Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Memento Vitae - An International Translation Project

Water droplet on a leaf, (c) 2012 by Maja Trochimczyk

Memento Vitae

Let’s talk about dying,
The gasp of last breath.
The end - or maybe not,
We don’t know.

Let’s talk about the last day.
What would you do
If you knew?
Whom would you love?
Would you find your dearest,
Most mysterious love?
Or would you just stay
In the circle of your own?
Would you rob, steal
Or insult anyone?
Would you cry?
Burn your papers?
If the fabric of your future
Shrank to one day,
Or maybe an hour?

Let’s talk about living, then.
The next breath,
That will take you
To the next minute,
The next heartbeat.

Just about – now. 

(c) 2008 by Maja Trochimczyk


Water droplet on a leaf, (c) 2012 by Maja Trochimczyk

My most recent project is publishing the same poem about living in the present in the greatest number of languages possible. Memento Vitae so far appeared in several publications in the original English. 

  • "Memento Vitae" and "A Lesson for my Daughter" in the poetry column "Poetry Corner: Back to School Everyone" in The Voice of the Village monthly, vol. 3, no. 9, September 2012. 
  • "Memento Vitae" posted in the Poetry Laurels blog, August, 14, 2012.
  • "Memento Vitae" published in the journal Clockwise Cat, October 6, 2009.

However, when it was translated into Serbian by Dr. Mirjana Mataric and published in two venues in Serbia, I decided to spread the good news, and turn the poem into a project of remembrance and focus. The only happy people are those who live well, in the present, without regrets and without a turmoil of desires. My poem is a lesson in that. In Serbian it appeared in a literary journal Svenske and in a daily newspaper Vecernje Novosti in Belgrade, in July 2012.  

  • "Memento Vitae" in Serbian translation by Dr. Mirjana N. Radovanov-Mataric, in Vecernje novosti (daily newspaper in Belgrade), 21 July 2012

  • "Tulip Dust" in Serbian translation as "Prah lala," and four other poems ("Sierra," "Ganesha," "Memento Vitae" and "What I love in Poland") translated by Mirjana N. Mataric. SVESKE, God. 22, Knj. 104, June 2012. p. 29.

Only after the Serbian translation has proven to be such a big hit, I translated it into Polish, while Elizabeth Zapolska-Chappelle made a French version (reproduced below with the English), and Elsa Frausto, an Argentinian Californian of Slavic descent, has started to work on a Spanish version. 

Having a poem, any poem, picked for publication by a major national daily paper is a reason for celebration. And I'd like to celebrate it by spreading the news about this poem and its impact, as a reflection on the meaning of life and the universe and everything... Other translators are welcome. 



Memento Vitae  

Mówmy o śmierci.
Twój ostatni oddech
To koniec – a może nie?
Nie wiesz nic.

Mówmy o ostatnim 
Dniu. Co byś zrobił
Gdybyś wiedział?
Kogo byś kochał?
Czy szukałbyś swej najmilszej,
Najgłębszej miłości?
A może byś został wśród bliskich
Których dobrze znasz?
Czy okradłbyś kogoś,
Obrabował, obraził?
Czy zacząłbyś rozpaczać?
Wrzucił listy w ogień?
Gdyby kanwa twej przyszłości
Znikła? I zostałby ci tylko 
Dzień? Lub godzina?

Mówmy więc o życiu.
Każdy oddech niesie cię 
W taniec minut, sekund. 
rytm serca.

Właśnie tak.    

(c) 2008 by Maja Trochimczyk, translation (c) 2012 by Maja Trochimczyk

Fingerprint of a leaf, (c) 2012 by Maja Trochimczyk


Memento Vitae

Et si l’on chantait la mort ?
Le bruit du dernier soupir ?
Est-il vraiment le dernier ?
Qui peut en être assuré…

Et si l’on chantait l’ultime jour ?
Comment serais-tu devenu
A l’annonce de son arrivée ?
Vers quel amour serais-tu allé ?
Vers le plus beau et l’inconnu,
Le plus mystérieux des amours ?
Ou vers celui qui t’accompagne
Depuis une éternité ?
Aurais-tu envie alors
De blesser, de voler quelqu’un ?
T’effondrerais-tu en larmes
Ou brûlerais-tu tes papiers ?
Si l’étoffe de ta vie entière
Se rétrécissait à un jour
Ou à une seule petite heure ?

Et si l’on chantait donc la vie ?
Avec le prochain soupir,
Qui te rapprochera 
De la minute qui vient ?
D’un cœur qui bat à nouveau?

Maintenant. Juste – maintenant.

Translated by Elisabeth Zapolska-Chapelle, September 2012. 

Published on Chopinwithcherries.blogspot.com, August 2012.

Water droplet on a leaf, (c) 2012 by Maja Trochimczyk