Where can I find English translations of Dada poems online?
January 1, 2010 1:21 PM   Subscribe

Where can I find English translations of Dada poems online?

The Digital Dada Library is a great resource, but I can't seem to find anywhere online with English translations. Any help appreciated.
posted by bradbane to Media & Arts (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Ubuweb can maybe help? It has a large amount of Dada material.
posted by idiopath at 1:28 PM on January 1, 2010

Dada Online; you can be assured it has at least one quality poem.
posted by lhude sing cuccu at 2:24 PM on January 1, 2010

Right here. This is Max Ernst's La femme 100 têtes, as translated from the French and reproduced in View magazine in (I think?) 1940. It's arguably more Surrealism than Dada, but of course that line is blurry.

The title is a quadruple pun with no straightforward translation in English. It means, simultaneously, "the hundred-headed woman", "the hundred-headless woman", "the hundred-breasted woman", and "the hundred-breastless woman".

Crime or miracle: a complete man. The immaculate conception that failed, failed and failed again. Then the landscape changes three times, one, two and three, and the sky takes its hat off twice, one and two. Therefore the semi-fecund lamb dilating at will his abdomen becomes a ewe and Loplop, the best bird, brings the mighty repast to the streetlamps in the basin of Paris. At the same time: the immaculate conception.

Extreme unction for extreme youth. The great St. Nicolas, followed by impeccable parasites, is led by his two lateral appendices. Remember: to disemboweled baby dove-cote is open, and when one sees a charming little insect with metallic hair, then the unconsciousness of the landscape becomes complete. Here in preparation the first touches of grace and games without issue. Bring the wash to a boil and increase the charm of transportation and the silence of bleeding wounds, and go on and on with the daytime games, twilight and nocturnal. Odor of dried flowers - or I want to be Queen of Sheba. Germinal, my sister, the 100-headless woman. In a cage in the background: God the father. New series of daytime games, twilight and nocturnal. Continuation! Continuation! During the day angelic caresses retire to secret regions near the poles. Continuation! Fiesta coiled in bracelets around branches - Prometheus - the 100-headless woman opens her august sleeves. (This monkey, could he by chance be Catholic?) The exorbitant recompense: Perturbation, my sister, the 100-headless woman.

Without a word and in any weather: magic light. Without a word and in any weather: obscure lessons. Sunday phantoms shriek. Dear granny! In cadence more than one passing notary lets his voice drop. Suddenly Loplop reappears with the mouse's horoscope. When the third mouse sits, the body of a legendary grown-up woman flies by. Then let me introduce you to my uncle whose beard we love to tickle on Sunday afternoons. We had hardly strangled the uncle when the marvelous young women flew away. Call it witchcraft or some macabre joke, when suddenly a wide cry of the great diameter stifles the fruits and meat in their coffins. We'll begin then with a little family-party, with physical culture or the death that you prefer. Have a rapid look at the hibernians of this island and catch the numb train (registration of baggage is worth title of nobility). Open your bag, my brave man, catch the yacht and see the rising sap. Loplop the swallow passes. Nourishing themselves on liquid dreams and quite resembling sleeping leaves, here are my seven sisters together. Loplop the swallow returns.

Loplop the best bird chases in terror the last vestiges of the communal devotion, the sphinx and the daily bread visit the convent and God the father, his beard furrowed with lightning, continues in a subway catastrophe.

Loplop meets the belle jardiniere.

Almost alone with the phantoms and ants: Germinal, my sister, the 100-headless woman. The moon is beautiful. And the volcanic women with a menacing air raise and agitate the backpart of their bodies.

Nothing can stop the passing smile which accompanies the crimes from one sex to the other, the unlimited meetings and robust effervescences in the supposedly poisoned wheel, and public discharges at any place (all places equal). And Loplop, the best bird, made himself fleshless flesh to live amongst us. His smile will be elegantly sober. His arm will be drunkness, his sting fire. His look will descend straight into the debris of the parched cities.

Living alone on her phantom-globe, beautiful garbed in her dreams, Perturbation, my sister, the 100-headless woman. Every bloody revolt will make her live endowed with grace and truth. Her smile, the fire, will fall like black jelly and white rust on the flanks of the mountain, and her phantom-globe will find us at every halting place.

Lighter than air, powerful and isolated: Perturbation, my sister, the 100-headless woman.
But the waves are bitter, the truth will remain simple and gigantic wheels will furrow the bitter waves. And the images will descend even to the ground. Every Friday the titans will travel over our laundries in a rapid flight with many hooks. And nothing will be more common than a titan in a restaurant. In the blindness of the wheelwrights we will find the germs of very precious visions. The blacksmiths, grey, black or volcanic, will turn in the air over the forges and forge crowns even larger as they rise higher.

More powerful than vulcans, light and isolated, Perturbation, my sister, the 100-headless woman. Perturbation, elevation, diminishment. Rumbling of drums in the stones, dilapidations, Aurora and a phantom excessively meticulous. Tranquility of ancient and future assassinations. Pieces of conviction. The departure for the miraculous fishing-voyage.
More isolated than the sea, always light and strong, Perturbation, my sister, the 100-headless woman.

Here is thirst, that resembles me, the miraculous fishing, clamors and love, the jubilant and gracious thunder, the master of the night, the sea of serenity, the elegant gesture of the drowned, serenity, the sea of jubilation.

The night howls in its hiding-place and approaches our eyes like wounded flesh.
A door opens itself backwards by the night of silence. A bodiless body places himself parallel to his body and shows us - like a phantomless phantom with particular saliva - the matrix for postage stamps. Two bodiless bodies place themselves parallel to their bodies, falling out of beds and curtains - like phantomless phantoms.

The 100-headless woman would smile in her sleep so that Loplop might smile at the phantoms.

Loplop, drunk with fright and fury, recovers his birdshead and remains immobile for 12 days at both sides of the door. Then the forest opens itself before an accomplished couple followed by a blind body.

To evoke the seventh age which succeeds the ninth birth, Germinal of the invisible eyes, the moon and Loplop trace ovals with their heads. At this moment the phantoms enter a period of voracity. Sometimes naked, sometimes clad in thin jets of fire, they make the geysers spout with the probability of bloodrain and with the vanity of the dead. To the glamour of their scales they prefer the dust of carpets, to the masturbation of fresh leaves, the pious lies. But they escape with fear as soon as the rumbling of drums is heard under the water. They pick up some dry crackers in the hollows of the giant's causeway. The giant's causeway is a pile of cradles.

Therefore the phantom remains who speculates with the vanity of death, the phantom of repopulation. All the doors are doors and the butterflies start to sing. After a slight hesitation, you will identify among these phantoms: Pasteur in his workroom, the monkey who is a future policeman, Catholic or stockbroker, Phantomas, Dante and Jules Verne, Cezanne and Rosa Bonheur, Mata Hari, St. Lazarus gloriously resuscitated from the dromedary's droppings.

Let it hereby be known, that since the memory of mankind the 100-headless woman has never had relations with the phantom of repopulation. She will never have. Rather would she macerate herself in morning dew and nourish herself with iced violets.

Let us thank Satanas and be happy for the sympathy he has shown us (bis).

Eyeless eye, the 100-headless woman keeps her secret (ter).

Eyeless eye, the 100-headless woman and Loplop go back to the savage stage and cover the eyes of their faithful birds with fresh leaves. God the almighty tries in vain to separate light from darkness.

Eyeless eye, the 100-headless woman keeps her secret.

She keeps her secret.

She keeps it.

Rome - Rome - Paris - marsh of dreams.

Ask the monkey: who is the 100-headless woman? In the church-fathers' manner he will answer you: It suffices me to look at her and I know who she is. It suffices for you to demand of me an explanation, and I no longer know.

Loplop the sympathetic annihilator and ancient best bird shoots some elderballs into some debris of the universe.


posted by ixohoxi at 3:20 PM on January 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

The title is a quadruple pun with no straightforward translation in English. It means, simultaneously, "the hundred-headed woman", "the hundred-headless woman", "the hundred-breasted woman", and "the hundred-breastless woman".

I don't believe this is so. "La Femme 100 têtes" can be heard as "la femme sans tête" ("the headless woman"), "la femme s'entête" (the woman is being stubborn"), "la femme sang tête" ("the woman blood head"), or "the woman one hundred heads". ("The hundred-headed woman" would be "la femme à 100 têtes".) The nearest I can get to "breast" from this material is "têton", meaning "nipple", but I can't imagine any francophone inferring "têton" from "tête".

I have seen this title translated as "The hundred headless woman" which is an attempt to bring out the essential polysemy of the original phrase.

I don't have time right now to plough through this very early translation, but will note that "Loplop l'oiseau supérieur" is normally rendered "Loplop the superior bird", rather than "the best bird" ( which would constructed with some variant of "meilleur"); he's also known as "le supérieur des oiseaux" ("the superior of the birds") in the sense of "the ranking member of a hierarchy".
posted by Wolof at 7:43 PM on January 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

And I have twice misspelled "téton" as "têton", for which I dock myself 2 pedant points.
posted by Wolof at 7:47 PM on January 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

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