Tudor Arghezi–Rag

Tudor Arghezi has always been a tough one to translate. Right now I’m belaboring over his Morgenstimmung, which has got to be one of the most frustrating poems I’ve worked on, which, trust me, is saying something. The only thing that keeps me going is my relative past success with one of his poems, a beloved children’s classic taught in every Romanian kindergarten. It’s a sweet little poem about a crafty dog named Zdreanta (Rag(s)), written by Arghezi for his daughter, Mitzura.

I’ve decided to do something different this time: in the first column you have the Romanian original, in the second a very literal translation of the poem, and in the third the final version, which preserves both the rhythm and the rhymes.

de Tudor Arghezi

L-ati vãzut cumva pe Zdreanta,
Cel cu ochii de faianta?
E un câine zdrenturos
De flocos, dar e frumos.
Parca-i strans din petice,
Ca sã-l tot impiedice,
Ferfenitele-i atarna
Si pe ochi, pe nara carna,
Si se-ncurca si descurca,
Parca-i scos din calti pe furca.
Are insa o ureche
De pungas fãrã pareche.
Da tarcoale la cotet,
Ciufulit si-asa laiet,
Asteptand un ceas si doua
O gaina sã se oua,
Care canta cotcodace,
Proaspat oul când si-l face.
De când e-n gospodarie
Multe a-nvatat si stie,
Si, pe branci, taras, grapis,
Se strecoara pe furis.
Pune laba, ia cu botul
Si-nghite oul cu totul.

— "Unde-i oul? a-ntrebat
Gospodina. — "L-a mancat!"
"Stai nitel, ca te dezvat
Fara matura si bat.
Te invata mama minte."
Si i-a dat un ou fierbinte.
Dar decum l-a imbucat,
Zdreanta l-a si lepadat
Si-a-njurat cu un latrat.

Când se uita la gaina,
Cu culcusul lui, vecina,
Zice Zdreanta-n gandul lui
"S-a fãcut a dracului!" 

by Tudor Arghezi

Did you happen to see Rag,
The one with porcelain eyes?
He’s a dog so hairy, he’s raggedy,
But he’s handsome.
It seems he’s gathered from patches
And that they make him trip all the time.
His tatters hang
Over his eyes, his turned-up nostril,
And he’s tangled and untangled,
Like he’s spun out of [unprocessed] wool on a spindle.
He however has the ear
Of an unmatched thief [pickpocket].
He circles round the chicken coop,
Fur all messy and long,
Waiting for an hour or two
For a hen to lay an egg,
The hen clucks
When she lays a fresh egg.
Since he’s been in this household
He’s learnt a lot, and he knows [a lot],
And on his fours, crawling,
He creeps furtively,
Lays a paw, takes with his muzzle,
And he swallows the entire egg.

“Where’s the egg?” asked
The housewife. –“He ate it!”
“Wait a little, I’ll unlearn you,
Without [using] a broom and a stick,
Momma will teach you!”
And she gave him a hot egg.
But as soon as he put it in his mouth,
Rag dropped it,
And swore with a bark.

When he looks at the hen—
His neighbor,

Rag says to himself,
“She’s a damn tricky one!”

by Tudor Arghezi

Did you happen to see Rag,
China eyes under that shag?
He’s a dog with ragged fur
Very handsome, as it were.
Looks like he is patched together
Ragged tatter over tatter.
Shreds of fur over his eyes
Put his nose into disguise.
He’s all tangled as a fool
Like he’s freshly spun from wool.
But amazingly, this slobber
Is a cunning, practiced robber.
Loiters by the chicken coop
With his scruffy furry droop,
Waiting calmly for a hen
To lay eggs for him again,
Clucking happily as she
Makes a fresh egg instantly.
Since he’s been in this household
He has learnt a lot, I’m told,
And he crawls, at steady pace,
Slinks towards that hidden place,
Paw and muzzle through the hole,
And he swallows the egg whole!

“Where’s the egg?” Asked then the lady,
Of the house, “It’s gone—he ate it!”
“Wait a minute, I’ll unlearn you,
Of this rotten habit, too!
I will teach you not to steal.”—
So a hot egg was his meal.
But as soon as Rag chowed down,
He dropped it quickly with a frown
And swore with a big bow-wow. 

When he looks now at the hen—
Next door neighbor, in her pen—
Mutters Rag begrudgingly:
“Damn! She’s trickier than me!”

Ok, that made me feel better. Now, back to work!

One thought on “Tudor Arghezi–Rag

  1. Wow, impresionanta munca ta! Am gasit site-ul tau tocmai pentru ca am pornit in cautarea traducerii poemului Morgenstimmung. De abia astepti sa termini traducerea. L-as fi tradus eu insami dar nu sunt niciodata multumita de varianta finala a traducerii unui poem si am ajuns la concluzia ca e mai bien sa apelez la traduceri realizate de alte persoane.
    Sper sa termini traducerea cat mai curand! Succes!

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