From: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/1973/08/09/translating-akhmatova/ Let us compare a literal translation and Kunitz’s translation: Podrazhanie Armianskomu
Ia prisnius’ tebe chernoi ovtsoiu
Na netverdykh, sukhikh nogakh,
Podoiudu, zableiu, zavoiu:
“Sladko l’uzhinal, padishakh?
Ty vselennuiu derzhish’, kak busu,
Svetloi volei Allakha khranim….
I prishelsia l’synok moi po vkusu
I tebe i detkam tvoim?”
You will dream me as a black ewe
On unsteady, withered legs,
I will come up, I will bleat, I will moan:
“Did you sweetly dine, Padishah?
You hold the universe like a bead,
Protected by the radiant will of Allah….
And did my son suit the taste
of you and your babies?”
—Akhmatova (literal translation)
In the form of a black ewe my ghost
will straggle through your dreams
on faltering, withered legs,
bleating: “Shah of the Shahs,
blessed in Allah’s eyes,
how well did you feast?
You hold the world in your hand
as if it were a cold bright bead….
But what about my boy,
did you enjoy his taste?”
—Kunitz The first question—What happened to the rhymes?—we will leave unanswered.
Moby-Dick (2010) is an opera in two acts with a libretto by Gene Scheer based on the great American novel by Herman Melville. Set in 1820, it tells the story of Ahab, captain of the ill-fated whaleship Pequod , and the crew he commands. Having lost one of his legs to the white whale called Moby Dick, Captain Ahab is obsessed with finding and destroying him at any cost. Only the ship’s first mate, Starbuck, sees the deadly implications of Ahab’s obsession. https://jakeheggie.com/moby-dick-2010/