Friday, February 20, 2009

A Bible Translator Considers his Fate

"Put not your trust in princes", says the psalm.
King James will not be pleased; he'll call it cheek
and I might lose my life to royal pique.
Change "prince" to "parliament"—now that would calm
the sovereign storm. A minor alteration
could avert the loss of my perplexed
and sweating head, but falsify the text.
I'll pass it as an error of translation.

These Scriptures, copied by the careless hands
of scribes in many tongues and many lands:
no model of accuracy, it's true.
But still, to make deliberate misuse
of this, my given task: there's no excuse.
I'll write the words I see, and trust in You.

Collection available! Knocking from Inside

7 comments:

Stan Ski said...

Translation begins with trust.

Granny Smith said...

As a translator I can relate to this. Your poetry is impeccable - as usual!

Fledgling Poet said...

This was powerful...careless hands, indeed. Beautifully written!

sister AE said...

I love this. It reminds me of the impromptu sessions around the dinner table when I was a kid, when we pulled out bibles from the different traditions of my mom and dad and compared the texts and translations.

Tumblewords: said...

It is in the translation. Errors and not. Nicely done!

Sarah said...

Well done! Thank you for sharing with the WOMPOs.

bluebethley said...

A delicious play on words and on the issue of translating itself. I loved the irony of the final line . . . "and trust in YOU" by which you bring the reader back to the Spirit which informs the original (or the writers of the original). Here again, the translator's woes become apparent!