ossobuco: Legion from Mass Effect 2 (lyna sun)
[personal profile] ossobuco
Soooo, this is the thing I mentioned last post, the Sappho poem that struck me and reminded me of the Dalish elves and which I have translated and slightly adapted to be actually relevant to the Dalish. Um. I have retained as much of the original as possible, because what really drew me to it initially was the descriptions of nature in it, and mostly have just altered references to deities and things with symbolic meaning.

I have a lot of other thoughts on this, but I will spare you. XD


Dalish love poem (adapted from Sappho's fragment, Δεῦρύ μ' ἐκ Κρήτας)

Come meet me at the sacred ruin,
among the gentle apple groves
and altars smoked with calamus.

There, cold springs speak beneath the boughs,
the ground is painted over with roses,
deep slumber drops from the quivering leaves.

There, the meadow where the halla graze
is lush with ever-flowing blossoms;
there, the wind blows honey-soft.

There, o Sylaise, set burning the hearth
and pour with grace into gilded cups
honey and nectar for love's delight.


Edit: And because [personal profile] fyreharper wanted to know more of these thoughts, here they are. :3 So the original poem is an ode to Aphrodite, inviting her away from Krete (which supposedly had one of her earliest cults) to another temple for a festival. I have altered the core meaning a little bit--while the last stanza still invokes a goddess, the first stanza could be read as either addressed to Sylaise, or to a lover (this reading is also suggested by the last line, which I'll go into in a bit).

The first stanza is altered, first, to remove the reference to Krete, but also for some more subtle cultural symbolism. Ruins (rather than the original temple) because the elves don't have their own constructed buildings and temples--but the forests are filled with ancient ruins (mostly Tevinter, but as we see in the Dalish origin, sometimes from the older Elvish civilizations). Calamus rather than the original frankincense--calamus is a rush-like plant that numerous cultures in Europe and the Americas associate with love, and whose essential oils can be used in incense.

The second stanza is basically unchanged from original meaning, though I have intensified the second line a bit. The original line is literally "all the land is shaded by roses", with "shade" meaning the artistic sense of darkening or filling in an area, but I didn't want it to be read as shading like casting a shadow, and I wanted to emphasize the color and maintain a brightness here, so I went with "painted" which I think is not entirely incorrect.

The third stanza contained a really interesting word, a compound word adjective that is literally "horse-grazed". "The horse-grazed meadow" actually sounds okay in English, but I had to change "horse" to "halla", which didn't sound as good, plus I wanted to keep the meter at least halfway consistent across all the lines. Second line is unchanged, and the third is trouble because most of the third and fourth lines (the stanzas were four lines long in the original Greek, but they fit better into three in English) were missing. There was also a word (mellicha) that I could not make heads or tails of, not n the commentary that I used, not in my dictionary, not in Perseus. I have no idea what it means. At least one other translation that I found of this poem had something about winds blowing soft, and meli- or melli- often have to do with honey (mele, melissa), so I made a wild guess.

Fourth stanza is the most significantly altered. Obviously I have swapped out Kypris (Aphrodite) for a Dalish god. The Dalish don't have a deity that is explicitly for love. I chose Sylaise, goddess of the hearth, because love and marriage among the Dalish are fairly regulated--extremely monogamous, and with focus on family and producing children for the clan. So, a goddess who is concerned with the hearth (and thus, the home and family) seemed most appropriate for a Dalish love poem. The original first line evoked Aphrodite wearing her garlands, so I pretty much changed the whole line to fit Sylaise.

The third line of the last stanza contained a couple really interesting words. The original talks about pouring "mixed nectar"--but the word that Sappho uses for "mixed" is also a euphemism for intercourse, and I could not for the life of me think of a good way to reflect this, which crushed me because it's so awesome and it makes the poem's ending so sexy. Even saying "the mixed nectar" didn't sound good to me, so I went with "honey and nectar" to preserve the joining/mixing of substances. Instead, I moved the amorous connotations to the other half of the line. Again, the original is different, and it's another interesting word that basically means "joy, revelry," etc; in the plural (as it is in this poem), it can refer to a festival or a party. Since I wrote this with the idea that it's a poem from someone to their lover, basically asking Sylaise to bless their union (rather than an ode asking a god to attend a festival), I went with a more intimate feeling and interjecting "love" because, hey, it's a love poem.

Date: Tuesday, December 20th, 2011 04:45 pm (UTC)
fyreharper: (Default)
From: [personal profile] fyreharper
Other thoughts? Spare us not! I would love to hear your more-thoughts-on-this ^^

Date: Wednesday, December 21st, 2011 04:46 am (UTC)
fyreharper: (Default)
From: [personal profile] fyreharper
HURRAY! It is extra awesome seeing all the thinkies behind this :D

By the way, I love the imagery of "the ground is painted over with roses". Just yes. *makes happy flaily hands* it even smells good.

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