no control.
This line caused quite a headache. It is incredibly difficult to express the potential case in Egyptian. The best way I could find was the sDm. Eventually, I decided to render it as a straight statement. It does not express the potentiality of the original line, but it much cleaner than any other attempt. Ripple in still water Where there is no pebble tossed Nor wind to blow In English, the chorus of the song is a syllable haiku. This is an important element of the original song and I have done my best to make sure that the syllables in my translation match.
Rather, as in this case, it is acceptable for lines one and three to add or lose a syllable. The bipartite pw feels firmer and more definite. This did not feel appropriate for a gentle line about impermanence and insubstantiality. Secondly, the iw wn added an extra syllable for the haiku. The vocabulary in this line was chosen entirely for the sake of phonetic wordplay. Grammatically, it is a prospective sDm. It is the first prospective in a grouped triplet.
I initially considered making this line imperative, but decided against it on the grounds that it would weaken the impact of the imperative in the last verse. If your cup is full, may it be again wn mH wsx. At one point, I had this line translated as a Wechselsatz: mH wsx. Given the next line, the prospective triplet grouping made sense. Let it be known there is a fountain that was not made by the hands of men This is another line that I changed significantly for meaning.
Overall, it is the cleanest phrasing I could achieve and the meaning remains intact. This is the second time I chose to use an iw wn construction, as I felt the type of imagery and metaphor deserved a softer phrasing.
And if you go, no one may follow; That path is for your steps alone. The nisbe waty feels awkward, but it was the only way I could find to express that the road was for only the feet of the person addressed.
You who choose to lead must follow Sms i sSmw Follow, o leaders! The simple phrasing of this line was chosen to accentuate the phonetic wordplay of juxtaposing those two words.
Even though I could have used an imperative earlier in the song, I felt it was a stronger choice to save it for the last verse. Given the lack of a formal second-person plural in English, it can be difficult to tell if a speaker is addressing an individual or a group. But if you fall, you fall alone ir xr. This form of fall means to fall in a military sense, which I felt was appropriate for a group of leaders. Putting a pair of statives in this bare conditional construction emphasizes the wistfulness of this statement.
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Shelves: comedy-humor , gothic , comics-graphic-novels , reviewed , contemporary-drama-fiction "Even more harrowing than the first chapters of a novel are the last, for Mr. Earbrass anyway. The characters have one and all become thoroughly tiresome, as though he had been trapped at the same party with them since the day before; neglected sections of the plot loom on every hand, waiting to be disposed of; his verbs seem to have withered away and his adjectives to be proliferating past control. Our novels drive us crazy.
The Unstrung Harp by Edward Gorey (1999, Hardcover)