December 30, 2011

Invisible languages, words and no words

I can't get this out of my head so I have to share it with you because someone just made me think of this again. The last week I have been doing research on Jacques Polge and reading quotes. Polge often speaks about the invisible poetic language of perfume, the poetry, the language... you can see examples in my post from yesterday on Chanel.

His words give me this echo in my head...  I keep hearing two male voices at the same time, intertwined. It sounds like madness, but it is not, it's beautiful.

This autumn we were so proud in Sweden to see Tomas Tranströmer receive the Nobel Prize in Literature. One of his most famous creations is called "Från mars -79". I am unsure of whether the translation can give you all the feelings and whispered meanings of the original in Swedish but it is good enough. You will understand. I have read this poem a hundred times this autumn. It makes me feel like I have a cathedral inside.

Just in case I will give you two translations, I found them through an excellent article (unfortunately in Swedish but check out this one in English on the same topic if this interest you) on the difficult task of translating Tranströmer.

Robin Fulton's translation:

Weary of all who come with words, words but no language
I make my way to the snow-covered island.
The untamed has no words.
The unwritten pages spread out on every side!
I come upon the tracks of deer in the snow.
Language but no words.

Robert Robinson's:

Sick of those who come with words, words but no language,
I make my way to the snow-covered island.
Wilderness has no words. The unwritten pages
stretch out in all directions.
I come across this line of deer-slots in the snow: a language,
language without words.

The Swedish original version.

Trött på alla som kommer med ord, ord, ord men inget språk
for jag till den snötäckta ön.
Det vilda har inga ord.
De oskrivna sidorna breder ut sig åt alla håll!
Jag stöter på spåren av rådjursklövar i snön. 
Språk men inga ord.

Being a copywriter, I am painfully and imperatively aware of the fragility, precision, essence, mysteries....of words. I live them, breathe them, analyze them apart like an engineer or chemist. I search for them, claim them, fight with them. And I am constantly aware of this: words are only one of many languages that we perceive with and communicate with. I am fascinated by people who master other languages in a way that actually makes the superimposition of words unnecessary.

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