Robert Frost in Translation/Polish/Zatrzymanie pod lasem

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Zatrzymanie pod lasem w wieczór śnieżny is a Polish translation of Robert Frost's poem Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Aleksander Janta-Połczyński

Zatrzymanie pod lasem w wieczór śnieżny[edit]

Czyj jest ten las to chyba wiem On przecież we wsi ma swój dom I nie zobaczy mnie gdy stanę Spojrzeć jak las pokrywa szron

Zdumiony konik zwolnił kroku Z dala od chaty skrytej w mroku Gdzie tylko las i zmarzły staw To najciemniejsza noc w tym roku

Dzwonkiem uprzęży konik dzwoni Jak gdyby pytał czym zabłądził I tylko słychać wiatru szum I płatków śniegu puch łabędzi

las jest tak piękny, mroczny, gęsty, Ale dotrzymać mam obietnic Przed sobą drogi szmat nim zasnę Przed sobą drogi szmat nim zasnę

Analysis[edit]

In his translation, Aleksander Janta-Połczyński managed to preserve the structure of the poem, and generally, the rhyming pattern. However, he was not so successful with its content, although he managed not to create a pastoral mood (which Marjańska failed to do in her Przystając w lesie w śnieżny wieczór). In the first two stanzas of the poem, the translation is so literal, that it sounds oddly to a Polish reader. We get this impression of the strangeness already in the title, where stopping was translated as zahamowanie. The verb is not very frequently used in Polish and has strong medical connotations. Another thing that sounds a bit oddly in the translation is the last verse of the first stanza. Połczyński works here with a Polish phrase naniosło śniegu [it brought a lot of snow], making the snow an agent. The Polish verb does not allow passive voice in the way the English one does. As a result, we get a strange phrase, sounding ungrammatically, which makes a reader confused, rather that creates an image.

The most surprising thing happens in the third stanza, where the horse instead of asking if there is some mistake [czy to jakaś pomyłka], he asks: Czyżby duch jaki straszył w kniei? [is there a ghost hounding the woods?]. Suddenly, an unusual situation from the original turns into a ghost in the translation, while Frost does not mention any spiritual or supernatural beings. Finally, there is a collocating problem in the final stanza. The translator’s idea was to use the word moc to imply a lot of promises. Although it is a frequent use of this word in Polish, moc does not collocate with obietnice [promises], which again makes a reader focus on the wording, rather that ponder upon the meaning of the poem.

See Also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. Janta-Połczyński, Aleksander. Robert Frost i inni amerykańscy poeci: tłumaczenia. Tematy, 1970. s. 25.