NPM Day Twenty: Lost & Gained in Translation

Lost and Gained in Translation:
Take a short poem you’ve written. Open Google Translate. Copy and paste your poem into the translator. Turn it into French, or Urdu, or Javanese, and back again. What happened to it? What startles you? Copy out the phrases and combinations you like. Try it again. The final poem could be anything.

I sent my Science poem from yesterday through quite a number of translation transformations. At one point, science became elm, then alarm, then bell, and finally, depression. The mouse became a moth and a beetle and a butterfly and a bill. It began to sound so much like someone was telling my fortune that I kept the five phrases pretty much intact as I went.

Depression: The Bell
(Telling Your Fortune)

Be quiet like a moth walking on a fence.
The model is simple, but the money is hard,
Because of the large number of central bodies.
Look closely at all the evidence.
Purify your heart with reverence.

The original, for Reference:


Silent as a mouse creeping along a fence,
Simple the patterns, but intricate the sense,
Since what’s in the center is often intense,
Sift carefully through all the evidence,
Silt washes away, leaving behind reverence.

Gratitude List:
1. Trusting my instincts
2. Clear, fresh, sweet water
3. That titmouse calling out in the dawn, insisting on his place in the world
4. I’m mostly sleeping through the night again
5. Memory

May we walk in Beauty!

“Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.” —Louise Erdrich

“To light a candle is to cast a shadow…”
―Ursula K. Le Guin

“Everyone discusses my art and pretends to understand, as if it were necessary to understand, when it is simply necessary to love.” ―Claude Monet

“We realize the importance of our voices only when we are silenced.” ―Malala Yousafzai

I called through your door,
“The mystics are gathering in the street. Come out!”
“Leave me alone. I’m sick.”
“I don’t care if you’re dead! Jesus is here,
and he wants to resurrect somebody!”
―Jalaludin Rumi (trans. by Barks)

“Your hand opens and closes, opens and closes. If it were always a fist or always stretched open, you would be paralysed. Your deepest presence is in every small contracting and expanding, the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated as birds’ wings.”
―Jalaluddin Rumi (trans. by Barks)

“Something is always born of excess: great art was born of great terror, great loneliness, great inhibitions, instabilities, and it always balances them.”
―Anaïs Nin

“Everything has boundaries. The same holds true with thought. You shouldn’t fear boundaries, but you should not be afraid of destroying them. That’s what is most important if you want to be free: respect for and exasperation with boundaries.”
―Haruki Murakami

“All great spirituality is about what we do with our pain. If we do not transform our pain, we will transmit it to those around us.” —Richard Rohr

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