Monday, October 10, 2005

Translation: No Little 'Twang'

Original: Noh Lickle Twang
By: Louise Bennett

me glad fe se's you come back bwoy,
But lawd yuh let me dung,
Me shame o' yuh soh till all o'
Me proudness drop a grung.

Yuh mean yuh goh dah 'Merica
An spen six whole mont' deh,
An come back not a peice betta
Dan how yuh did goh weh?

Bwoy yuh noh shame? Is soh you come?
Afta yuh tan soh lang!
Not even lickle language bwoy?
Not even little twang?

An yuh sista wat work ongle
One week wid 'Merican
She talk so nice now dat we have
De jooce fe undastan?

Bwoy yuh couldn't improve yuhself!
An yuh get soh much pay?
Yuh spen six mont' a foreign, an
Come back ugly same way?

Not even a drapes trouziz? or
A pass de rydim coat?
Bwoy not even a golw teet or
A gole chain roun yuh t'rout.

Suppose me las'rne pass go introjooce
Yuh to a stranga
As me lamented son wat lately
Come from 'Merica!

Dem hooda laugh afta me, bwoy
Me couldn't tell dem soh!
Dem hooda sey me lie, yuh was
A-spen time back a Mocho.

Noh back-ansa me bwoy, yuh talk
too bad; shet up yuh mout,
Ah doan know how yuh an yuh puppa
Gwine to meck it out.

Ef yuh want please him meck him tink
Yuh bring back something new.
Yuh always call him "Pa" dis evenin'
Wen him come sey "Poo".


I'm glad to see you're back, son
but I feel you've let me down.
I am highly disappointed,
my pride had hit the ground.

You went all the way to America
and spent six whole months there
and did not return any better
than how you left us here?

Have you no shame? Is this how you are?
After being there so long
you have no hint of an accent,
not even a slight change in tongue?

Your sister, who worked for only
one week with an American,
speaks so nicely now
we can't help but understand.

But you couldn't improve yourself
even though you received all that pay?
You actually spent six months there
and returned to us the very same way?

You did not even get good trousers
or a fashionable coat,
not even one gold tooth,
or a gold chain around your throat?

What would happen if my friend passed
and introduced you to a stranger
as the son I greived over that was
recently in America?

They would both laugh;
I could not bear to say so.
They would think I were lying,
that you were actually in Mocho.

Do not answer me boy, you speak
too badly, shut your mouth.
I don't know how you and your
father are going to make it out.

If you want to please him, make him think
you've brought back something new.
You always call him 'Pa',
this evening
when he comes, say 'Poo'.


Carmen said...

Hi, I will use your translation for a paper. Which name should I cite? Thanks a lot in advance.

Ken said...

This is very cool. A noble cause to translate Jamaican poems.

lee woo said...

Once we realize that imperfect understanding is the human condition there is no shame in being wrong, only in failing to correct our mistakes. See the link below for more info.