This is a follow-up to the last post, in which I “composed” three poems in some nefarious way.
All of these poems were “written” with the help of Google Translate. I simply took the source material in English, cut-and-pasted into Google Translate and then cycled through 3 others languages before returning to English. The result is just the original poem in English again, but twisted linguistically.
To illustrate the process, let’s take a single sentence from Poe’s “Conqueror Worm”:
And the angels, all haggard and wan,
Uprising, unveiling, affirm
That the play is the tragedy “Man,”
Its hero the Conqueror Worm.
Let’s go to German:
Und die Engel, die alle hager und blass,
Aufstand, Enthüllung, bekräftigen
Dass das Spiel der Tragödie ist “Mensch”
Sein Held, der Eroberer Wurm.
And now to Turkish:
Ve melekler, tüm bitkin ve solgun,
Ayaklanma, meydana çıkarma, teyit
Oyun trajedi “Adam” olduğunu
Onun kahraman, Fatih Worm.
And then to Greek:
Και οι άγγελοι , όλοι εξαντληθεί και χλωμό ,
Εξέγερση , αποκαλυπτήρια , επιβεβαίωσε
Τραγωδία παιχνίδι ” Man” είναι
Ήρωά του , Πορθητή Worm.
Finally we get back to English:
And the angels, all exhausted and pale,
Uprising, unveiling confirmed
Tragedy “Man” game is
Hero, Conqueror Worm.
This particular stanza is not much worse for the wear. The only editorial choices I made were what languages to phase into, along with a bit of cleaning-up of the punctuation. The process is much like the “telephone game” (“Chinese whispers” in other countries) where a phrase gets distorted gradually, like a Philip Glass melody, until it no longer resembles the original in any way.
I’d be interested to see other people’s attempts at Google Translate poetry.