T. S. Eliot: “Morning at the Window” (with Weinstein)

Morning at the Window …

Originally uploaded by Azorina

Weinstein, the eponymous protagonist of Woody Allen’s 1975 story No Kaddish for Weinstein, was a “precocious child. At 12, he translated the poems of T.S. Eliot into English after some vandals had broken into the library & translated them into French.”

I’ve always wondered what the vandals had done with Eliot and what Weinstein’s restoration looked like.  So, I’ve selected one of T. S. Eliot‘s short poems,  Morning at the Window, and subjected it to the kind of havoc that only Googe Translate can wreak.

Here is Eliot’s (original) poem:

They are rattling breakfast plates in basement kitchens,
And along the trampled edges of the street
I am aware of the damp souls of housemaids
Sprouting despondently at area gates.
The brown waves of fog toss up to me
Twisted faces from the bottom of the street,
And tear from a passer-by with muddy skirts
An aimless smile that hovers in the air
And vanishes along the level of the roofs.
——-T. S. Eliot

Next, I used Google to translate the poem sequentially, from the original English to French, from the French to German, from the German to Russian, from the Russian to Czech, from the Czech to French, and, finally, from that French back to English.  Then, I had Weinstein review the latter English text for punctuation and he made some minor changes.  The resulting poem reads:

They have excellent breakfast plates in basement kitchens,
A step on the roadside,
I know the humidity of the house of the soul,
Germinating glumly at the door.
Brown waves beginning, I fog
Twisted pages down the road,
And cracks in the mud with skirts.
A smile–no target is in the air–
Then went on the roof.
——-Weinstein via Googlized text

Well, if I’ve learned one thing from this exercise, it’s this: there may be some mourning for Weinstein after all.


~ by matt on 22 May 2009.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Natalie E. Illum...

is a poet, performer and disability activist. Bring her stumbling to your city.

%d bloggers like this: