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The Literary Groong - 06/07/2008

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	TRANSLATING

	by Diana Der-Hovanessian


1.	I was born bilingual but...

	The Armenian language is 
	the music of my childhood,
	the sweet taste of everything 
	that was home.
	It is my lost treasure,
	halved and bartered;
	the dream that comes to haunt
	the English language dream.
	It is the echo of the ages,
	the shadow of old giants,
	but palpable. Yes, we made it.
	We are part of it, this gift
	we are letting drift away.



2.	Old Words

	Sometimes it takes five words 
	of buoyant, tensile English to
	explain one ancient leathery word.

	Old words lie weighted,glittering
	for centuries in the sun
	like brittle stones.

	And Armenian words have worn thin
	like old coins, changed, exchanged in vain,

	gaining a soft patina unmatched
	except by old monasteries in the rain.
	Their meanings have grown ironic
	with a subtle subliminal drone.
	Take the word for justice, for instance,
	with its satiric undertones.



3.	Custom

	Words are not lifeless. They live
	in houses, they grow and they are fed.
	In Armenia "Dada"is grandmother,
	the second hovering figure
	over baby's head.



4.	Words Are Made of Breath,

	larynx, lip and tongue.
	Print and paper are silent signs
	of what should be sung.

	The Arabs say every new language
	gives the learner an added soul.
	The Irish say Celtic silence
	cannot be recast or retold.

	The Armenians say their language
	is translated only by the heart.
	Italians laugh saying music
	is the translator's taunt, not art. 

 


Diana Der-Hovanessian (reprinted from American Scholar winner of the
Mary Elinore Smith prize )


--
Diana Der-Hovanessian New England born poet is the author of nine
volumes of translations from the Armenian, one from Romanian, and
several of her own works including the newly published  THE SECOND
QUESTION from Sheep Meadow Press

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