Dec. 29th, 2009

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Jo Walton posted at Tor on Susan Cooper's The Dark Is Rising, noting in passing that she preferred to think of the poem that drives the plot as an indifferent translation from the Welsh. On a whim, and with the aid of the online lexicon and verb conjugator, I did an untranslation. Roman text is Cooper's English; bold is my Welsh; italic is a literal translation back into English. I've doubtless made some mistakes somewhere, so nitpicking is appreciated.

The Dark is rising; six shall turn it back.
When the Dark comes rising, six shall turn it back (Thanks, [ profile] ashfae)
Pan godir y dywyllwch, anghenir chwech ei atroi.
When the darkness rises, six are needed to turn it back.
Three from the circle, three from the track.
Deuir tair o'r gylch, a dair o'r llwybr[1].
Three come from the circle, and three from the pathway.
Iron for the birthday, bronze carried long
Ar ben y flwyddyn[2], haearn; gludwyd yr efydd o hyd.
At the head of the year, iron; the bronze was carried all this time.
Wood from the burning, stone out of song.
Yn y llosg canfyddir y bren, ac yn gerdd[3] y maen.
In the conflagration the wood is found, and in song the stone.
Fire from the candle ring, -
Chwiliwch y dân yn gylch y ganhwyllau,
Search for the fire in the circle of candles,
- water from the thaw;
ac yn y ddadmeriad ddarganfyddir y ddwr.
And in the melting ice for the water.
Six signs the circle -
Gwneir y gylch o'r chwech arwydd[4]
The circle is made from the six signs
- and the grail gone before.
Ac aethpwyd y greal yn y flaen.
And the grail went ahead.

[1] Llwybr mostly means "path"; trac is a perfectly good Welsh word, but it sounds wrong in context to me.

[2] Penblwydd means "birthday" - literally, "year-head".

[3] Cân could have served instead of cerdd, but the first refers more to lyrics (including spoken poetry) and the latter to music or song as an art form.

[4] Arwydd is the common Welsh word for a sign; an informational one, an omen or portent, and a military ensign or banner. Argoel carries only the sense of an omen or portent.

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