Translating the poem "Fog"

PTSD is a common condition for someone who saw people die and knows what it feels like to kill, to be hunted, to fight for survival. Max is no exception. As a composite personality, he had died exactly nine times to become whole. Poor Edna was unlucky enough to hit one of his triggers… This is the poem Max shared with her, not quite voluntarily, though, (he recited it while having severe pneumonia and being delirious with fever) but the regret here is genuine.

The original Russian text:


Прости. Был груб. Но ты задела рану,
Когда спросила на исходе дня:
«Тебя бьет дрожь. Боишься ты тумана?»
Да. Он иное значит для меня.

Я плохо помню дни тех самых странствий,
Когда терял товарищей в бою.
Туман скрывал огромное пространство,
Туман и душу ослепил мою.

Чужая смерть стучала в сердце глухо,
Слезою боли было не унять.
И в том тумане жуткая старуха
Искала острым лезвием меня...

И находила... сколько раз я умер...
Тогда я эти смерти не считал.
Я стал един в своей печальной сумме
Из девяти разрозненных начал.

Туман... он ко всему был равнодушен.
Я заболел туманом навсегда,
И он порой окутывает душу –
Я страшен и безжалостен тогда.

«Прости...» Я говорю так слишком часто.
Ты скоро верить перестанешь мне.
Напоминанье о моем несчастье –
Туманной дымки пелена в окне.

My rough translation


Forgive me. I was rude. But you disturbed an (old) wound
When you asked me at the end of the day,
“You’re trembling. Does the fog scare you?”
Yes. It has a different meaning for me.

I barely remember the days of that journey
Where I lost my comrades in battle, one by one.
The fog was hiding a huge space,
The fog blinded my soul.

Each death echoed in my heart as a thud,
Tears didn’t mute the pain.
In the fog, the creepy old hag (death)
Searched for me with her blade.

Searched and found… many times…
I didn’t count my deaths then.
I became one, a sad sum
Of nine individual beginnings.

The fog… the fog was indifferent to all that.
I got ill with that fog forever.
Sometimes, it engulfs my soul,
I’m cruel and merciless then.

“Forgive me…” I say this too often.
You will cease to trust me soon.
Reminding me of my burden,
Is the veil of fog behind the window.

Alan Jackson's translation:


Forgive me; I was rude. But you touched a wound,
Touched an old wound, this evening;
“You’re shaking!” you asked, “Do you fear the fog?”
Yes – but not with that meaning.

I hardly remember those days, that quest,
That in friends’ lives exacted toll
The fog – it hid such a boundless space
The fog – it blinded my soul.

Each death: a blow shuddering my heart,
A pain tears could not allay;
The fog – the lair of that gaunt hag, Death,
Whose scythe sought me each day.

Sought, found, sought, found – so many times…
Past caring, so many deaths,
I became the one sad totalled end
Of nine distinct first breaths.

The fog – it cared for none of these things
The fog – it marred me past healing
The fog – now and then it engulfs my soul
Makes me cruel, heartless, unfeeling –

“Forgive me…” Too often I say those words –
You’ll cease soon to trust, to care…
Yes – the fog out there shakes me, soul and heart,
For I fear the fog I bear.

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About the project:
My scifi and fantasy novels have a lot of poems in them that can not be removed without destroying the plot. Alas, my English in not good enough for translating poetry. Alan Jackson helps me translate the poems. It makes the translation of my novels possible.