Strange experience

Last night (past midnight) I helped a friend by translating a short poem (from Danish to English) for a third guy. I’ve done some translation work for these people before, but because this was a poem, the translation work was awkward, and I struggled to see if I could somehow make the translation rhyme without altering the meaning of the text.

The strange experience was not the translation, but the poem itself and its context:

The poem is meant for a funeral of the third guy’s “lady friend” (to use the form in which it was presented to me). In all probability this was a woman in her fifties or sixties. And now comes the strange part: The poem doesn’t focus on the deceased, it focuses on the survivors. It doesn’t express “Argh, my love is gone!” (like the one recited in the movie “Four Weddings and a Funeral”), rather it expresses “She’s gone, but life goes on“. I found this quite inappropriate… unsettling even. I couldn’t help the feeling that the other mourners at the funeral might even take offense at this message from the dead woman’s “gentleman friend”.

I made a quick search on Google and found only one match. The poem was used in its entirety at a site that dealt with somebody’s loss of their two month old child. Aha! Now the poem made a lot of sense. Of course this young family had to focus on moving on, on positive thoughts about the future of the family, on looking for reasons to smile even as they were saying goodbye to their child. They had to focus on not donning a dark cloak of mourning that would make it harder for them to move on.

But is this really appropriate for use at the funeral of a mature woman? I don’t think so.

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