Tiago's Tattoo, Revisited

This is – at least it feels like – a long time ago: I wanted to follow up on my translation of my friend Tiago's tattoo, so to speak, the "Last Poem" of Fernando Pessoa's heteronym Alberto Caeiro. I'm currently in the last stages of revising the translation of the whole book of Caeiro's poetry, which is supposed to come out in Norway in March. This is in many ways very simple poetry, but it's also one that has its own unique challenges for a translator.

But first, just to make this post worthwhile, a new excerpt from the translation:

Ah, dei vil ha eit lys betre enn sola!
Dei vil ha enger grønare enn desse!
Dei vil ha blomstrar vakrare enn dei eg ser!
For meg er denne sola, desse engene, desse blomstrane nok
Men om dei ein gong ikkje skulle vere nok,
Ville eg ha ei sol meir sol enn sola,
Ville eg ha enger meir enger enn desse engene,
Ville eg ha blomstrar meir desse blomstrane enn desse blomstrane –
Alt meir ideelt enn det er på same måte og same vis!
Den tingen der borte ville eg ha meir der borte enn der borte!
Ja, eg gret frå tid til annan over den perfekte kroppen som ikkje eksisterer.
Men den perfekte kroppen er den kroppaste kroppen som går an,
Og resten er draumar som menneska har,
Nærsynet til ein svaksynt,
Ein som ikkje kan stå sitt ønske om å sitte.
Heile kristendommen er ein draum om stolar.

English translation, by Richard Zenith:

Ah! They want a light that's better than the sun's!
They want meadows that are greener than these!
They want flowers more beautiful that these which I see!
For me this sun, these meadows and these flowers are enough.
But if they weren't enough,
What I would want is a sun more sun than the sun,
Meadows more meadows than these meadows,
Flowers more these flowers than these flowers –
Everything more ideal than it is, in the same way and same manner!
That thing over there more there than it is!
Yes, sometimes I weep for the perfect body that doesn't exist.
But the perfect body is the body that's the most body of all,
And the rest is the dreams of men,
The myopia of those who see little,
And the desire to sit by those who don't know how to stand.
All of Christianity is a dream of chairs.

And about the "Last Poem":

Tiagos tatto by ø
Tiago’s tattoo, eit foto av ø på Flickr.

In my original post I commented on the fact that the Tiago's tattooed version used another transcription of the last line than my Portuguese edition. Tiago replies that the original manuscript really is very ambiguous, and he's right.

Here's the manuscript page:

And here's the last line, with one word added, that could either be "antes" [before] or "ainda" [still]:

Fiz sinal de gostar de o ver antes/ainda: mais nada.

My version of the "last poem" has changed a little bit since my original blogging. It now reads:

Det er kanskje den siste dagen i livet mitt.
Eg helste sola, løfta den høgre handa,
Men eg helste henne ikkje for å seie farvel.
Eg viste at eg var glad for å ha sett henne, ikkje meir.

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