Lisa’s Literal Translations #2 – Emily Dickinson #294


What a Literal Translation is: A word-f0r-word translation that swaps words out with literal synonyms

Why a Literal Translation: They help dissect hard-to-understand poems. Most of the time.

Emily Dickinson’s poem #294, the Original:

The Doomed – regard the Sunrise
With different Delight –
Because – when next it burns abroad
They doubt to witness it –

The Man – to die – tomorrow –
Harks for the Meadow Bird –
Because its Music stirs the Axe
That clamors for his head –

Joyful – to whom the Sunrise
Precedes Enamored – Day
Joyful – for whom the Meadow Bird
Has ought but Elegy!


Lisa’s Literal Translation:

The Condemned – look at the Emerging of the Sun
With altering Happiness –
Because – the time soonest again it fires far away
They question to see it –

The Male Person – to expire – the day after today –
Listens for the Field Small Winged And Beaked Animal –
For The Reason That its Song moves the Bladed Hammer
That calls for his uppermost appendage –

Ecstatic – to whom the Lifting of the Sun
Comes Before Love-Smacked – AM
Ecstatic – for whom the Field Small Winged And Beaked Animal
Holds nothing but Lament for the Dead!


This poem implies that even someone on death row might be looking forward to the new day (their death day). I’m guessing because death means freedom. I chose a Dickinson poem at random, because I just love her, even if her poems are a bit hard to understand sometimes.

If you have a poem you’d like to see me translate literally, just let me know!

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