banner












  • Subscribe to our e-letters



  • Facebook_icon


The Times Stephen Spender Prize 2013
18-and-under, commended

Read the judges’ comments
Email to request a free hard copy of the booklet (UK addresses only)
Read the winning entries from previous years


Daina Auzins

While I Loved You


While I loved you
           You were at the dentist
While I loved you
           You went to the shops
While I loved you
           You lost weight
While I loved you
           You became a vegetarian
While I loved you
           You drove to the beach
While I loved you
           You counted your freckles in the mirror
While I loved you
           You filed your nails
While I loved you
           You were fortune-telling
While I loved you
           You fought for women's rights
While I loved you
           You had a really bad cold and you definitely had to stay at home otherwise you would have been even more sick and anyway when taking penicillin a person becomes so weak and just wants to sleep and sleep or at best read a formerly popular novel which could be bought cheaply in the sales last spring
While I loved you
           You complained about the hot weather
While I loved you
           You played only Beatles records
While I loved you
           You painted your lips red and your nails purple
While I loved you
           You were twice drunk

While I loved you
You loved yourself
And so we parted –
           Never having met.

Translated from the Latvian by Daina Auzins
top


Kāmēr es tevi mīlēju


kamēr es tevi mīlēju
           tu biji pie zobārsta
kamēr es tevi mīlēju
           Tu gāji uz veikalu
kamēr es tevi mīlēju
           Tu nokrities svarā
kamēr es tevi mīlēju
           Tu kļuvi par veģetārieti
kamēr es tevi mīlēju
           Tu brauci uz jūrmalu
kamēr es tevi mīlēju
           Tu pie spoguļa skaitiji savus vasaras raibumus
kamēr es tevi mīlēju
           Tu nagus vīlēji
kamēr es tevi mīlēju
           Tu nākotni zīlēji
kamēr es tevi mīlēju
           Tu cīnījies par sieviešu tiesībām
kamēr es tevi mīlēju
           Tu tiešām biji ļoti saaukstējusies un tev
           noteikti bija jāpaliek mājās jo citādi tu
           būtu saslimusi vēl vairāk un bez tam peni-
           cilīnu lietojot cilvēks taču kļūst tik vārgs
           un gribas tikai gulēt un gulēt vai labākā
           gadījumā palasīt kādu agrāk populāru romānu
           kuru varēja nopirkt par lētu naudu izpārd-
           došanā pagājušā pavasarī
kamēr es tevi mīlēju
           tu sūdzējies par karsto laiku
kamēr es tevi mīlēju
           tu tikai spēlēji Bīteļu plates
kamēr es tevi mīlēju
           tu krāsoji lūpas rozā un nagus lillā
kamēr es tevi mīlēju
           tu divas reizes biji pillā
kamēr es mīlēju tevi
tu mīlēji sevi
un tā mēs šķirāmies –
           neiepazinušies

Juris Kronbergs

Reproduced by kind permission of the poet
top


Translation commentary


I decided to translate this poem because I found it humorous in Latvian and since I had never read a Latvian poem before I thought I could have a go at translating it and putting my skills to the test. Problems with translating from Latvian to English are that Latvian does not use articles and it has a case system, complicating endings of nouns and adjectives. In translating this poem, I found that I had to alter some phrases so they kept with the original tone and I had to use some synonyms.

In my approach to the poem, I began by translating the poem word for word and I found that this worked and that the language was not too complicated after all. There was a little rhyme but I thought that that would interrupt the flow of the poem if I tried to make it rhyme in English; the rest of the poem is in free verse, however, so I did not have other problems of rhyme or form.

Daina Auzins