Christopher Nicholson Prize
This may not have been a vintage year for foreign travel, but CH pupils showed their cosmopolitan – and creative – leanings with some spectacular poetry. The CH Poetry in Translation 2021 event culminated in a seminar with the professional translator Rahul Bery, who adjudicated eleven shortlisted entries translated from traditional school languages (French, Latin and Spanish) but also from Russian, Japanese and Igbo.
Rahul highly commended Aimee-Chance’s (DG/Year 12) witty translation of ‘Carmen’ by Gautier (he said that it was ‘a great example of using the original rhythm and rhyme as a restraint that turns out to be liberating’) and Alex’s (DG/Year 12) version of ‘City of Onitsha’ by Nkechinyere Okediadi (‘wonderful, and revelatory. It felt fluent in English but also felt like a new poetic form, a kind of declamatory, oral poetry that isn’t so common in English’.)
However the Christopher Nicholson Prize – named after a great CH teacher of the past, went to Ha Eun (DG/Year 12), who translated from Victor Hugo. Rahul commented: ‘This really blew me away. He Eun found such an ingenious solution for how to balance fidelity to the original and creating something that worked in English, by creating a hybrid between free verse and metred, rhyming verse. By making each line so spare and deceptively simple, she created something really powerful’.
Ha Eun’s winning translation is printed below, with the original French version.
Demain, dès l’aube by Victor Hugo
Demain, dès l’aube, à l’heure où blanchit la campagne,
Je partirai. Vois-tu, je sais que tu m’attends.
J’irai par la forêt, j’irai par la montagne.
Je ne puis demeurer loin de toi plus longtemps.
Je marcherai les yeux fixés sur mes pensées,
Sans rien voir au dehors, sans entendre aucun bruit,
Seul, inconnu, le dos courbé, les mains croisées,
Triste, et le jour pour moi sera comme la nuit.
Je ne regarderai ni l’or du soir qui tombe,
Ni les voiles au loin descendant vers Harfleur,
Et, quand j’arriverai, je mettrai sur ta tombe
Un bouquet de houx vert et de bruyère en fleur.
Tomorrow, At Dawn
(translation by Ha Eun)
Tomorrow, at dawn,
When the countryside brightens,
I will leave.
I know that you wait for me.
I’ll go by the forest,
I’ll go by the mountains.
I cannot stay so far from
I will walk, my eyes firmly fixed,
Fixed on my
Not seeing anything outside,
Or hearing noise,
Back bent, and
Hands crossed, and
The day shall be like night.
I will not look at the
Falling gold of evening,
Nor the distant sails
Descending to Harfleur,
And, when I do arrive,
I will put on your tomb
A bouquet of green hollies,
Of blooming heathers.