\"Nada de lo que fuiste, fuiste y fuimos a no ser habitantes de tu infierno\"

English translation: For all of us, all that remained was your hell that we were all living through

01:08 Dec 29, 2016
Spanish to English translations [PRO]
Art/Literary - Poetry & Literature / Poetry
Spanish term or phrase: \"Nada de lo que fuiste, fuiste y fuimos a no ser habitantes de tu infierno\"
"Nada de lo que fuiste, fuiste y fuimos a no ser habitantes de tu infierno"
Poema "Algo sobre la muerte del mayor Sabines" de Jaime Sabines.

Esa última parte: "fuimos a no ser habitantes de tu infierno." No entiendo esa parte. ¿Qué significa y cómo la puedo traducir al inglés?
Juan Arturo Carbajal Manjarrez
Mexico
Local time: 20:37
English translation:For all of us, all that remained was your hell that we were all living through
Explanation:
I think this most probably needs to be taken along with the preceding line:

"y queremos tenerte aunque sea enfermo."

Literally, I think the meaning is fairly straightforward:

We wanted to hang on to you even though you were ill.
Nothing of what you were - you were and we were -
other than inhabitants of your hell.


Further simplified: ... nothing of what every one of us was

other than inhabitants of your hell ...

I think the whole stanza can be further interpreted as "We wanted to hang on to what was left of you even though this now constituted nothing more than the hell that you and the rest of us were all going through".


------
There is no comma after "fuimos" in the version I read, but in any case, I feel that it would be fairly optional here. (If I were the poet, I would hesitate about including it, and when in doubt, omit!)

I guess that as this is a PRO question, you are being remunerated for the translation, in which case I would not recommend supplying a ready-made translation. I frequently get asked to translate poetry on a professional basis, and - quite apart from potential issues regarding copyright - I would be mortified to use somebody else's translation - albeit a very small contribution - and to take the credit for it, potentially quite publicly! So if ever I need to consult KudoZ when translating poetry, I always make it clear that I'm only looking for clues regarding the interpretation, and NOT a lovely ready-made rhyming couplet!
But for a definitive interpretation/explanation, I find that nothing beats getting this from the horse's mouth - i.e., directly from the poet himself or herself, in his own native language. But since the poet in this case is no longer living, is there no living expert on Mexican poetry who can supply an explanation, just to be on the safe side?


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Note added at 15 hrs (2016-12-29 16:31:59 GMT)
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or, preferably, "For each of us, all that remained was..."

(rather too many "all"s!)
Selected response from:

Carol Gullidge
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:37
Grading comment
Gracias!
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer



Summary of answers provided
3 +4None of what you were we were as well / Except that we were living in your hell
Charles Davis
3 +2"You and we were nothing of what you were, as we had no part in your (own private) hell"
David Hollywood
3 +1Nothing of what was, of what was and of what we were, lay outside your (living) hell
Lisa Jane
3 +1For all of us, all that remained was your hell that we were all living through
Carol Gullidge
3Nothing of what you were you were, we were/ aside from being the dwellers in your hell.
Cecilia Gowar


Discussion entries: 5





  

Answers


10 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5 peer agreement (net): +2
\\\"Nada de lo que fuiste, fuiste y fuimos a no ser habitantes de tu infierno\\\"
"You and we were nothing of what you were, as we had no part in your (own private) hell"


Explanation:
"Nada de lo que fuiste, fuiste y fuimos a no ser habitantes de tu infierno"

"You and we were nothing of what you were, as we had no part in your (private) hell"

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Note added at 13 mins (2016-12-29 01:22:04 GMT)
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this is open to a lot of renderings, so let's see what others have to say

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Note added at 15 mins (2016-12-29 01:23:33 GMT)
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poetry is always a challenge

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Note added at 27 mins (2016-12-29 01:36:24 GMT)
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"You and I (poetic licence here) were never part of what you were, as we never entered into/lived your (own) private hell"

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Note added at 31 mins (2016-12-29 01:39:59 GMT)
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http://www.poemas.de/algo-sobre-la-muerte-del-mayor-sabines/

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Note added at 43 mins (2016-12-29 01:51:29 GMT)
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doesn't rhyme but don't think that's the point

David Hollywood
Local time: 22:37
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 116

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  franglish: "You and we were nothing of what you were, unless it be dwellers in/of your own private hell." My reading of 'infierno'here is the dying process; 'a no ser', not 'al no ser'. //So, I agree with the first part but not with your interpretation of the rest.
8 hrs

agree  jude dabo: ok
11 hrs
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6 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5 peer agreement (net): +1
Nothing of what was, of what was and of what we were, lay outside your (living) hell


Explanation:
With some poetic licence...
I think the repetition is significant

Lisa Jane
Italy
Local time: 03:37
Specializes in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish, Native in ItalianItalian
PRO pts in category: 4

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Wendy Penn
5 hrs
  -> Thanks Wendy!
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8 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5 peer agreement (net): +4
None of what you were we were as well / Except that we were living in your hell


Explanation:
A iambic rhyming couplet, though semi-accidental. I am not at all sure I have grasped all the subtleties of what he is expressing here, but I am pretty confident about the meaning of "a no ser", which I think is the crux.

To put it another way, fairly literally: Of what you were, there is nothing that both you and we were, except being inhabitants of your hell. The only thing we shared with you was living in your hell. Watching you die, we were in that hell as well.

These are the last two lines of a poem by Sabines addressed to his father (I presume that is the "mayor Sabines") who has died (of cancer). The first part says that all the dead person's things are still there, "Te sobrevive todo". The line before these two is "y queremos tenerte aunque sea enfermo". Then this:

"Nada de lo que fuiste, fuiste y fuimos,
a no ser habitantes de tu infierno"

I don't know whether the comma after "fuimos" was intended by the poet, but I think it was; it is present in his Antología poética, published by FCE, which is probably an authoritative text:
https://books.google.es/books?id=TVBVo594R50C&pg=PR133&lpg=P...

In any case, there is a natural pause at the end of the line. So I don't think it's "fuimos a no ser", and to me it doesn't make any sense read like that. I think it's "No fuiste y fuimos nada de lo que fuiste, a no ser...".

"A no ser is used like this in a passage from a classic of Mexican literature, El llano en llamas by Juan Rulfo:

"No, el Llano no es cosa que sirva. No hay ni conejos ni pájaros. No hay nada. A no ser unos cuantos huizaches trepeleques y una que otra manchita de zacate con las hojas enroscadas; a no ser eso, no hay nada."
https://books.google.es/books?id=RH9UUph_rHgC&pg=PA8&lpg=PA8...

I wonder also whether there is a play on "fuiste": whether "Nada de lo que fuiste, fuiste", might mean that when dying, living in that hell, his father was not what he had been. My suggestion does not reflect that possibility. But I am not sure about it anyway.

Charles Davis
Spain
Local time: 03:37
Specializes in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 252

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Marie Wilson: I also see "a no ser..." as being in your hell.
15 mins
  -> Thanks, Marie!

agree  Beatriz Ramírez de Haro: Exacto, compartieron su infierno.
9 hrs
  -> Gracias, Bea :)

agree  franglish: As you say, he wasn't himself any longer nor were those watching his agony. All that remained was a sharing of his hell.
11 hrs
  -> Thanks, franglish :)

agree  TomWalker: I spent 10 minutes with the poem before reading answers already submitted - agree with your interpretation, Charles. I'm not familiar with this poet, so I'm not sure how to come down on stylistic issues, but I think you're on the right track.
1 day 15 hrs
  -> Thanks a lot, Tom! Happy New Year :)
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9 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5
Nothing of what you were you were, we were/ aside from being the dwellers in your hell.


Explanation:
The first line is confusing, although I believe it means "neither you or we were what you were", which is still mystifying.
I am certain the second line means "aside from/except", i.e.: The only thing did for sure is inhabit your hell.

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Note added at 10 hrs (2016-12-29 11:12:28 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

Correction: It should say "The only thing we did for sure is inhabit your hell."


Cecilia Gowar
United Kingdom
Specializes in field
Native speaker of: Native in SpanishSpanish
PRO pts in category: 160

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
neutral  Charles Davis: I agree about "a no ser". The first line is confusing, but I think it must mean there is nothing of what you were that both you and we were (that you were and we were as well). In other words, that was the only part of it that we could share with you.
28 mins
  -> That sounds right. I left the vagueness in my version. We must bear in mind this sonnet is part of a much longer poem where he deals with his father's death and agony: http://www.poemas.de/algo-sobre-la-muerte-del-mayor-sabines/
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15 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5 peer agreement (net): +1
For all of us, all that remained was your hell that we were all living through


Explanation:
I think this most probably needs to be taken along with the preceding line:

"y queremos tenerte aunque sea enfermo."

Literally, I think the meaning is fairly straightforward:

We wanted to hang on to you even though you were ill.
Nothing of what you were - you were and we were -
other than inhabitants of your hell.


Further simplified: ... nothing of what every one of us was

other than inhabitants of your hell ...

I think the whole stanza can be further interpreted as "We wanted to hang on to what was left of you even though this now constituted nothing more than the hell that you and the rest of us were all going through".


------
There is no comma after "fuimos" in the version I read, but in any case, I feel that it would be fairly optional here. (If I were the poet, I would hesitate about including it, and when in doubt, omit!)

I guess that as this is a PRO question, you are being remunerated for the translation, in which case I would not recommend supplying a ready-made translation. I frequently get asked to translate poetry on a professional basis, and - quite apart from potential issues regarding copyright - I would be mortified to use somebody else's translation - albeit a very small contribution - and to take the credit for it, potentially quite publicly! So if ever I need to consult KudoZ when translating poetry, I always make it clear that I'm only looking for clues regarding the interpretation, and NOT a lovely ready-made rhyming couplet!
But for a definitive interpretation/explanation, I find that nothing beats getting this from the horse's mouth - i.e., directly from the poet himself or herself, in his own native language. But since the poet in this case is no longer living, is there no living expert on Mexican poetry who can supply an explanation, just to be on the safe side?


--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 15 hrs (2016-12-29 16:31:59 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

or, preferably, "For each of us, all that remained was..."

(rather too many "all"s!)

Carol Gullidge
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:37
Specializes in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 311
Grading comment
Gracias!

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Beatriz Ramírez de Haro
2 hrs
  -> thanks Beatriz!
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