Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Translating Madhushala

I'm working on translating Madhushala, by Harivansh Rai Bachchan, to English (from Hindi). I'm not just trying to port it to English, but I'd like to interpret it and spin the words with my own whirl (meaning I won't literally translate, so no comments about "you got that word wrong").

Here is a sample from one of my favorite paragraphs, and I'll try to post the full translation if I ever get the whole thing done (its kinda long):

मदिरालय जाने को घर से चलता है पीनेवाला
' किस पथ से जाऊँ? ' असमंजस में है वह भोलाभाला
अलग- अलग पथ बतलाते सब, पर मैं यह बतलाता हूँ -
' राह पकड़ तू एक चला चल, पा जाएगा मधुशाला॥४॥

Alco-holidays, on their mind, while heading out, to the bar,

people waxing innocence, ask, for directions. Answers heard,

routes proffered, lots of styles. But, myself, instead, I reveal
a single rule:

“Pick a path and walk, my friend, every way’s a madhushala

As far as I am concerned, my dad sort of invented the word alcoholiday, as a jest. Also, I'm having trouble translating madhushala. Most people write it as tavern, but wine dominates the poem as the drink of choice and I feel a tavern is more of a beer place. I've been trying to make up words, like winetrap, my current favorite. If you have a new, invented english world that you think means madhushala, and you want to get it immortalized in my soon-to-be-famous translation, let me know.