Mudcat Café message #3227203 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #44800   Message #3227203
Posted By: GUEST,Andrew Calhoun
22-Sep-11 - 11:50 AM
Thread Name: Word meanings in Banks Of Sicily
Subject: finished translation
One of the great things about doing a translation is how much that requires you to engage with the work itself. To think about the author's intentions, to see the beauty of the formal structure. HH is able to run the aa rhyme from verse 2 to 8. "Away" rhymes with "wall" in Scots and I can't do that, but I have run the rhymes through each section of four verses, and it feels important, to keep that long march feeling with the rhymes. I thought about "hazy" for the piper, among a hundred other words, but settled on the clearest depiction of his preoccupation, other than "distracted," which is less than poetic. "All the bright chambers are eerie" is such a resonant line. HH refers to "ye valleys," and "ye shibbeens and bothies," - but not to "ye signorinas" - there's an abstraction from the body there, eerie in itself. We'll remember the buildings. Chamber - room, gun, heart. When I learned this in Scots 35 years ago, I thought the drummer was leaving with Lola, it didn't get across that he was leaving the photo with her. And for several days while working on this, I thought "for a photo and aa" was a weak throwaway put in for the rhyme. I woke up one morning and it dawned on me that it wasn't "and all" in the sense of "and everything," but carried into all for the leave it with Lola. So I put in the word "it" for clarity. I ordered a used copy of "A' the Bairns o' Adam, A Tribute to Hamish Henderson" on Greentrax, and HH sings it there, having "kind signorinas are cheerie" after "Jock makes a date," which seems natural anyway. The only change in meaning from the original (other than losing the penumbra of an ambiguous one) is "kyles," which are straits, are "hills" here. "Shaw" is a wood, not a shore. The CD I got is used, and it is from radio station KVMR, marked as such, and on the back the music director wrote on a label: "Scottish war songs only a purist patriot could love except maybe 5,8,14." Not included in 5, 8, 14, are Farewell to Sicily, The Speaking Heart, or Freedom Come-All-Ye. I rest my case for translation. HH says they had expected to return to Italy, but were headed back to Scotland and then to France. "Leave your kit this side of the wall" seems like an image for going into battle. Wouldn't they be taking the kit with them on the ferry?


    The piper is brooding, the piper is fey,
    He will not come round for his vino today.
    The sky o'er Messina is foreign and grey
    And all the bright chambers are eerie.

    Then farewell ye banks o' Sicily   
    Fare ye well ye valley and shade
    There's no Jock will mourn the hills o' ye
    Poor bloody bastards are weary.

    And farewell ye banks o' Sicily
    Fare ye well ye valley and shade.
    There's no home can cure the ills o' ye
    Poor bloody bastards are weary.

    Then down the stair and line the waterside
    Wait your turn, the ferry's away
    Down the stair and line the waterside
    All the bright chambers are eerie

    The drummer is polished, the drummer is tall
    He cannot be seen for his webbing at all
He's buffed himself up for a photo and all
For to leave it with his Lola, his dearie.

And fare well ye dives o' Sicily
   Fare ye well ye cottage and hall
    We''ll all mind canteens and shanties
    Where Jock made a date with his dearie.

      Then fare well ye dives o' Sicily
    Fare ye well ye cottage and hall
   We'll all mind ye stables and shanties
    Where kind signorinas were cheerie.

    Then tune the pipes and drub the tenor drum
    Leave your kit this side o' the wall
    Then tune the pipes and drub the tenor drumó
    All the bright chambers are eerie.