A start at Syriacking “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall”   Leave a comment

Some time ago I wrote a post on the fun and value of translating (and composing) into foreign languages, and I also offered as an example my Syriac translation of a famous paragraph from Darwin. I decided recently that something from Bob Dylan’s huge catalog of lyrics would be worth a try, and so here is a start — and only that! — of the first verse of “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall” along with the chorus; the varied imagery of the song makes it a good choice for practice at the lexical selection of phrases and individual words. This attempt is really just the basic structure and vocabulary. I’d like, of course, if for no other than technical practice, to arrange it in a proper Syriac meter, which would naturally entail re-ordering the words and selecting certain synonyms for the words now chosen, but I’ve not yet decided which meter would best fit the song, nor even whether it should be a mēmrā or a madrāšā, though my leaning is toward the latter. I will gladly be corrected, but I have no illusions for now that the song would find any near counterparts in originally composed Syriac verse! Incidentally, on Syriac meter the following resources may be mentioned:

  • G. Cardahi (Al-Qardāḥī), Kitāb al-kanz al-ṯamīn fī ṣināʿat šiʿr al-suryān (Liber thesauri de arte poetica Syrorum; Rome, 1875) pp. 2-6
  • S.P. Brock and G.A. Kiraz, Ephrem the Syrian: Select Poems (Provo, 2006), pp. xiii-xvi
  • S.P. Brock’s article on Syriac poetry in the Oxford Handbook of Early Christian Studies, pp. 661-662, and his entry “Poetry” in the Gorgias Encyclopedic Dictionary of Syriac Heritage (GEDSH), which has further sources indicated

So then, without further ado, here’s my thus far unmetrical foray into Syriacking some Dylan: hard_rain_syriac. As always, comments are welcome.

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