‘Ann an lock, ann an adhar’ [4th-translation series #1]

‘Ann an lock, ann an adhar’
[4th translation series #1]

The monster in the lake only wants to be in the lake.
The monster in the sky over the ridge wants only to fly.

There is nothing to be gained in gathering the net
Or by pulling the kite string. They are already yours.


An oily beast. Strand to lock. Radiant and remaining.
A drum beneath the water. No, it is the drumming in our ears

As the plane lands. The sky naga takes us on its back
And brings us slowly to earth and we wake in separate beds.


Want a monster in Loch Lake.
Ridge monster is flying all over the sky,

Is contained in the web
Or pulling off the line. They already know.


Note: This poem is meant to be read in three parts, but in reality it has five sections.
The first is a four-line poem I wrote in English (the first translation, from the mind to English).
I ran that poem through Google Translate into Scots-Gaelic; and then that translation was put through Google Translate yet again (the third translation) into Mongolian. I chose these languages because the poem is about monsters, and the first monster I thought of was the Loch Ness monster, the next was the naga, the mythical elementals of Tibetan lore which could be sea serpent, sky dragon, etc.
From the look and the sound of those translations I wrote the second section of the poem.
The fourth translation is from the Mongolian back into English, again through Google Translate, and presented without editing of any kind, in its raw state.
The title comes from parts of the Scots-Gaelic lines, and translates roughly as “In the lake, in the sky.”
I plan to write a series of poems using this technique, and will share them as they occur.


11 thoughts on “‘Ann an lock, ann an adhar’ [4th-translation series #1]

  1. robert okaji

    I love the poem and the technique, Jeff. It takes an especially warped mind to conceive such a thing. And I mean that as the highest compliment! The change (degradation?) from start to finish is exhilirating. Much to ponder there.

    1. Jeff Schwaner Post author

      Thanks, Bob! It is indeed warped–hoping also to add a weave to the warp with that echo of the fourth translation. Really glad you get it! But maybe that says more about you than me…

  2. zdunno03

    The end usually justifies the means but here the means is an end itself so what you are embarking on are two very distinct ends which has, in this comment, only complicated it. So let me simplify by saying the poem and how you arrived at it are truly stunning.


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