Had a lot of fun today putting the first verse of Keats’ “Ode to a Nightingale” through an online translation facility. Translating into Swahili and back wasn’t amusing enough for me, so I then ran subsequent English versions through Icelandic, Filipino, Welsh, Arabic, Afrikaans and traditional Chinese.

Here’s the original…

“My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains
My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,
Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains
One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk:
‘Tis not through envy of thy happy lot,
But being too happy in thy happiness,
That thou, light-winged Dryad of the trees,
In some melodious plot
Of beechen green, and shadows numberless,
Singest of summer in full-throated ease.”

And here’s the end result, having been translated consecutively into seven languages and back again. Actually, I’m pretty impressed – it captures the gist to a certain extent, though I daresay Keats would have wanted to tweak it a tad. Anyway, well done, http://translation.imtranslator.net/translate/default.asp, for a sterling attempt.

“Pain in my heart, pain and numbness sleeping

my heart, I drank hemlock,

or reduce the number of poor color hypnosis

one-minute things – ward immersion:

This is not a lot of fun does not envy,

but happy for your happiness,

you, fairy wings and light the trees in some sweet plot

Beecher shades of green, less

[# singer summer], to reduce the diver completed.”

I wonder if the “This is not a lot of fun” line is the website’s plea to me to stop making it translate ludicrously old-fashioned English multiple times in order to get a cheap laugh; and go and do some work.

Pic credit: Tom Curtis, http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=178

(Yes, I know it’s not a nightingale, but I couldn’t find one. I’ll link to anyone who can correctly identify the chap in the picture. )