An Adaptation

I’ve been recently in my acting class with a modern adaption on Chekov’s Uncle Vanya, a play called “Life Sucks,” it occurred to me that I could apply the concept of an adaptation to some of the translations I was doing.   In other words, I would translate the original poem into English and then turn it into a poem of my own through the process of adaptation.

Here is the poem I came up with:

2018

An adaptation of 1909 by Guillaume Apollinaire

(Translated and adapted by Guy Conner)

The woman had a dress,
A silver sheath,
With straps across her shoulders.

Her eyes danced like angels.
She laughed and laughed and laughed.
Her face was like the flag of France –
Blue eyes, white teeth, red lips.
Her face was like the flag.

I could see the outline of her breasts,
Beneath the silver sheath.
Her hair that dangled brazenly,
Her beautiful naked arms.

The woman with her silver sheath,
The straps across her shoulders
Her red lips,
Her dangling hair…
She was so beautiful,
You would scarcely dare to approach her

Women of the neighborhood
Used to attract me;
Working women, sweat on their brows
Creatures of our technocratic age
But this woman was so beautiful,
She frightened me to death

 

And here is my original translation:

1909 by Guillaume Apollinaire

Translated by Guy Conner

The woman had a purple dress
And her gold-embroidered tunic
Was composed of two panels
Attaching at the shoulder

Her eyes danced and danced
She laughed, she laughed
She had a face like the Flag of France
Blue eyes, white teeth, red lips
She had a face like the Flag of France

Her dress hung low all around
Her hair done up in curls
Her beautiful naked arms

Midnight will never come

The woman in her purple dress,
Her tunic embroidered in gold
Dress hanging low
Shaking her curls
Her golden bandeau
Dragging her tiny buckled shoes

She was so beautiful
You would not dare to love her

I liked the horrible women in the parts of town
Where each day a few new beings were born
I liked, I liked the people skillful with machines
Luxury and beauty are only their foam

That woman was so beautiful
That she made me afraid