Assignment

Connect with your AT group over the weekend to discuss which translation of Akhmatova you chose and why. Then post by Monday night (11:59) a brief summary of that conversation (from your perspective) and where you landed in your own choice. 

Response

Rather than studying the different translation as a whole, my AT group decided to focus on a specific poem and apply the differences we found to the rest of the work. We chose the first poem and engaged in a great conversation about the disparities between translations. Thomas translates the poem to read similarly to Akhmatova’s original literary content, as seen in his more passive and linear language. Oppositely, Anderson takes artistic liberty to stretch Akhmotava’s original language into English rhymes. The difficulty of finding equivalent rhymes in two languages appears in some of Anderson’s imperfect rhymes, such as back and wax; brow and howl. Our comparisons led us to conclude that the two translators took different approaches to Akhmatova’s poems. While Thomas used the translation to strictly convey words and phrases equivalent to the original, Anderson bounded his translation to preserving the artistic nature of the original.

Anderson Translation

They took you away at daybreak. Half-walk-

ing, as though at a wake, I followed. 

In the dark chamber children were crying,

In the image-case, candlelight guttered.

At your lips, the chill of an ikon,

A deathly sweat at your brow.

I shall go creep to our wailing wall, 

Crawl to the Kremlin Towers 

Thomas Translation

Arrest at dawn. Like a funeral rite,

They bore you off, I followed in back.

In the dark high chanber children cried,

The flames of holy candles drowned in wax.

The icon’s chill on your lips—can’t forget!—

The deadly sweat encircling your brow . . . 

Like the wives of those the Tsar put to death

I’ll stand outside the Kremlin and howl. 

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