Kaj je največje?/What is the biggest? #poetry #translation

Največje je nebo,
zato ker vanj lahko
spraviš sanje.

Največje je drevo,
zato ker v njem lahko
gnezdijo ptice.

Največje je morje,
zato ker se na njem
širi obzorje.

Največje je beseda,
zato ker z njo lahko
preden greš spat
poveš: Svet, imam te rad!

The biggest is the sky,
for up there way on high
we store our dreams

The biggest is a tree,
for there the birds so free
nest well, it seems

The biggest is the sea,
for beyond this we see
horizon’s gleams

The biggest is the word,
for with the word I tell you
before I sleep:
Dear World, how much I love you!

This was a challenge!

I found this poem carved into a wooden plaque tied to a tree whilst climbing up Slavnik, close to where I found the poem ‘Gozd.’ It was impossible to keep the rhyme scheme, metre and meaning all intact, so I changed the rhyme scheme slightly: I had to do this, because the words ‘sky,’ ‘tree,’ and ‘word’ don’t rhyme in English! I never realised it, but English is much harder to rhyme than many languages. Still, it was an interesting exercise. It isn’t a literal translation either, but pretty close (check Google translate if you don’t believe me 🤣.)

The poem is by Vinko Möderndorfer, a contemporary Slovene poet. I love that poetry is revered in Slovene culture. I believe it used to be the same in English…

This seems an appropriate poem to share with earthweal. The featured image shows the big sky above Slavnik.

Kaj je največje
The poem as I found it

44 thoughts on “Kaj je največje?/What is the biggest? #poetry #translation

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  1. Wow–Ingrid! I imagine it must be difficult to translate any poetry. So I’m very impressed! Lovely sentiment–and photos.
    I wasn’t sure how fluent you are in Slovenian, since you mentioned there were no theaters with English performances.
    (Should it be “there” in the second stanza?)

    1. Thanks Merril! I actually find it quite fun, like a crossword puzzle type exercise! And yes, it should be ‘there’ thanks for spotting that 🤦🏽‍♀️

      1. You’re welcome. I can see where it is sort of like doing a puzzle. I feel that way sometimes with my test writing assignments. 😀 But well done!
        I hope you didn’t mind that I put that in the comments. It was such a minor thing.

  2. Well done with translation Ingrid … and what a wonderful piece… I’m going store the poem in my ‘poem library collection’ …. as coincident happens .. I’m post a “World” later on tonight … and here is a sneak world premier for you .

    “The World Could Be Falling Downhill”

    I was walking in yesterday’s deluge
    up a steep moldy hillside
    Talking to my fading shadow
    That was stalking deep puddles
    While I was balking today’s thunderbolts

    My knees were knocking in fright
    and my hips were like, a rocking Noah’s Ark
    hawking leftover manure in the dark

    Nature’s mocking the world full of old lonely hearts
    And knocking this year’s already drowning restart

    1. Thank you for the sneak preview! 🤩
      ‘and my hips were like, a rocking Noah’s Ark
      hawking leftover manure in the dark’
      – what a wonderful image!

  3. Thanks for the translation Ingrid. I am very impressed. Learning any foreign language is difficult, but this, like the poem itself, is on a different level. 👍🙂

  4. This translation seems a challenge – no one more perfect for the task than you. A fitting share with Earthweal. The Slovene language looks beautiful. Thank you for broadening our world! 🌎🌍🌏

  5. I love all this – beautiful poem – beautiful translation – beautiful story and phot. perhaps we should all tie poems to trees sometimes. (gently and careful in rope that will rot before the tree outgrows it)

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