For the poetry unit, I translated a poem by Annette von Droste-Hülshoff entitled Letzte Worte. In recent years, there has been some controversy over whether or not she actually wrote it or if her niece wrote. This is why I included maybe in the title of my poem but I translated it under the assumption that the poem was by Annette, because this is the prevailing belief. Even if it was written by her niece, it would have been written around the same time. They would have had similar speech patterns and religious beliefs which is what is important in a poetry translation. She lived from 1797 to 1848. Since the poem was published after her death, the assumed date of its writing is 1848.
Biographical information and photo from http://www.garten-literatur.de/Leselaube/persoenl/droste_huelshoff.html
Meeting the Learning Goals:
I meet the learning goal of using resources in order to complete my translation. I especially used a thesaurus and a rhyming dictionary, even though I choose in the end not to rhyme in my translation. As a rhyming dictionary I used, www.rhymezone.com, as a thesaurus I used, http://thesaurus.com. The thesaurus was useful because although the language of the poem was not terribly difficult, I needed more than just the definition of word in order to complete this translation. I used the thesaurus for words such as, realm, depart, and flits. I knew that reich means kingdom but it didn't sound right. I used a thesaurus to come up with my translation "realm" which I think works better. Here, connotation, imagery, tone, and feeling were almost as important as meaning.
I learned about how the translation process works by choosing what was for me most important in a translation of a poem versus another type of text. I first decided what was most important to me in a poetry translation: meaning and tone. For me, meter and rhyme were less important, especially during my translation when I realized that I would have to sacrifice meaning and tone in order to get the same rhyme and meter as the original. I knew I could not easily or even coherently match the original German poetic style. I believed that the main purpose of a text will always be meaning and how it sounds secondary. If would not have mattered if I had rhyme and meter, if the poem's meaning and tone were not accurate.
My biggest challenge when translating this text was the passage: Weht nächtlich seine Seraphsflügel Der Friede übers Weltenreich. The challenge for me was that the German Friede is masculine so the possessive pronoun it must take is seine which translates as "his" in English. The problem lies in the fact that the German may not have originally meant to have personification in it, because of the way German gender functions. I had to decide whether or not keeping the personification in English was appropriate or the author's intent. I ended up deciding to keep the personification in English and using "his" because I think it works well poetically. If the text had been a newspaper article for example, I probably would have not kept the personification. I solved the problem through discussion with classmates and with further thought.