VerseThursday translations 1/2
#VerseThursday translation - From Vedic Sanskrit
Waters! As the unceasing joy of Earth, lead us to join the flow
And show us that intense delight.
Impel us to participate in your most soothing savour now
Like a mother who’s all too keen.
Waters! Let’s call on you to feel that secret whose serene abode
You help us to and birth us for.
Nourisher of the weal, abiding carer of this land and us:
From you, Waters, I seek a cure.
VerseThursday translations 2/2
Like unstringing a tightened bow, I unwind from your heart this rage.
Let us therefore unite as friends, since we two minds have come as one.
Let us unite as friends: In you I unwind and relax the wrath.
With our folks here we cast it down and put a big boulder on its top.
And I stand on the buried grudge, and press down with my heel and toe,
So that it shall attend my thoughts and speak nothing against our will.
VerseThursday ko-fi link
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This poem (or incantation) is a curious one. It basically described a community event for conflict resolution and anger management.
Here the poetic voice is helping the "you" to release their anger. In the 2nd verse, the original makes it clear, but subtly, that the "burial" of the wrath is a community event. The core verb is in the 1st person plural (in contrast to the 1st person dual, for the speaker and the "you", in the 1st verse). Therefore, this is not a private matter between two people, but something witnessed and participated by the community. Therefore I deliberately used "our folks" to make it clear in the translation.
And the goal of this "session", is not to suppress the irate emotion, but to learn to manage our response: to make it "speak nothing against our will". In other words, what we'd achieve is to acknowledge the emotional memory but take control of our action in response. And this is done with the community members, who support us and hold us accountable.
Notes 2 contd.
This poem is in a different metre, the anuṣṭubh: couplets of 8 syllables x 2 each, also with the "iambic" tendency in the even-numbered half-units. It is a fairly uncommon metre in the Vedas, but is widely influential in the history of Sanskrit literature. The relatively simple anuṣṭubh evolved into the śloka form of the epics, and became a defining paradigm of Sanskrit verse.
In the translation, I also tries to preserve the metre using the English equivalent, the contrast of syllable stresses.
What is the Atharvaveda? Literally, it means "knowledge (veda) of the Atharvan (a class of priests)." Often called the "Veda of everyday life", it contains a large and diverse body of text that gave us an impression of what life was like, especially for common people, in the Vedic age (about 2nd to 1st millennium BCE) -- their love and fear, hope and lament, belief and speculations.
The first poem in today's batch is an ode to water -- a theme common to ancient cultures. The metre is the gāyatrī, composed of a line of 2 x 8 syllables, followed by a 8-syllable line. In each line, the even-numbered half-unit (4 syllables) tends to form an "iambic" cadence: light, heavy, light, heavy. Here, a "light" syllable refers to an open syllable with a short vowel (a, i, u, ṛ); everything else (closed syllable or an open one with a long vowel) is "heavy".
In this translation I tried to adapt the metre to English, by mapping light syllables to unstressed ones, and heavy ones to stressed.
Notes 1, contd.
This poem is a strong expression of people's connection to the land. It is clear that the poetic voice "I" is speaking on behalf of the community, when they beseech the waters for healing.
The plural "waters" is a literal render of the original (in Vedic literature that word most often takes the plural).
The 3rd stanza contains some ambiguity. Literally it says "We shall go to you (for [the] ???, dative correlative pronoun) whose (genitive relative pronoun) abode ..." What could that "???" be? Some scholars use "the one", or "the possession". Since it literally is a "???" pronoun, I took the liberty to substitute it with "the secret".
The choice of the word pair "abode" in verse 3 and "abiding" in verse 4, both deriving from the same Germanic root, is deliberate. I was trying to render a pair of words also related by the same Sanskrit root (but it's not a cognate of the word I chose).
Notes 1, thank you notes
In the Ko-Fi version, I used a photograph by @jules as inline artwork. Many thanks to the photographer for letting me use the work!
Notes 1, contd.
@zoec I always love seeing your translations of beautiful poetry but I really really appreciate how often you follow your translations up with detailed notes, I feel like I learn so much from you!
Notes 1, contd.
@checkervest thank you so much for reading me! I am so happy that these notes turn out interesting to someone
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