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Lost and Found in Translation

Posted by:
May 21, 2022

Excerpted in Prism from Shadows and Echoes, the Language and Literatures Department’s publication, in 2004.

In what Shadows and Echoes hopes will be an annual feature, “Lost and Found in Translation” takes a poem by Emily Dickinson and translates it through a number of languages (German, French, Catalan, Spanish, and Latin) before bringing it (or something!) back into English. Each of the translators worked only from the text immediately preceding. 

Wild Nights – Wild Nights!
Were I with thee
Wild Nights should be
Our luxury!

Futile – the Winds –
To a Heart in port –
Done with the Compass –
Done with the Chart!

Rowing in Eden –
Ah, the Sea!
Might I but moor – Tonight –
In Thee!

– Emily Dickinson


Wilde Nächte – Wilde Nächte!
Wär’ ich doch mit euch
Dann wären wilde Nächte,
Unsere Freud’!

Nutzlos – die Winde –
Für ein Herz im Hafen –
Am Ende des Suchens –
Am Ende des Planens!

Rudern im Eden –
Oh, die See!
Könnt’ ich nur ankern – Heute –
In ihr!

– Translated by Christine Newcomb

PLU Fountain in 2018


Nuits sauvages, nuits d’orages
Quelle douceur serait nôtre
Si auprès de vous
Je m’y figurais

Nulle rafale n’atteint
Le coeur ancré au port
Fini les voyages
Fini les transports

Naviguant au paradis
Ô la mer
Rivée à ton coeur
Puisse je m’apaiser

– Translated by Helen Williams-Ginsberg


Nits salvatges, nits de tempesta
Quina dolçor seria la nostra
si a prop teu,
amb tu jo m’ imaginés.

Cap ràfega no trasbalsa
el cor fondejat a port
finalitzats els viatges
finalitzats els transports.

Navegant cap al paradís.
Oh, mar
lligada al teu cor
em pugui jo asserenar.

– Translated by Maria Lightner-Ferrer

Rainy day on the campus in 2019


Noches salvajes, noches de tormenta,
Qué dulzura sería la nuestra
Si cerca de ti
Me viera yo.

Ninguna ráfaga molesta,
Fondeado el corazón en puerto,
Acabados los viajes,
Concluidas las singladuras.

Navegando hacia el paraíso,
Oh, mar,
Ligada a tu corazón,
Pueda yo serenarme.

– Translated by Paloma Martínez-Carbajo


O noctes truces, noctes tempestatum
Nobis quam dulce sit si videam me
Ad te sedere.

Nulla procella molesta, aliquando
Animus ancoris stetit in portu,
Cursu confecto.

Vecta ad extrema caelestium, o mare,
Capta animo tuo possem fieri
Tranquilla mente.

– Translated by Rochelle Snee

Foggy PLU night in 2016


O wild nights, tempestuous nights!
For us, how sweet, should I see me
Sitting with you.

No hurricane threatens a heart
At anchor, secured in port
Its journey complete.

Rise to the highest heavens, O Sea!
Bound by your heart I could become
Tranquil in mind.

– Translated by Eric Nelson