Many of the modern translations of Jalaluddin Rumi poems are in bad English, the metaphors don't make sense and there is no Sufi feeling in them, says Indo-British writer Farrukh Dhondy.
Marked by lyrical beauty and spiritual insight, a deep understanding of human suffering that coexists with rapturous abandon, the poems of Rumi, who was born in Wakhsh (Tajikistan) in 1207 to a family of learned theologians, continue to be relevant almost eight centuries after they were composed, with contemporary audiences finding new meanings in them.
While many recent translations have sought to give Rumi's poetry a certain hippy sensibility, robbing it of its true essence, Dhondy in his lyrical transliteration titled Rumi: A New Translation attempts to bring out the beauty and sensibility of the verses while imitating the metre of the original.
"I had, through my short and happy life, heard about Rumi and had heard Qawwali singers turning his poetry into lyrics. Then I was given a compilation of modern translations in English of Rumi and found that they were very disappointing. They were in bad English, the metaphors didn't make sense and there was no Sufi feeling in them. I thought I'd check this out and asked my uncle who reads Persian to recite and translate some Rumi of his choosing. He did and I thought it could be beautifully expressed in English. So the work began," Dhondy told
Rumi: A New Translation provides a modern idiom to the poems, carefully keeping intact their religious context. Rumi founded the Mevlevi Sufi order, a leading mystical brotherhood of Islam. He is also the author of the six-volume epic work, the Mathnawi, which has been referred to as the Koran in Persian.
"The work of the old translators Nicholson and Arberry is accurate and sometimes beautiful, but it's in Edwardian or even Victorian English and difficult to read. The modern translations done by Americans and people who live in America are trash- they mistake the Sufi philosophy for adolescent love lyrics - they haven't the skill to put the verse into rhyme and use no discernible rhythm.
"The metaphors are impossible to grasp. Some of these translations seem to treat Rumi as though he was a New Age guru. I have given examples of these bad 'translations' in the afterword to my own efforts. I think they are a commercially- motivated betrayal of the great Sufi tradition and of Rumi," says 67-year-old Dhondy.
The Pune-born writer and theatre personality asked his Persian-speaking friends to choose the extracts and stories of Rumi they remembered or could refer back to as memorable.
"Rumi's work is vast and would take a lifetime to translate. I traced the pervious Urdu and English translations of these verses if I could find them and worked on those to produce what I have. It is a random selection," he says about the verses he included in his book, published by Harper Collins.
According to Dhondy, the best way to translate poetry is to make it faithful and beautiful. "It sometimes takes a sort of linguistic plastic surgery to get the accurate meaning to take on beautiful features."
'Modern Translations of Rumi by Americans Are Trash'
Zafri Mudasser Nofil/New Delhi
THE LATEST ISSUE
- Clueless Congress Stumbles From One Poll Defeat To Another
- Cong To Form Fact-Finding Team To Analyse Poll Debacle
- Corpses Found Floating In Ganga
- 1st Priority Is To Contain Covid: CM Himanta Biswa Sarma
- Himachal: Cyber Thugs Target Covid Patients With False Promises Of Hospital Beds, Remdesivir
- Born April 18, Died April 20: The Spectacular Fall Of European Super League And Its Aftermath
- India In England: Prithvi Shaw Unlucky, Hardik Pandya Needs To Prove All-rounder Credentials
- Online Real Money Gaming: Why Present Is Imperfect And Future Is Tense
- For IPL Organisers, Loss Of Revenue Seems More Important Than Loss Of Lives Due To COVID
- Why Should Boys Have All The Fun? Sports For One And All!
- Why Virat Kohli Is Right And ICC Wrong: A Philosopher Looks At DRS
- India's Battle Against Covid: Grim Reaper Stalks The Land
- Why High Antibody Doesn’t Guarantee Protection From Covid
- Lancet Slams Modi Govt for Stoking a ‘Self-Inflicted National Catastrophe’
- Can You Get Covid After Vaccination?
- In A First, An Independent Candidate In TN Releases Election Expenses
- RSS- BJP Tussle Behind Kerala Poll Drubbing?
- 'Sushil Has Tarnished Wrestling's Image,' LOC Served After Murder
- Virat Kohli, Ishant Sharma Get First Dose Of COVID-19 Vaccine