The Literary Magic That Is Interpretation

These are two translations of a poem written by Andrei Voznesensky written in a foreign language (Russian?). How interesting that two translations can bring two absolutely different perspectives to the poem.

First Frost

A girl is freezing in a telephone booth,
huddle in her flimsy coat,
her face stained by tears
and smeared with lipstick.

She breathes on her thin little fingers.
Fingers like ice. Glass beads in her ears.

She has to beat her way back alone
down the icy street.
First frost. A beginning of losses.
The first frost of telephone phrases.

It is the start of winter glittering on her cheek,
the first frost of having been hurt.

Translated by George Reavey

First Ice

A girl freezes in a telephone booth.
In her draughty overcoat she hides
A face all smeared
In tears and lipstick.

She breathes on her thin palms.
Her fingers are icy. She wears earrings.

She’ll have to go home alone, alone,
Along the icy street.

First ice. It is the first time.
The first ice of telephone phrases.

Frozen tears glitter o her cheeks–
The first ice of human hurt.

Translated by Stanley Kunitz

I prefer the second translation, because I found that the Kunitz interpretation helped me understand the Reavey interpretation better.

Which do you prefer?


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. rhiannon
    Oct 22, 2006 @ 01:32:37

    I prefer the second one too. 🙂

    sulz: et tu, brutus? lol


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