Certain Gravity — NaPoWriMo #16 — a “translation”

Certain Gravity

Carry draws you forward
Seas latch land and forest

Men are grown faithless
One came with four carriages
Sea raid. One cymbal, sounds.

When I didn’t deal help
People arise, no clap heard,
Not demanding. Dimmed wave

In dawn and mourning my love
Many melt withering over our
Men sons, down my long harbor

Men tenderly attracted sinner
So men here my east or west
Faith dredges, have flown

Men only want amenities
Many called, even minnows tanked
Then finally jeweled grail

Men are faithless in military garret
And certain attempts in loves
go delighting between sight and fall.


* * *

Today’s NaPoWriMo challenge was intriguing to say the least. Look for a poem in a language you don’t know, and write a “translation” using the sounds you imagine and deduce. I looked up this Welsh poem this morning on the Poetry International Language List site. I don’t know thing one about Welsh in a practical sense, though I’ve heard it spoken and as an English speaker I thought I might “hear” something. No such luck. My piece is an intuitive mess and makes little to no sense at all either as a work of its own or as a (ahem) translation, but I got a kick out of trying to keep same words the same, and similar sounds (that I imagined) similar. I thought it was interesting, too, the way my second language (Spanish) influenced what I “heard” as I read and worked on this piece.

After the initial word-for-word “translation”, I went back and tried to make some kind of sense of my own words, but struggled to do so, even though in some places it seems to string together with some pretty rough-looking knots. I did not change punctuation, though it sometimes affects meaning adversely. Ah, yes, and for speakers of Welsh, I’ve included the text of Menna Elfyn’s (really, could there be a more wonderful name?) poem. Perhaps not so remarkably, writing this post-script reminded me of writing the edition of an 18th century play back in grad school. Fun stuff.

Tomorrow, ladies and gents, is hump day. And well met. ~LD

Post-PS: After a little searching tonight, I’ve found the author’s website where you can find this video of the author reading of one of her poems in both English and in Welsh. Made my poem choice both ironic and lovely.


Carreg ddrws dy fodolaeth,
Sy’n llechen lan y bore

Maen ar gronglwyd f’enaid,
Un cam wrth fur cariad
Sy raid. Un syml, sownd.

Wnes i ddim deall helfa
Pobl am risial, neu glap aur,
Na deiamwnt. Dim ond

Diolch am y meini mewn llaw,
Meini mellt weithiau o’r awyr,
Maen sugn., dwy long mewn harbwr,

Maen tynnu atat synnwyr
A’r maen hir mewn oes o raean
Fe dreigla, heb fwsogli.

Maen hogi fy ymennydd
Meini cellt, yn mynnu tanchwa
Dan feinwe’n chwarel grai.

Maen ar faen yn gerrig milltir
Y cerddaf atynt yn llawen,
Gan delori fel clap y cerrig.

-Menna Elfyn


3 thoughts on “Certain Gravity — NaPoWriMo #16 — a “translation”

  1. I am really enjoying the poetry, but even more I am loving the explanations/comments after. It almost feels like we are hanging out, and I can hear your voice as you talk about what you’ve written.

      • There is a place on Walnut Street called the J.O.B. Public House that serves Colorado Bulldogs. Once in a while I order one, because they are delicious, but also because they remind me of you. 🙂

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