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voie / profondeurs du Zenit

English translation: ways; to the mystical depths of the Zenith

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07:29 Sep 6, 2000
French to English translations [Non-PRO]
Art/Literary
French term or phrase: voie / profondeurs du Zenit
I'm translating a tribute to a French artist in verse and poetic prose. I'm not sure how to translate voie in the following poem:
L'homme se modele sur la terre
la terre sur le ciel
le ciel sur la voie
et la voie sur la nature.

Also, "profondeurs du Zenit" sounds like an oxymoron to me: "Une gloire dest devant toi...le soleil s'etale insensiblement sur ces oeuvres, jusqu'aux profondeurs du Zenit." I came up with: "...the sun creeps imperceptibly over his works to its full zenith," but I'm not sure that's correct. Any thoughts? Thanks, Karen
Karen Tucker
English translation:ways; to the mystical depths of the Zenith
Explanation:
Here is a rendering of the French poem, semantically linking all the elements, as has been done in the French:

Man(kind) follows the ways of the Earth,
The Earth, those of the heavens,
The heavens, the way itself
And the way, the ways of nature

---------
I am basing my rendering of *jusqu'aux profondeurs du Zénith* on the following:

From Cirlot's A Dictionary of symbols: The zenith is a symbol which can be synonymous with that of the central hole in the Chinese heaven known as Pi, as well as with that of the peak of the mountain-temple, or the pyramid, or the sacrificial stake, or the pillar of the world. It is the point through which mystics believe their thoughts may pass out of space into non-space, out of time into timelessness. Hence, the importance of the formal likeness of this symbol with that of the hole.
Selected response from:

Yolanda Broad
United States
Local time: 22:39
Grading comment
I really appreciate your explanation of Zenith and your translation of the poem. They're both clearer to me now. The person who mentioned that "voie" might be used in the Chinese sense is very perceptive; the poem was, in fact, written by a Chinese poet from the 6th century B.C. And Heathcliff, thanks for a different perspective on the "soleil s'etale insensiblement" phrase. Karen
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer

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Summary of answers provided
naresponse to ElcioKaren Tucker
naTakes it's shape fromÉlcio Filho
naways; to the mystical depths of the Zenith
Yolanda Broad
naregarding "le soleil s'etale insensiblement":Heathcliff
naThe WayLydia Brady


  

Answers


56 mins
The Way


Explanation:
I think voie here is used in ths Chinese sense of Tao. See:
http://david-schmidt.org/chine.htm
Or do a web search for +Voie +Tao +Way


    Reference: http://david-schmidt.org/chine.htm
Lydia Brady
Local time: 04:39
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 36
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1 hr
regarding "le soleil s'etale insensiblement":


Explanation:
Perhaps the sun is spreading its rays indifferently? ("Etaler" = display, lay out, spread out for view, etc., and "insensiblement" referring to the sun's indifference to earthly affairs, rather than to a mere human's view of its progress across the sky.) Would this fit your context?


Heathcliff
United States
Local time: 19:39
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 953

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
Élcio Filho
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2 hrs
ways; to the mystical depths of the Zenith


Explanation:
Here is a rendering of the French poem, semantically linking all the elements, as has been done in the French:

Man(kind) follows the ways of the Earth,
The Earth, those of the heavens,
The heavens, the way itself
And the way, the ways of nature

---------
I am basing my rendering of *jusqu'aux profondeurs du Zénith* on the following:

From Cirlot's A Dictionary of symbols: The zenith is a symbol which can be synonymous with that of the central hole in the Chinese heaven known as Pi, as well as with that of the peak of the mountain-temple, or the pyramid, or the sacrificial stake, or the pillar of the world. It is the point through which mystics believe their thoughts may pass out of space into non-space, out of time into timelessness. Hence, the importance of the formal likeness of this symbol with that of the hole.


    Cirlot's A Dictionary of symbols
Yolanda Broad
United States
Local time: 22:39
Native speaker of: English
PRO pts in pair: 1551
Grading comment
I really appreciate your explanation of Zenith and your translation of the poem. They're both clearer to me now. The person who mentioned that "voie" might be used in the Chinese sense is very perceptive; the poem was, in fact, written by a Chinese poet from the 6th century B.C. And Heathcliff, thanks for a different perspective on the "soleil s'etale insensiblement" phrase. Karen
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1 day15 hrs
Takes it's shape from


Explanation:
I disaggre with the rendering of "modele sur" as "follows the way". Either there is or not a chinese accent to the word "voie" as appointed- and especially if there is -, I do not see why the whole translation of the poem ought to be based in the "follow the ways" pattern. In my opinion, the idea behind the image "modele sur" is a rather physical idea (a physical that leads to the spiritual, bien entendu) that would be better expressed by "takes it's shape from". And when the poem "reaches" the verse and the idea of "voie", "takes its shape from" becomes even more powerfull and meaningfull, in opposition to the rendering suggested by the winning answer. In fact, earth, and skies (not Heavens: again I think the chinese poet was intending to transcend from the concreteness of the reality of the elements. This is a pattern in the whole of oriental poetry - see the zen Buddism's "koans" for example) and man and life itself taking their shapes from the "voie" (I would prefer "path" to "way") is the very meaning of taoistic ideas, since the "voie" is superior to everything and determinant of everything (nature is just an equivalent of voie, its ultimate image and the end of the semantical-poetical circle), for it is the very movement of soul, of life, of existence and of things yet to be existent: the path is, afterall, the very movement itself.

So, this is the rendering I suggest:

Man takes his shape from the earth
Earth takes her shape from the skies
Skies takes their shape from the path
and the path from the nature's heart

In adittion, I think this rendering reinforces the circle-like intention of form and meaning of the French "original":"nature" is the simile to the "terre" of the first verse. Thus the circle is closed in another way.

As to the "profoundeurs du Zenith" I advise you to translate it literally (to the depths of zenith) in order to maintain the contradictory (and poetical) intention of the original text. Translating poetry is not to explain it away, but to keep the secrets of her magic.
I think your own rendering is very insigthfull: I would only add "(to the depths) of its full zenith"
(Give up, for god's sake, of "the mystical depths of the zenit", please!)

I hope I have not annoyed you too much with this little dissertation, but I find poetry translation to be the most wonderful and intriguing thing in our profession. In fact, I think it deals with the very limits and foundations of this entire "oeuvre" of replacing
wor[l]ds for words.

Best regards,
Élcio





    The extremely hard work of translating poetry
Élcio Filho
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1 day20 hrs
response to Elcio


Explanation:
Elcio,

I appreciate your insightful comments about the "voie" poem and "zenith," which definitely add to my depth of understanding of these poems and will influence my final version. And I couldn't agree more with your comment about the "extremely hard task of translating poetry" - it's a real hair-pulling challenge at times!

Thanks again,
Karen

Karen Tucker
United States
Local time: 22:39
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 394
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