Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Billy Collins Cure.

Knowledge and belief. Albert Einstein once said that there is a kind of "irreconcilable conflict" between the two. (I honestly don't think I can actually pronounce that first word, but I know it means "something that can't be settled or resolved." Fair?) Why do people ask if you "believe" in the Tooth Fairy? Or ghosts? Or God? I think from now on, when someone asks me if I believe in God, I'll say, "No. I know God." Because I BELIEVE that I do. Woo. Heavy Stuff.

I typed "provocative questions" into Google just now (word to the wise/those under 18 years: don't do that), and it came up with all these questions that really don't require an answer. For example, "What would a burger of ham be called?" Or, "If Pinnocchio said, 'My nose is about to grow,' what would happen?"(That one actually blew my mind. I think he would just spontaneously combust and run around in circles. That image shouldn't be funny, but...I think I'm a pyromaniac...)

The point is, none of those questions cured my writer's block.

By the know that movie "Julie & Julia?" With the fantastic Meryl Streep and Amy Adams? Well, I looked up Julie Powell's blog, the one the movie highlighted...and it's still online and everything! I got super excited, and got ready to read the whole thing...until I realized that reading a cooking blog while not being obsessed with cooking is not the most enjoyable pasttime. I don't mind cooking, it's just...not what I like to do when I have free time. Besides making chocolate-chip cookies. My family and friends would probably be ten pounds lighter if it wasn't for my cookie-cooking habits.

"Cookie" is such a weird name for a food. I mean, yes, one cooks cookies. But one also cooks meatloaf...and I don't hear people saying they're having mashed potatoes, corn, and a cookie loaf for dinner. Just sayin'. Someone should have reevaluated once they started cooking more than just lumps of doughy goodness.

It's about forty-five minutes later and I've done nothing but translate the poem "Litany" by Billy Collins from Swahili to Traditional Chinese to Albanian to Irish (I didn't know they had their own language...silly, ignorant me) and back to English. Using Google Translate...I wish I could do it myself though. Maybe someday. Anyway, here's the original poem:


You are the bread and the knife,
the crystal goblet and the wine.
You are the dew on the morning grass
and the burning wheel of the sun.
You are the white apron of the baker,
and the marsh birds suddenly in flight.

However, you are not the wind in the orchard,
the plums on the counter,
or the house of cards.
And you are certainly not the pine-scented air.
There is just no way that you are the pine-scented air.

It is possible that you are the fish under the bridge,
maybe even the pigeon on the general's head,
but you are not even close
to being the field of cornflowers at dusk.

And a quick look in the mirror will show
that you are neither the boots in the corner
nor the boat asleep in its boathouse.

It might interest you to know,
speaking of the plentiful imagery of the world,
that I am the sound of rain on the roof.

I also happen to be the shooting star,
the evening paper blowing down an alley
and the basket of chestnuts on the kitchen table.

I am also the moon in the trees
and the blind woman's tea cup.
But don't worry, I'm not the bread and the knife.
You are still the bread and the knife.
You will always be the bread and the knife,
not to mention the crystal goblet and--somehow--the wine.

Think that's funny? Here's the version I managed to come up with:


You are the bread and the knife,
And wine glasses.
You are the morning dew on the grass
And the burning wheel Sun
You are the bread and white apron,
Marsh birds, suddenly the aircraft.

However, you are not in the garden of the wind,
Address Squash
Or card room.
And certainly you pine-scented air.
There is no way to smell the air you are venting.

It is possible that you are the fish under the bridge,
Even pigeons on his head
But the date
And the field of cornflowers at black.

And look for the mirror shown rapid
You are not the boots in the corner
Not fallen asleep in the boat, the boat house.

It may interest you know
He said many images around the world
my voice, rain shadow.

I also happen to be a Meteor
Night crash
Basket of chestnuts and the kitchen table.

I am also the moon in a tree
Glass and blind woman.
But do not worry, I'm not bread knife.
Or a bread knife.
You always bread knife
Moreover, glass and - in a way - the wine.

That right there is truly romantic. If some guy ever comes up to me and said, "There is no way to smell the air you are venting," I'll know I've found the one.

Although I'd still be pretty impressed if he said something full of simplicity and clarity like "I also happen to be a Meteor Night crash Basket of chestnuts and the kitchen table." He could put a ring on my finger right then and there.

So, anyone else want to join me in the field of translation editing? Not that the world needs it or anything.

I mean, we have Google translate. Clearly, that's more than enough.

1 comment:

  1. Cookie Loaf is a real thing. Often, it has more butter than traditional cookies, because instead of being baked in individual lumps on a sheet, it is baked in a pan with raised edges--much in the way brownies are baked. It also goes by other names, e.g., pan cookie or cookie bars. They, like their lumpy counterparts, can be quite delicious.