The Ruin

Wrought well is the wall rock, now wrinkled and fallen to fate;

master’s pieces moulder.

Roofs are scrambled on floors, towers have tumbled,

antique frost clings to gaping gates and mortar joints.

Mutilated buildings are torn open, collapsed,

undereaten by antiquity.

The master artists, dead, departed,

have turned to clay in Nature’s hand—

Earth’s grip crafts the crafters.

A hundred generations have since walked

on their graves.

Lichen-grayed and red-stained,

the walls stood strong through

kingdom after kingdom,

storm after storm that collapsed the steep-spread heavens

to wage wars of wind and weather on the rock walls.

            Feel

                        the grim-ground

                     shine

                        of skilled, ancient craft—

(mudcrusted)—

a ring.

The zealous spirits that wove ingenious rings of mail

for resolute warrior bodies also wrought wires

around warrior walls that waged against nature.

The unbroken city must have been resplendent—

brilliant buildings, bathing halls, and steep-reaching gables

were all ears

to the mighty army’s trumpeting revelry

brimming from mead halls.

But fate spares none.

Encompassed with carnage, dealt disease,

the warrior city’s brave men met death.

The city became a battle ground,

then was empty,

then decayed.

Even the restorers perished; the city grew desolate.

Vaulted ceilings shed their red curved tiles,

shattered ruins lay on the ground,

heaps of stone piled in the places where

warriors of old—

filled with joy,

adorned in glittering war-trappings,

flushed with wine—

mirrored their treasure,

their silver,

their gems,

their jewelry

that surrounded them.

They were wealth—

a kingdom of glittering riches that glinted

across lands, onto oceans.

Oceans fed rivers.

Rivers streamed into walls, spewing steam in billows

upon glistening chests, breasts.

The streams heated bodies. Passion streams.

Opportunity was convenient – just go

with

the

flow.

Where men and women turned immobile,

the stream still steamed

hot and easy.

Then ice –

(To Un-craft

            that heat-pulsed ring pool

                        where the baths were!)

Then again—

that

is a fitting thing.

(Every) house. (The) city.


Some notes on this translation:

1.      Repetition of rings and war connotations were so apparent to me in the text that I tried to highlight and emphasize them in relation to the city, its inhabitants, and the baths.

2.      Instead of the connotation of the “city’s bosom” where the baths were located, I used “bosme” to mean a human chest/breast.

3.      I switched the order of fragments in the last eight lines – a fragmented “re,” which I use to mean “then again” actually precedes “is,” which I interpreted as “ice.”

4.      No translation that I ran across interpreted “is” as “ice,” but since the fragment is “is,” I decided to capitalize on the dichotomy of hot and cold, the irony of the city and its baths freezing over.

5.      Instead of translating the fragment “un” as “until,” I interpreted it as an “undoing” of something, a reverse.

6.      I switch from present to past tense in certain instances (i.e. "Feel the grim-ground…") to illuminate the observer/ponderer's connection in the present to the past.

7.      I’m including this list just in case there are any simple questions about translation choices that I have straightforward reasons for.