Like a Dog on the Slow Train
Poetry of the Babelfish
Pick a piece of poem, or song, or a scrap of prose. Call up babelfish.altavista.com. Run the poem from English to one of the other languages, then run the translation back to English.
Pinkle Purr, A.A. Milne
My very first Babelfish. One translation changed Pinkle Purr (the name of a cat) to the Drone of Pinkle.
Tattoo was the mother of Pinkle Purr
A little black nothing of feet and fur
And by and by, when his eyes came through
He saw his mother, the big Tattoo
And all that he learned, he learned from her.
"I'll ask my mother," says Pinkle Purr.
Tattoo was the array of purr of Pinkle
A little black nothing of the feet and the skin.
And close and close, when its eyes had come full,
It saw its array, tattoo great.
And everything that learned, learned dela.
"I will ask my array," says purr of Pinkle.
The Star-Spangled Banner
And the red gleam of the rockets, the breakdowns bursting in air,
provided evidence by the night that our indicator was always there.
Oh, for example, does this flag star-decorated with spangles still undulate
above the ground free and the house of the courageous one!
The Highwayman, Alfred Noyes
It is French Babelfish that changes "highway" to "slow train."
Back he spurred like a madman, shrieking a curse to the sky
With the white road smoking behind him and his rapier brandished high!
Blood-red were his spurs in the golden noon
Wine-red was his velvet coat
When they shot him down on the highway
Down like a dog on the highway
And he lay in his blood on the highway
With a bunch of lace at his throat
Back, it stimulated like insane, pushing piercing cries a curse with the sky,
With the white road smoking behind him and its rapier brandished high!
Blood-reds were its teeth in the gold midday
Wine-red was its velvet coat
When they drew it avalent on the slow train
Downwards like a dog on the slow train
And it extend in its blood on the slow train
With a group of lace to its throat
Gunga Din, Rudyard Kipling
I took out the dialect in the English to give the translator a fighting chance.
I shan't forget the night when I dropped behind the fight
With a bullet where my belt-plate should have been.
I was choking mad with thirst, and the man who saw me first
was our good old grinning, grunting Gunga Din.
He lifted up my head and he plugged me where I bled,
and he gave me half a pint of water green.
It was crawling and it stunk but of all the drinks I've drunk,
I'm most grateful for one from Gunga Din.
I will not forget the night when I slackened behind the combat
with a ball where my girdle-dish should have been.
I was insane obstruction with thirst, and the man who noticed me the first time
was our good old man grimacer grognant the din of Gunga.
He raised to the top my head, and he connected me where I bled,
and he gave me half per pint of green of water;
It crawled and it been able, but all the drinks which I drank,
I am most grateful for one of the din of Gunga.
To An Athlete Dying Young, A.E. Housman
The time you won your town the race
We chaired you through the marketplace
Man and boy stood cheering by,
And home we brought you shoulder-high.
Today, the road all runners come,
Shoulder-high we bring you home,
And set you at your threshold down,
Townsman of a stiller town.
Time you gained your city the mass storage subsystem
that we chaired you by the market;
Man and held boy encouraging close,
and house we brought shoulder-high to you.
Today, the road all the runners come,
Shoulder-high we bring the house to you,
and let us deposit you with your threshold,
Townsman of a more motionless city.
The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, T.S. Eliot
I grow old . . . I grow old . . . I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.
Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
Me old development. Me old development. I will carry the inferior parts of my rolled pants.
Leave my hats behind? I dare to eat a peach?
I will carry the pants white men of the flannel and the walk on the beach.
I grow old. I grow old. I will consume deep of mine trousers rolled.
Must I have broken my hair behind? I dare to eat a peach?
I will consume trousers white of flannel, and the walked one in top of the beach.
The Owl and the Pussycat, Edward Lear
I used a different language for each verse.
The owl and the pussy-cat went to sea in a beautiful pea-green boat
They brought some honey and plenty of money wrapped up in a five-pound note
The owl looked up at the stars above and sang to a small guitar
"Oh, lovely pussy! Oh, pussy my love, what a beautiful pussy you are, you are, you are!
What a beautiful pussy you are!"
Puss said to the owl, "You elegant fowl, how charmingly sweet you sing.
Oh, let us be married, too long have we tarried. But what shall we do for a ring?"
So they sailed away for a year and a day to the land where the Bong-tree grows
And there in the wood a Piggy-Wig stood with a ring at the end of his nose, his nose, his nose,
With a ring at the end of his nose.
"Dear Pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling your ring?"
Said the piggy, "I will."
So they took it away and were married next day by the turkey who lives on the hill.
They dined on mince and slices of quince which they ate with a runcible spoon.
Then hand in hand on the edge of the sand, they danced by the light of the moon, the moon, the moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.
The owl and the good-looking one had been to the sea in a boat pretty pea-green.
They had made examination of some honey and the abundance of the money involved above in a pound-note five.
The owl which became geschauen above up to the asterisks and sang to a small guitarre,
"Attractive Pussy O! O-Pussy, my love, which beautiful Pussy you are, are you, you are!
Which for beautiful Pussy is you!"
The kitten said to buho, "You them elegant birds, how charmingly the candy you sing.
Or it let to us be married, has too much to us of length tarried,
but what we will do for a ring?"
They have been annoying via for a year and a day
to the earth in which the tree of Bong it is developed
And here in the wood a piggy-wig is rise in feet, with a ring to the extremity of its nose, its nose, its nose,
With a ring to the extremity of its nose.
"Expensive Pig, is you that you want, to sell for one shilling your ring?"
He has said the piggy, "Me will."
Therefore they have eliminated it and they been married the following day, from the Turkey that lives in the mount.
They had supper ignition prick and the slices of the quince that ate with a runcible spoon.
And jointly, on the edge of the sand, they have danced from the moonlight, the moon, the moon!
They have danced from the moonlight.
Funeral Blues, W.H. Auden
Babelfish often has trouble with the imperative form.
Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.
Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead.
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.
It stops all the detonation pulses, cut except the telephone
Hinders that the dog barking with a succulent bone
Silences the pianos and with cylinder muffled
Brings for is of the coffin, leaves mourners to come.
The message leaves airplanes to surround moaning aerial
Scribbling in the sky that is inoperative.
It puts crepe curves in rollback of the white throats of the public doves
Leaves the traffic policies to consume black gloves of the cotton.
Born to Run, Bruce Springsteen
One might argue that certain original lyrics are as ludicrous as the translations. Maybe, but good for a laugh.
Baby, this town rips the bones from your back
It's a death trap, it's a suicide rap
We've got to get out while we're young
Tramps like us, baby we were born to run
The child, this city tears boneses from your posterior part
It is taking of dead women, it is a dry blow of suicide
We have got to exit while we are young
The wanderers appreciate them, child, we have been sopportati to work.
Open All Night, Bruce Springsteen
I had the carburetor, baby, cleaned and checked
With her lines blown out she's humming like a turbojet
Propped her up in the back yard on some concrete blocks
For a new clutch plate and a new set of shocks
Took her down to the car wash, checked the plugs and points
I'm going out tonight, I'm going to rock this joint.
I had the carburetor, baby, cleaned and verified
With it the casting strings are humming as a turbojet
I supported it above in the back yard in some concrete tablets
For a board of new clutch and a new game of the shocks
I made examination of it I bring to the carriage laundering, verified the plugs and the points.
I am leaving today to the night, I am going to balance this junction.
That last line came out well in several other languages:
--I leave this evening, I will rock this joint.
--I am exiting this evening, I am going to oscillate this joint.
--I go out this evening, I become this connection swings.
Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner, Warren Zevon
In sixty-six and -seven, they fought the Congo war
With their fingers on their triggers, knee-deep in gore
For days and nights they battled the Bantu to their knees
They killed to earn a living, and to help out the Congolese.
His comrades fought beside him, Van Owen and the rest,
But of all the Thompson gunners, Roland was the best
So the CIA decided they wanted Roland dead
That son-of-a-bitch Van Owen blew off Roland's head.
In the sixty-six and seven they fought the war of Congo
With their fingers on their releases, knee-deep in the spindle
For days and nights they fought Bantou with their knees
They destroyed to gain a life, and
to repair Congolese.
His/her comrades fought close to him, Van Owen* and the rest
But of all the gunners of Thompson, Roland was the best
Thus the C.I.A decided that they wanted deaths of Roland
This wire-of-a-bitch Van Owen removed with the compressed air the head of Roland.
*"Pickup-Truck Owen," one translation called him. Patty Hearst, mentioned later in the song, became "small Hearst pie."
Hard Day's Night, the Beatles
It's been a hard day's night and I've been working like a dog
It's been a hard day's night, I should be sleeping like a log
But when I get home to you, I find the things that you do
They make me feel all right.
It has been night of the hard day and I am working like a dog.
It has been night of the hard day that I would have to sleep like a book machine.
But when I obtain domestic servant to you to find the things to it that you want
They urge it to think all of right.