Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Kari Hkris: The Poetry of Galaktion Tabidze in Translation

This is possibly the most famous poem of Tabidze’s. The smooth, swooping rhythm, indicative of the wind it describes, make it a popular poem for memorization. Additionally, the yearning, lost-love theme is beautifully symbolized in the image of a blustery day, bad weather obscuring everything from sight.

The poem is, for me, most reminiscent of Robert Frost’s poetry — poems like “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening” or “Nothing Gold Can Stay” similarly conflate weather and loss. They also similarly make use of simple-seeming words and imagery to create a poem that lingers with you long after you’ve read it.

Galaktion distinguishes himself by pushing the music to the forefront of his poems. The sonic effects nearly overpower the meaning so that, like any good song, you can sing along almost before you begin to understand the words.

This poem is often taught to foreigners studying Georgian. Its relative simplicity, reliance on repetition — either exact phrases, or words like “how” and “every” that repeat within the line — and the song-like nature combine to make this short, sweet little poem eminently readable.

Sweeping Wind

Sweeping wind, sweeping wind, sweeping wind,
Brushing leaves, rushing up, gusting through…
Rows of trees, whole armies, bow and bend
Where are you, where are you, where are you?
First it rains, then it snows, then it snows.
Where you are, I’ll never know, never know!
Everywhere, haunting me, is your face.
Every day, all the time, every place…
An endless sky sifts its misty musings in
Sweeping wind, sweeping wind, sweeping wind…

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