The Piping for the Flocks / The Wanderer: A Poem
You tarried among the sheepfolds,
to hear the piping for the flocks.
You waited upon your sailing ships,
to watch the waves creep up the docks.
Without a fight your kingdom fell
like wind in the meadows.
Your days went down in the west
behind the hills in shadows.
Fallen are your horse and rider,
ring out the horn still-blowing.
The hand upon your harp is still
above the fire still-glowing.
Late the spring and harvest sky
above the corn still-growing.
Alas for you, alas!
When you built your fortress,
did you think about the cost?
You did not stop to wonder
and did not wait to watch
while your heart burst asunder,
while everything was lost.
“The Piping for the Flocks / The Wanderer” definitely calls for a little bit of explanation. First of all, it’s my entry into the Experiments in Fiction Translation Challenge, run by the fabulous Ingrid of Experiments in Fiction. Thank you for this wonderful challenge, Ingrid!
The challenge called for a translation of a poem from a language other than English into English. I kicked around doing a translation of Pablo Neruda before settling on this, a much broader interpretation of the prompt, after watching The Two Towers and hearing “Lament for the Rohirrim.” The tone reminded me a bit of “The Piping for the Flocks,” a passage from the Book of Deborah in the Bible. I’d previously written a poem and reflection called “The Piping for the Flocks” that I wanted to use again in a “mash-up.”
In writing “Lament for the Rohirrim,” Tolkien drew on an Old English poem, “The Wanderer.” So I’ve drawn on two languages I can’t translate for this exercise in “translation,” using the translations of others and creating an amalgamation. The passage in the Book of Deborah was originally written in Hebrew.
It took me a while to get the flow of this poem right, but I hope that you enjoy the results! If you’re loving my work, I’d really appreciate if you left me a tip on Ko-fi so I can keep creating as much as possible for you. Thank you, as always, for reading!
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