7th APRIL 2015 - Vol.XXXVIII No.018
Local News

A classic..!

THE famous work of an English poet has been translated into Arabic in the interest of students of literature in the Arab world and those specialising in translation.

The poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge has been translated from English into Arabic by Bahrain Institute of Banking and Finance academic and executive centre head Dr Mohammed Alkhozai.

Dr Alkhozai's interest in English literature steered him to study at Cairo University and later at Leeds University and the School of African and Oriental Studies in the UK.

He developed a fascination with the poem during his days as a student and started thinking about an Arabic translation of the work four years ago.

"The Rime of the Ancient Mariner is one of the many great poems in English," said Dr Alkhozai.

"With this poem, Coleridge paved the way for the naissance of the romantic movement in English poetry.

"This poem fascinated me and was at the back of my mind since I was a student. Some four years ago, I started contemplating rendering it into Arabic and now finally I managed it."

His interest is not defined to The Rime of the Ancient Mariner or the poet Coleridge, but this particular piece of prose left a resounding impression.

"My interest in Coleridge stemmed from my love for English poetry," said Dr Alkhozai.

"The Rime of the Ancient Mariner was one of the great poems that I loved.

"Coleridge was not the only poet, there are definitely others, but this poem left its impact on me for its philosophical, religious and aesthetic connotations.

"A reader who appreciates the work shall realise these elements."

The poem is set out in parallel texts so that readers can compare the original English verse to its Arabic equivalent, making the publication apt for comparative study, said Dr Alkhozai.

"Students should be in a position to compare my translation with other versions," added the interpreter.

"I would say I tend to use simple language like the original.

"The romantic poets advocated the use of everyday simple language and speak a spontaneous and unaffected language that expresses true feelings."

Dr Alkhozai spent a few weeks translating each line into Arabic and did not make any changes to his original interpretations.

"When I was through with it I decided not to revise or edit it again," he said.

"If I had done, there would have bound to have been several versions.

"There may be some flaws here and there or perhaps some better expressions, however, these are left to critics and discerning readers to trace. At the end of the day, nobody can claim perfection; there may be some renditions better than others."

During his experience, he has found that translating from Arabic into English is the hardest task.

However, some technical English texts are not that easy to translate into Arabic due to use of highly specialised terms that may require a specialist of the field, said Dr Alkhozai.

His version of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner is not a free translation or an adaptation of the poem, but a full version, he said.

"I would say an honest version but not literal or verbatim," said Dr Alkhozai.

"Some may consider it not a versified translation and the reason for this is that I am not a poet.

"I wish I were, however, had I been one, the outcome may not have been what Coleridge intended."

Dr Alkhozai would like to see and hear what the readers think of this work, as translation is no easy feat, with the presence of two major difficulties.

"Firstly, new words or uncommon idiomatic usage, here we resort to the aid of a dictionary," he said.

"Second is when you come across a word or meaning that you are already familiar with but your memory fails you. This could be very tormenting and you have to rush to a reference for help.

"Even interpreters with mechanical memory are bound to face some problems of some kind.

"Arabic sometimes is very evasive due to the obscure style of some writers who are fond of what I would term as paragraphic - long sentences making one whole paragraph.

"Here the translator is at pains to render the meaning that the writer intended."

Next on Dr Alkhozai's extensive list of works to be translated includes the complete version of Legend and Parallel History by Culture Minister Shaikha Mai bint Mohammed Al Khalifa, which is a study of history of Bahrain and the area in the 19th century.

Another is an anthology of Arabic poetry entitled Letters to Ishtar sent by a number of contemporary Arab poets to the mythical Babylonian goddess of fertility, love and war Ishtar.

The book will be launched at a book signing, which will be confirmed at a later date.

Those interested in purchasing the book can contact Dr Alkhozai by e-mail on [email protected] [email protected]

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