Leaves of Grass

A child said, What is the grass? fetching it to me with full
How could I answer the child? I do not know what it is

any more than he.

I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out of hopeful
green stuff woven.

Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord,
A scented gift and remembrancer designedly dropt,
Bearing the owner’s name someway in the corners, that we
may see and remark, and say Whose?

Or I guess the grass is itself a child, the produced babe of

the vegetation.

Or I guess it is a uniform hieroglyphic,
And it means, Sprouting alike in broad zones and narrow
Growing among black folks as among white,
Kanuck, Tuckahoe, Congressman, Cuff, I give them the
same, I receive them the same.

And now it seems to me the beautiful uncut hair of graves.

Tenderly will I use you curling grass,
It may be you transpire from the breasts of young men,
It may be if I had known them I would have loved them;
It may be you are from old people, or from offspring taken

soon out of their mother’s laps,
And here you are the mothers’ laps.

This grass is very dark to be from the white heads of old
Darker than the colorless beards of old men,
Dark to come from under the faint red roofs of mouths.

O I perceive after all so many uttering tongues,
And I perceive they do not come from the roofs of mouths
for nothing.

I wish I could translate the hints about the dead young

men and women,
And the hints about old men and mothers, and the offspring
taken soon out of their laps.

What do you think has become of the young and old men?
What do you think has become of the women and

They are alive and well somewhere,
The smallest sprouts shows there is really no death,
And if ever there was it led forward life, and does not wait
at the end to arrest it,
And ceas’d the moment life appear’d.

All goes onward and outward, nothing collapses,
And to die is different from what any one supposed, and


Che cos’è l’erba? mi chiese un bambino, portandomene a

piene mani;

Come potevo rispondergli? Non so meglio di lui che cosa


Suppongo che sia lo stendardo della mia vocazione, fatto

col verde tessuto della speranza.

O forse è il fazzoletto dell Signore,

Un ricordo profumato lasciato cadere di proposito,

Con la cifra del proprietario in un angolo sicché possiamo

vederla e domandarci di Chi può essere?


O forse l’erba stessa è un bambino, il bimbo generato dalla



O un geroglifico uniforme

Che voglia dire, crescendo tanto in ampi spazi che in strette

fasce di terra,

Fra bianchi e gente di colore,

Canachi, Virginiani, Membri del Congresso, gente comune,

io do loro la stessa cosa e li accolgo nello stesso modo.

E ora mi appare come la bella capigliatura delle tombe.


Ti userò con gentilezza, erba ricciuta,

Forse traspiri dal petto di giovani uomini,

Che avrei potuto amare, se li avessi conosciuti,

Forse provieni da vecchi, o da figli ghermiti appena fuori

dai ventri materni,

Ed ecco, sei tu il ventre materno.


Quest’erba è troppo scura per uscire dal bianco capo delle nonne,

Più scura della barba scolorita dei vecchi,

È scura per spuntare dal roseo palato delle bocche.

Oh nonostante tutto io sento il parlottio di tante lingue,

E comprendo che non esce dalle bocche per nulla.

Vorrei poter tradurre gli accenni ai giovani morti, alle


Gli accenni ai vecchi e alle madri, ai rampolli ghermiti ai

loro ventri.

Che cosa pensate sia avvenuto dei giovani e dei vecchi?

E che cosa pensate sia avvenuto delle madri e dei figli?

Vivono e stanno bene in qualche luogo,

Il più minuscolo germoglio ci dimostra che in realtà non vi

è morte,

E che se mai c’è stata conduceva alla vita, e non aspetta il

termine per arrestarla,

E che cessò nell’istante in cui la vita apparve.

Tutto continua e tutto si estende, niente si annienta,

E il morire è diverso da ciò che tutti suppongono, e ben

più fortunato.


Walt Whitman Foglie d’erba


So you think you can translate

Every time I tell someone I work as a translator, one of the most common things I hear is something like “oh, I’m great with languages, do you know where I can find translation work?”

In each different situation, I always end up not knowing what to say. Lacking some basic information about translation as a profession, people tend to believe anyone can do it. This has been discussed over and over again all around the world, among infuriated translators who often feel insulted by such a claim. On the other hand, I don’t want to lecture people or hurt their feelings by telling them they don’t have what it takes to translate professionally. After all, what do I know? So I decided to play along and assume really anyone can do it for a living. I went so far as to create my small guide on “How to become a translator in 5 “easy” steps”.

But first…

Let’s start by understanding what motivates people to say this: I’m pretty sure what seduces them most is the fact that you can work freelance.

Ah, the freelancer life: that wonderful world where you sleep late, work from home in your pyjamas or by the window of a cosy coffee shop with a hot chocolate next to your laptop, and travel the world as much as you want, earning lots of money…

Also, people tend to think this is the kind of job you can coordinate with another one. You know. A real job. Where you work from nine to five doing some serious adult things and then you come home, do a little translation and earn enough money to indulge in a spa day once in a while or splurge on that weekend getaway you’ve been dreaming about.

Well, I’m pretty sure all this is possible so let’s get to it. Here are my golden tips to get you started:

1. Obtain perfect command of your native language

Just because you’re a native speaker of a given language, that doesn’t automatically mean you have perfect command of it. There is a common misconception that translators are fluent in foreign languages. While that may be true, the fact is that the language you really need to master is the one you will be translating into, i.e., your mother tongue. So, you must be confident that you have no problems regarding spelling, grammar, syntax and punctuation. Oh and don’t forget style and readability. And don’t even get me started on coherence and consistency…

2. Get some training

In most countries, there are a number of degree courses in the translation field. If you already have a degree in some other field, you might consider doing a postgraduate course or a master’s degree in Translation. These will mainly focus on improving your knowledge of foreign languages (yes, yes, I know you’re pretty fluent already, but still…), teach you about the different types of translation (technical, literary, etc.), some techniques to deal with challenges and difficulties you are bound to come up against along the way, some resources for searching and managing translated terms and software tools to increase productivity.

3. Know your tools

As in any other profession, translators must learn the tools of the trade. There are a number of computer programs for translating different types of documents and managing translated terms so that you don’t have to keep looking for the same terms over and over again. Of course these tools aren’t exactly cheap and besides the fact that you need to invest time and money in learning how to work with them, you still need to master more than a couple as you’ll need to use different ones for different job types.

4. Know the market

Let’s go back to your original question “do you know where I can find translation work?” Now that you have perfect command of your mother tongue, accredited certification to work as a professional translator and have mastered some of the most commonly used tools, let’s find you some clients. After spending so much time investing in your training and development, I’m sure you’re starting to feel this could be a real job. And you’re invested in offering a quality service… and being paid for it. There are indeed several portals where translation jobs are posted on a daily basis and translators can apply. But maybe, just maybe, you want to be respected for your work. Also, maybe you don’t want to translate just anything that comes your way. You have preferred themes, things that interest you, that you like researching… Well, look at you thinking about specialization!

5. Understand your responsibility

I’m pretty sure that at this point you’re convinced that professional translation is not just some side gig you can do to make some extra money but something that requires skill, effort and time to ensure many problems are avoided due to misunderstanding and miscommunication around the world. People rely on translators to convey their voice in a language they do not know. A mistake in an instruction manual can result in serious injury or death, a lack of punctuation in a contract can lead to a huge financial loss… you get the picture.

So, if after reading this you’ve decided you can’t be bothered with all the hassle, let alone find the time to come up with accurate and reliable translations, leave that to someone who is crazy enough to do it and, even worse, love it. And do drop me a line if you ever need advice on finding the ideal professional for your translation needs. I’ll be more than happy to help you out.

Source: Tagslanguagesolutions