1/25/07

Narrow Road to the Interior (1 of 44)


The moon and sun are eternal travelers.
Even the years wander on.
A lifetime adrift in a boat, or in old age leading a tired horse into the years,
every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.
From the earliest times there have always been some who perished along the road.
Still I have always been drawn by windblown clouds into dreams of a lifetime of wandering.

From Narrow Road to the Interior by Matsuo Basho...translated by Sam Hamill

10 comments:

The Lone Beader said...

I was reading a lot of Basho last year when I was busy writing Haikus. :)

beadbabe49 said...

He's certainly one of my favorites...

Beadin' Gram said...

Just received a full color leaflet from dear friend, Hideko, in Japan showing the route of Basho. Fantastic!

Your #1 is so wonderful, BB -- and a lovely tribute.

LJ said...

This is a beautiful start to the journey, BB. Seems to be radiating waves of energy...

Robin said...

There is a delicious mystery in this piece... I love it!

beadexplorer said...

Wonderful words! Thanks for posting them. I have never heard of Basho, I must admit.

hideko said...

Bobbi, your work is excellent! I have no question about that. But I have a question about the translation. Of course it's the too famous first paragraph of the "Narrow Road". In Japanese it starts as this; "Tsukihi wa hyakutai no kakyaku ni shite,". We use the word of "tsukihi" as "month(s) and day(s)", not moon and sun, though "tsuki" means moon/month and "hi" means sun/day. But "tsukihi" is one word for us, not "tsuki and sun". In next paragraph Basho says years are also travellers. Here he lines a day, month and year as a traveller. Therefore I wonder Mr Hamill has mistranslated. I don't know it's if on purpose or not. Because "The moon and sun" might be more impressive as a subject. You wrote there are several English translations. Is the interpretation same in other books? This might be minute, but just a question.

Intergalactic Stacey said...

This bead work is lovely. It reminds me of a fractal. I like all your bead work on this page, but this one really stood out.

beadbabe49 said...

thank you all for your kind thoughts and words...it's so interesting to get feedback so quickly on a piece. Before I started this blog, I would have to have a whole body of work done, or enough for a particular show before I showed it and then I'd get the feedback...immediate feedback is quite different!

Hideko, I do have several translations of the book and the penguin books version has a translation by Nobuyuki Yuasa that is almost identical to your translation. But I think when you are translating literature (as opposed to non-fiction) from not just one language to another, but in this case, one culture to another, you may have to translate it a bit less literally to get the same poetic "weight" that the original version has. I do not know Japanese, but Hamill's version is more poetic to my western ear....I think in his case, he's wanting to get across the feeling of the work, not simply a literal translation that may not read as beautifully in english as it does in japanese.

Does that make sense to you? I know, for me, the translations that are more literal are not as poetic to my western "ear", as Mr. Hamill's is. And in some of the other translations, the words sun and moon were also used, although not in all of them.

The site I'm looking at for the other translations (along with the two books I have in my collection) is on the University of Oregon website and has both the translations by 4 other translators but also discussion of the work.

It's a fascinating site, if you'd like to see it just send me an email and I'll send you their URL.

hideko said...

Bobbi, I completely agree with you. When I learned translation of literature, my teacher told us the most important skill is writing good Japanese (we translate from any foreign langage into Japanese) and the next is catching the right meaning of what the author is expressing. I think Japanese person's English is never poetic as native's English. Today I had a discussion with a British man. I had a lot of questions about the book I am translating now. There was a word of "blue-slated roof". I learned blue-slates are not blue slates but the product from Cambria area in England. I was very pleased I wouldn'd have mistranslated.
I am interested in the site you mentioned. My adress is logy@hotmail.co.jp. Thank you very much.