Tone Pavček – ‘Black cat’ translation #poetry

Oh black cat, little bandit sweet,
who crosses my path every night,

please do not run away from me,
listen, I tell you, do not flee.

I only wish to stroke your sleek
dark fur, your silky neck.

For I have also, so I’m told
a hand that’s made to stroke, to hold.

But no-one in the world knows this,
but no-one in the world knows this.

Black cat, don’t shun me on my way
as all the world has done, but stay.

Today I’m posting another translation of a poem by Tone Pavček, from the collection Samo tu lahko živim (2005). When I saw the title, ‘Black cat,’ I thought this might be a poem fit for Halloween. But it turned out to be something much deeper.

I have to say, I find translation much harder than writing my own poetry. First of all, you have to fit your words to someone else’s rhyme scheme and metre. Perhaps the language you are translating has more readily available rhymes, so you have to twist the poet’s words to fit the rhyme in the target language, or lose the rhyme and keep it literal. I have tried to keep the sense whilst maintaining the rhyme scheme and metre throughout, but I haven’t done a literal translation.

Respect to all translators out there, who silently and seamlessly take literature from one language and make it available to readers in another!

14 thoughts on “Tone Pavček – ‘Black cat’ translation #poetry

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  1. Great job and I always appreciate what you are up to and admire the challanges you take on. It’s really great to get some background which I appreciate. I would never write a thing if I had to follow such rules but I wish I could.. but I’d never get a thing done but I admire you. 👏👏👏
    oh the sweet black cat.. I know all about that and I finally tamed my feral from the street and now she sleeps with me in my arms and at my feet ( not really my feet but it Rhymes ..lol ❤️ Cindy

    1. Hi Cindy: thanks so much! Sorry for any delay commenting/replying to comments – it’s half term, both kids at home so I’m having to catch up with reading when I get the chance 😅😹😅

  2. Love black cat. We used to have a black cat, who ate all our gold fish in the fishbowl and had to be sent away to live in a farm. The farmer told us later that the cat is very happy there.

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