Adam’s Notebook
Published in

Adam’s Notebook

Yeats’s ‘Leda and the Swan’ Google-Translated into Malay Then Translated Back into English

Thomas Sturge Moore, ‘Leda and the Swan’ (1914):V&A

Quick shot: the majority wings still shaking
On top of the swaying girl, her thighs caressed
As a dark nest, her neck stuck in its beak,
She held her helpless breasts uppermost upon her

How that frightened faint finger could push
The hairy glory of her sloppy thighs?
And how could corpse, bedded in such white rush,
Feel a strange heart beating where it is located?

There started trembling in the waist
Walls broke, roofs burned and towers
And Agamemnon died
Because of being trapped
So moved by the cruel blood in the air,
Did he put his knowledge into his power
Before the cold mouth can let them fall?

— —

The original poem is here. Malay was chosen at random. For comparison here is the same poem Google-translated into Welsh and then Google-translated back into English:

Sudden blow: the big wings are still beating
Above the stunned girl, her hips were aching
At the dark webs, he held his neck in his beak,
He holds her almost helplessly.

How those scared vague fingers can push
The feathery glory of her licking thighs?
And how can a body, set in that white rush,
Feel only the strange heart beating where it lies?

A tremor in the bushes is sparking there
The broken wall, the burning roof and the tower
And Agamemnon is dead.
Get caught up so much,
So mastered by the cruel blood of the air,
Was she wielding his intellect with his ability
Before the apathy spike let it drop?


Not nearly so good, we can agree.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store