translating a poem stanza
Thread poster: Froy Batsielilit
Froy Batsielilit
United States
Local time: 16:26
Spanish to English
+ ...
Nov 2, 2013

Hello everyone,

I hope you are all well. I need your help. I am attempting to translate a Spanish poem written into English, but am having difficulties with one of the metaphors.

Here it goes:

el prisma descompone la luz,
y en el violeta,
se prenden unas células.
Luego, otras,
se embarran al magenta
y otras,
absorben las tinieblas.

I attempted as:

the prism refracts light,
in the violet,
cells attach,
others, later,
plaster into magenta
still others,
absorb darkness

but feel like I am writing it awkwardly. Any help will be greatly appreciated.

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LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:26
Russian to English
+ ...
Hi. I would change it slightly, but the translation is quite good. Nov 2, 2013

2nd line -- "a prism" might be better than "the" "the light"
3rd -- "into the violet"instead of 'in" ( or "in violet"-- I am not sure. The light is violet when reflected, perhaps)
4th -- "cells keep combining" perhaps
5th --"later, more (of them)"
6th -- "merge(plaster) into the magenta"
7th -- Ok
8th -- "absorb the darkness "or "feed on the darkness".

I liked it overall. These are just my suggestions.

[Edited at 2013-11-02 20:29 GMT]

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United States
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
. Nov 2, 2013

I don't understand what the "células" are.

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Froy Batsielilit
United States
Local time: 16:26
Spanish to English
+ ...
. Nov 3, 2013

Hello LilianBNekipelo,

Thank you very much for your suggestions. I will incorporate what you have suggested.

Hello philoddard,

"células" in spanish mean cells.

I realized I might not have been clear in my initial post, the poem is written in Spanish and I am attempting to translate it into English.

Hello silviacasilli,

Thank you for your response. I would love to talk to you regarding the poem since you have read it.

Hello DRHASIB13,

Thank you for your response. I understand how hard translating is, lol, and I wish I could use a lot of my imagination with this. But since I am attempting a literal translation, I cannot take to much liberty with the text.

[Edited at 2013-11-04 02:27 GMT]

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silviacasilli  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:26
Italian to English
+ ...
cells as basic elements of the human being Nov 3, 2013

I read the original text by Aguilar de la Torre 'Dolor por la Muerte de un Negro'. I think the general context is important in order to give a poetical translation to these verses.
The preceeding stanza speaks about the difference of self percption between the inside and the outside: the poet's skin is white, but inside colour does not exist.
Now he speaks about the effect of the prism. The term reflection is certainly correct from the scientific point of view, but the idea I get from the verses I read is that of a sort of breaking up the unity of white light/white skin into different coloured flows of light that capture some cells of the body revealing the mixed nature of the human being till the discovering of the 'malediciòn de la cèlulas negras' that we find later on.
Therefore I would suggest to try to maintain the idea of decomposing, of breaking up which is percievable in Spanish but gets lost in translating 'refraction' in English.

Accept my contribution to your reflection in translating even if I am not a native Spanish speaker nor an English one. I am an Italian native speaker who can read Spanish, loves poetry, speaks and writes into English.
Kind regards

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Local time: 01:56
English to Hindi
+ ...
translating a poem is more difficult than translating a prose Nov 4, 2013

Dear Sir/Madam,
Full Translation is itself a tough task and to translate a poem even is tougher. My suggestion is to use imagination in translating a poem.

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