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Experimental Poetry 13


This idea of this experimental poem is to use repeated translation to introduce surprise, humor, and randomness into your poetry.

The idea is simple. First, enter a poem in whatever language you want to start with, say English. Next, translate from English to another language, say Spanish, Chinese, anything really. I will be general and call the next language "A". Next, translate from language A to language B, from B to C, and so on. For illustration, say we stop at C. For the last step, translate from C back to English. The result is your poem.

To illustrate this idea, I use The Road Not Taken, by Frost.

I used Google Translate to translate from English to German, then German to Sesotho, and then Sesotho back to English:

Two roads run through the jungle,
And unfortunately I couldn't go both
And be a traveler, as long as I'm standing
And I looked down as I could
There, where it was bent over a low tree;
One regards it as just,
And maybe you have a better case
Because what it was and wanted to wear;
But for that matter, it's over
Is he really dressed like that?
And they were both the same this morning
In Laub, no action had taken Schwarz.
Oh, I saved the first one for another day!
But to know the way,
I wondered if I would ever return.
I will say it with a sigh
Therefore, everywhere in old age and age:
Two lanes run through the forest and I-
I walked a little,
And that made the difference.

Next, I translated from English to Chinese, from Chinese to Portuguese, and from Portuguese back to English:

The two roads are divided into the yellow wood,
Sorry, I can't travel at the same time.
A traveler, I've been stationary for a long time.
And look down as far as possible I can
Where it bends in the bushes;
And then take the other, just as fair,
Maybe there's a better request.
Because it was grass and wanted to use;
Although to pass there
Wearing them really the same,
and two mornings how to lie
There was not a step in the leaves that had been black.
Oh, I left my first day!
However, knowing how to lead the way,
I doubt I should come back.
I'm going to sigh.
Somewhere age and age like this:
The two roads divided into the forest, and I
I take a trip less, made a difference.

Because the translations are not perfect, you can get some very interesting results, especially the more you translate. Please credit if you use this idea.

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