Лермонтов-Прощай, немытая Россия - In English
Прощай, немытая Россия, Farewell! - unwashed, indigent Russia,
Страна рабов, страна господ, The land of slaves, the state of lords,
И вы, мундиры голубые, And you, its navy-coated marshals,
И ты, им преданный народ. And you, their dedicated herds.
Быть может, за стеной Кавказа Perhaps, behind Caucasian ridges
Укроюсь от твоих пашей, I will be safe from your emirs,
От их всевидящего глаза, From their all-overseeing preachers,
От их всеслышащих ушей. From their all-overhearing ears.
I am uneasy about your using different words for страна, it produces the impression of a contrast, "land of slaves" but "state of lords", which I do not think was Lermontov's intent. It was rather the land of slaves and at the same time the land of lords. So it would be better to repeat "land".
Next, I would say "the" navy-coated marshals, not "its". Sounds more natural to me.
Finally, the word "Caucasian" is too much tainted, at least in modern American English; it takes therefore some effort to associate "Caucasian ridges" with the ridges of Caucasus. Also emirs' preachers are not the same as their spies. Let me make a bold suggestion here:
Perhaps behind the wall of Caucus'
I will be safe from your emirs,
From their all-overseeing office
From their all-overhearing ears.
I do not mean criticism here or editorializing. Just a dialogue. I am generally very impressed by your magnificent translations!
Clittary Hilton 28.04.2013 21:24
Literally Lermontov said: The country of slaves, the country of lords.
I don't know how focused was Lermontov's thought here, but I have no doubt
that out of all possible variations of the phrase in English, he would
choose "The land of slaves, the state of lords". The contrast is exactly
the one that makes sense here: the land populated by slaves, and the state empowering the lords. It matches perfectly the phonetic contrast:
L(and) - S(laves), S(tate) - L(ords).
As about "Caucus - office", where you perhaps meant "Caucas" - it is probably a non-word (though Google translate does recognize it and gives it a very awkward sound - like Russian "kukish"), while "office", next to "emirs", also appears taken from a different lexical layer.
(Yet, if you ever need a translation of this poem, you are free
to use the variant that you like the best :-)
Александр Гивенталь 06.05.2013 13:33