Don't change a word!
Wolf Biermann becomes 70 these days. So they showed him in concert in a church in Leipzig in the DDR in 1989. Short time before the DDR dissolved. Of course you know that the DDR (Deutsche Demokratische Republic), the German Democratic Republic was the Eastern, communistic, UDSSR controlled, divided part of Germany
Biermann as German Liedermacher (songwriter) and former East German dissident was expelled from the DDR because of his critical public opinion in theater pieces & mainly in his critical songs.
So he became a cult person to the censored & suppressed in free speech people of the former DDR. –
This last concert in the still-DDR was only possible, because Gorbatshov hat alreade spread the message of ‘Glasnost’, Honecker was already forced to leave & it was the last days of a dying regime.
You can find Wolf Biermann in . wikipedia of course , but I’m not about talking about Biermanns life & his merits here –
In fact he was never important to me, but I appreciated him somehow – so while his concert record on TV was shewn – I phoned with some people, read some blogs in internet etc. –
But later on one of his little speeches between the songs drew my attention. – He was talking about a Shakespeare sonnet, he had translated & built into a song. – I began curiously to listen. – It was Shakespeare sonnet no 66, which he first citated before he sang it along with his good old protest singers guitar style of the 60ies.
Later on I searched for the original text in English & found it here:
Sonnet LXVI (66)of William Shakespeare
Tired with all these, for restful death I cry,
As to behold desert a beggar born,
And needy nothing trimm'd in jollity,
And purest faith unhappily forsworn,
And gilded honour shamefully misplac'd,
And maiden virtue rudely strumpeted,
And right perfection wrongfully disgrac'd,
And strength by limping sway disabled
And art made tongue-tied by authority,
And folly, doctor-like, controlling skill,
And simple truth miscall'd simplicity,
And captive good attending captain ill:
Tir'd with all these, from these would I be gone,
Save that, to die, I leave my love alone.
But after he had citated the sonnet & before he he sang it, he told, that the novelist Feuchtwanger had written the text of Sonnet 66 also in his book ‘Exile’. Also Hanns Eisler, the composer had used the text of Shakespeare’s sonnet 66 in his music. - & both of them had left the last 2 lines of the sonnet.
Eisler & Feuchtwanger had something in common: they were convinced Stalinist influenced comunists, once living in the USA door at door in exile from Hitler’s Reich. - & both had omitted the last 2 lines, which was the conclusion & pointed counterpart of all the lines before.
Biermann suggested why: “because both, ridden by their ideology & Zeitgeist didn’t like the idea that someone’s purpose to live on would be only by a personal love to another person, which they concidered as bourgeous individualism, much hated by the group thinking of comunistic ideals in that time. –
So why not falsify old poetry to fit to the actual way of thinking? –
I wonder how often in history old texts & lyrics got changed, just because the people who copied (with handwriting) & translated thought some ideas & expressions too old fashioned & out of time to be given on to future generation. – So they just correct & change it. –
I always hated it & hate it if they change the original words of an author for better understanding or trying to put it in their words of false interpretation.
In & since my youth I read the old Greek Ilias (Troja – Odysseus (Ulysses)) of Homer myths in origin, & a lot of authors in the origin long version. – I had an aunt who trended to send me books, made understandable for children, means shortenend & simplified. – I got aware of their apocryphality even at the age of 10 & never read them (Ilias in about 100 pages – ha!)
There’s been once a new version of the bible around (probably still is) – it was called “Die Frohe Botschaft” (The Cheerful Message) – I got aware of it, because this pseudo bible of course was also sent by that aunt. - It’s contents were translated to a ‘modern’ up-to-date language, probably meant to reach the youth, but the original & meaning of a lot of verses was totally changed.
I also hate it, if translators change the meaning, just because they think it sounds better in the other language. – No – it doesn’t sound better – it’s just wrong!!!
It’s often the lower spirit who tries to correct the higher spirit, just because he doesn’t understand him (you just can’t pour the contents of a bigger bowl into a smaller bowl without losing a lot of the contents).
So - all you translators & interpretors who so zealously try to change the origin word & message – Why not write your own stuff?
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