Turu-turu

I noticed this song when I had completed only one or two translations. It seemed impossible to translate then. I’m still not sure how it will turn out, but let’s take a flyer.

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You can hear it here: http://aathavanitli-gani.com/Song/Hi_Chal_Turu_Turu.

-o-

Literal Translation

This gait trot trot fly hair swish swish
On the left eye tress descended
Refrain:
As if in the setting sunlight, in the kevada forest
A female cobra slithered sounding sal sal

Here no one is in the vicinity
In the corners of your eyes laugh no
You a little with me speak no
The bud of your lips open no
You going in a bustle, turning back and looking
The path in steps faltered
Refrain

Without cause tensing eyebrow
Bringing a false sulk
End of the sari squeezing with hand
Lip a little you press with teeth
This rage life-taking, false false-only pretense
Now to myself the sign has become clear
Refrain

-o-

This is a light song of early wooing in which the man entreats and the woman, while retreating, is intrigued.

There is not much of Nature in this song except for the metaphor of a slithering snake in the thicket in the setting sun – which is quite out of place in English. All the cues are interpersonal: it is about the inner conflicts of the woman flowing into her expressions and actions.

The language is everyday and casual, of a conversation between equals.

What’s distinct is the rhythm. The opening and the refrain are on a trot, and the stanzas are drawn in entreaty.

-o-

Poetic Translation

This rapid walk
Your swishing hair
A fallen lock
A silken snare

A swaying grace
A rustling run
A fragrant trace
The slanting sun

There’s no one around won’t you please stay awhile
Won’t you light up your lovely eyes in a smile
With a gentle word won’t you gather close
Won’t the bud of your lips petal into a rose

Your bustle and haste
Yet a backward gaze
The path in a twist
Stops in our midst

A swaying grace
A rustling run
A fragrant trace
The slanting sun

Why is your eyebrow arched in a doubt
Why do you wear an affected pout
You clutch your purse in a checked assent
Bite your lips, end the “yes” you meant

This vexing rage
Your false excuse
I’ve learnt to gauge
Your sign, your ruse

A swaying grace
A rustling run
A fragrant trace
The slanting sun

-o-

Improvements: “haste” to “chase”, “Stops” to “Arrests”, and “purse” to “blouse”. Also, “There’s no one” to “No one’s”, “You clutch” to “Why clutch”, and “Bite” to “Why bite”

-o-

Please read the comments below for an organic discussion of this translation, or read the “finished” version of these translations here: (pdf).

10 thoughts on “Turu-turu

  1. “Bud … petal into a rose” is the gem of a phrase this translation threw up. For easier flow, “petal” (high-low stress) needs to be another 2-syllable word with low-high stress. For example, “evert” fits rather well in flow and meaning – but it is not a common, conversational word. The image of a bud petaling into a rose is too striking to strike out – so I’ll let it stand after changing the “into” to just “in”.

  2. “evert” is too artificial and is out of tune. But the line is good as it is, with “petal” as a verb, with “petal into a rose”; “in” makes it insipid.

  3. Yes, this is no high poetry. The purpose of this translation series is partly to attempt various kinds of Marathi songs or poems of some note and unique characteristics, and find a corresponding expression in English. This piece recommends itself for the onomatopoeia (turu-turu, bhuru-bhuru, sal-sal, lag-bag) and for the two rhythms reflecting, in the fast one, the man’s thoughts to himself, and in the slow one, his “chatting up” of the woman. The onomatopoeia is transferred using swish, sway, rustle, bustle, etc. and the change of pace is evident.

  4. Ballads can be of high diction and contents. Two examples:

    From The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
    Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834)

    It is an ancient Mariner,
    And he stoppeth one of three.
    “By thy long gray beard and glittering eye,
    Now wherefore stopp’st thou me?

    The Bridegroom’s doors are opened wide,
    And I am next of kin;
    The guests are met, the feast is set:
    May’st hear the merry din.”

    He holds him with his skinny hand,
    “There was a ship,” quoth he.
    “Hold off! Unhand me, gray-beard loon!”
    Eftsoons his hand dropt he.

    He holds him with his glittering eye–
    The Wedding-Guest stood still,
    And listens like a three years’ child:
    The Mariner hath his will.

    The Wedding-Guest sat on a stone:
    He cannot choose but hear;
    And thus spake on that ancient man,
    The bright-eyed Mariner.

    The ship was cheered, the harbor cleared,
    Merrily did we drop
    Below the kirk, below the hill,
    Below the lighthouse top.

    The Second Coming
    William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)

    Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.

    Surely some revelation is at hand;
    Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
    The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
    When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
    Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
    A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
    A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
    Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
    Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.

    The darkness drops again; but now I know
    That twenty centuries of stony sleep
    Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
    And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
    Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

  5. A Rondeau

    Listen, Everyone!
    Jehan Valliant (14th century)

    Listen, everyone! I have lost my girl
    For he who finds her, on my soul
    Even though she is fair and kindly
    I give her up heartily
    Without raising a stink at all.

    This girl knows her graces well
    God knows, she loves and is loyal
    For heaven’s sake, let him keep her secretly
    Listen, everyone! I have lost my girl

    Look after her well, this pearl
    Let no one hurt or wound her
    For by heaven, this pretty
    Is sweetness itself to everybody
    Woe is me! I cry to the world
    Listen, everyone! I have lost my girl

  6. Final:

    This rapid walk
    Your swishing hair
    A fallen lock
    A silken snare

    A swaying grace
    A rustling run
    A fragrant trace
    The slanting sun

    No one’s around won’t you please stay awhile
    Won’t you light up your lovely eyes in a smile
    With a gentle word won’t you gather close
    Won’t the bud of your lips petal into a rose

    Your bustle and chase
    Yet a backward gaze
    The path in a twist
    Arrests in our midst

    A swaying grace
    A rustling run
    A fragrant trace
    The slanting sun

    Why is your eyebrow arched in a doubt
    Why affect such a sulk and a pout
    Why clutch your blouse in a checked assent
    Why bite your lips, end the “yes” you meant

    This vexing rage
    Your false excuse
    I’ve learnt to gauge
    Your sign, your ruse

    A swaying grace
    A rustling run
    A fragrant trace
    The slanting sun

  7. Lopa, “turu turu” means trot trot, applied to the gait of her walk. He is trying to interest her, and she mostly ignores him – but there’s the beginning of a hint of interest.

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