Comparative Analysis of Byron's Lyrics and Mose Karchava's Translations

The Georgian literature has been enriched by a considerable number of excellent translations through the efforts of Mose Karchava in the 20th century. They are still popular today, but up to date no one has become interested in this wonderful translator and humorist. Our goal is to conduct a scholarly research of his biography and creative translations.

We have looked for information about Mose Karchava with great care. Much to our chagrin, we have discovered that little to no interest has been shown in this talented author and translator. Only in 2009, in his book entitled Roots, V. Rodonaia devoted four pages to him as a literary figure from Chkhorotsku. "Machabeli from Chogha" - this is the title of the article dedicated to Karchava. He calls him a creator, a writer, a journalist and a translator and believes that, “in a very short period of time, he has made an invaluable contribution to the Georgian literature. Great erudition, great talent ... and unselfishness – that is what permeated his life. Our translated literature will always be embellished by works of Shakespeare, Byron, Shaw and others translated by Mr. Karchava. According to scholars and specialists, after Ivane Machabeli, Mose Karchava was the first translator who could create best renderings of masterpieces of English literature into the Georgian language [Rodonaia, 2009:505].

Mose Karchava is buried in Chogha. We reached out to Chkhorotsku residents, but we failed to find any of his family members or descendants. We looked for information on Mose Karchava in the Chkhorotsku Museum as well, but nothing of significance was discovered there either. We were only given a single issue of the magazine Niangi (“Crocodile“). In 1985, Chkhorotsku residents commemorated 20 years since Mose Karchava’s passing. In the same year, the issues #9-10 of the satirical-humorous magazine Niangi  published a brief article with an undertone of sadness under the headline "Battle-Tested Editorial Team of Niangi ." Here Mose Karchava’s kindness and chivalry are manifested through brief recollections that are full of warmth and love: Every applicant that visited the editor’s office was accepted, helped and encouraged by M. Karchava ...” [Niangelebi, 1985:4].

M. Karchava was born in 1914 [Obituary 1965:8] (1916, according to an alternative version). In 1935, after graduating from the Zugdidi Pedagogical Technical College, he became a teacher. In 1937 he was admitted to the TSU Faculty of Western European Languages and Literatures, graduating later in 1948 due to the war. He served in World War II. As we have discovered through the study of M. Karchava's life, he graduated from Telavi Military School in March 1943 and was set to the front lines of the war. In May 1943, he was captured by the enemy in the Battle of Kerch. After his escape from the prison camp in Romania, he crossed the front line, joining again his fellow soldiers there; He returned to Georgia in 1946 as a decorated veteran with the Order of the Red Star.

In 1948-1952, M. Karchava worked at the Department of English Language at Tbilisi State University and later at the State Committee of Radio and TV Broadcasting of Georgia. From 1958, he was the secretary responsible for the magazine Niangi  and a member of the editorial board, writing under the pseudonym of "Karashoti" (storm);  He was a humble and generous man with great spiritual culture and a writer blessed with artistic taste, fluent in English. This is witnessed through his "English-Georgian Proverbs and Sayings", and translations of William Shakespeare's "Timon of Athens", Jonathan Swift's "Gulliver's Journey", Oscar Wilde's "Dedicated Friend", George Byron's "Sardanapal" and lyrics, etc. He also authored the articles about the progressive foreign literature. In the end, he was working on the translation of The Genius by Dreiser and, in cooperation with the historian V. Machavariani, he was co-writing a film script about Besiki's life.

The subject of our research is to compare and contrast lyric patterns translated by Karchava with the original and analyze the translator's masterpieces. The research findings are presented by taking into account important aspects of Translation Studies.

In 1965, the publishing house "Nakaduli" published translations of Byron's lyrics, which include seven literary pieces translated by M. Karchava, of which we have selected four for our research.

While examining the originals of Byron's poems and translations by Karchava, we have applied a literary-linguistic analysis and an interdisciplinary method. Literary-linguistic analysis involves the study of the accuracy of language correspondences by comparing the original with the translation, taking the features of figurative language (epithet, metaphor, comparison, hyperbole, etc.) into account. The interdisciplinary method simultaneously includes the data of the disciplines such as linguistics, literary studies, and cultural studies.


Lines Addressed to the REV. J.T. BECHER on His Advising the Author

to Mix More with Society 

Politics holds an important place in Byron's lyrics. A romanticist author, to whom the flattery and injustice of England's aristocratic circles were totally unacceptable, firmly opposed his opponents with his fierce artistic expression. That is why he was repeatedly condemned or slandered among the politicians and academia. The poet's frustration and resentment also influenced his poetry. This was the theme of the given verse.

Blessed John Thomas Becher (1770-1848) was an English clergyman, social reformer, and Vicar-General of Southwinsmaster in 1818-1840. Becher and Byron became friends when the poet stayed on holiday at Southwell. The views of Becher, a distinguished figure, were important to the poet.

The poem is written in the second person. It clearly shows the sadness and idealistic beliefs of the dissatisfied poet - the reality of modern England is metaphorically "Etna’s cave" for him. Karchava diligently and carefully rendered the poem, perfectly representing the author’s thought. The translation maintains the theme and the idea of the original text, the poet's warm attitude to Becher, the way he considers his advice, communicating sincerely that he cannot tolerate injustice, hypocrisy, and flattery and being part of the society that is demeaning. Byron addresses Becher:

                 5                                     7                           2

,,ძვირფასო ბიჩერ, / ჭკვიანურად მარიგებ, / მირჩევ,

               5                                  4                         5

ხალხს გაერიე / -  განდეგილად / განზე ნუ დგახარ,

               5                          7                                       2

მაგრამ მე მაინც / მარტოობის სიყვარულს / ვირჩევ,

                      5                          4                        5

რად მივეტმასნო, / ვისიც ისეც  / შემზარავს ნახვა“ [Byron, 1965:12].

             4                         3                        5

„Dear BECHER, / you tell me / to mix with mankind;

              5                       5                   2

I cannot deny / such a precept is / wise;

               5                        3                          5

But retirement / accords with / the tone of my mind:

                  5                      5                2

I will not descend / to a world I / despise[Byron, 2012:756].

The original verse of the poem has 12 syllables in every line, with the exception of the 3rd one containing 13 syllables. Cross-rhyme is used. The translation is written in 14-syllable lines, still cross-rhyme, which keeps Byronic musicality. The translator uses archaisms to express Byron’s feelings and courage, giving the text an archaic flavor and exhibiting a particular resemblace to the nineteenth-century Georgian romanticists’ works.

In M. Karchava's translation, Becher recommends the poet to mix with people, and in the original text – to mix with humanity, which is a broader concept. This indicates that Byron should have taken the intentions of mankind into consideration, while the translator replaces this word with the notion - people, which narrows the idea, and the reader of the translation is under the impression that only the English people are considered. Here, it is demonstrated that Byron had been conscious about his own genius and worldly significance (just like Goethe, Pushkin, Galaktioni and so on).

M. Karchava observes the melody of the originals and correctly determines that Byron places the main emphasis on the beginning of the line. It is an appeal, an emotional exclamation that is valuble for its special tone. Accordingly, in the translation, the beginning of the line, the first term is intonated, each line is divided into three feet, which is rare in poetry; after the first foot there is a strong caesura that expresses the appeal and the emotional "excitement" of the author. The second caesura, however, is weak, but it maintains the verse melody and makes the verse correspond to the verse structure. The translator also chooses three-foot lines and repeats exactly the same types of the original Caesura.

From time to time Byron changes the number of syllables in a line so as not to damage the rhyme and melody of the verse:

         5                                  7                                    2

,,რომ ფოქსივით და / ჩათამივით ვიცოცხლო, / მოვკვდე,

             5                          4                         5

გადავიტანდი / ყოველნაირ / ხიფათს და ურვას,

             5                                       7                                  2

თვით სიკვდილითაც / უკვდავების სფეროში / მოხვდნენ,

                   5                          4                           5

შარავანდედად / იმათ საფლავს / დიდება ხურავს“ [Byron, 1965:13].

                                                                    4                   3                          5

„For the life / of a Fox, / of a Chatham the death,

            4                                        6                               3

What censure, what / danger, what woe would / I brave!

         4                           3                          5

Their lives did / not end, when / they yielded their breath,

              4                         6                       3

Their glory / illumines the gloom / of their grave[Byron, 2012:756].

It is interesting that Byron mentions two famous English politicians.

The poet writes that he wants to live like Fox and die like Chatham, though the translator says that the author wants to live as well as to die just like they do. This is not an important mistake. A look at the path of life of both politicians reveals why Byron was fascinated by Fox's way of life and the demise of Chatham.

Both the original and the translation have nine stanzas. The translation follows the content of the original and the translator does not have to make any significant changes. He tries to adjust Byron's thought to Georgian taste and introduces slight deviations. For example, in order to create an interesting metaphoric image, instead of Etna's cave, he employs a different expression - Etna's throat thus contributing to compelling imagery. For the Byron’s phrase - Borders Can Not Be caught, the translator uses different expressions - ვერ მოთოკავს. Instead of Byronic interjections, Karchava employs artistic repetition and folk style of narration to achieve emotional intensification.

E.g., ,,არ შეიძლება მოითოკოს, არა და არა...“ ,,ჰოდა, რად უნდა გავერიო მე მონებს შორის...“ ,,ავიტანო სხვის კუდში თრევა...“ ,,რად გავიყრუო მე ყურები ზვიადთა ბოდვით...“  He uses the word ”Dzmadnapitsi” (sworn brother), which is foreign to English vocabulary and culture. In this way he somehow tries to make the translation sound” more Georgian”, at the same time, striving to maintain the accuracy of the original.

Thus, the translation of this poem can be positively appreciated, as it demonstrates the translator's diligence and professionalism.


Stanzas To A Lady, On Leaving England

As Byron's contemporaries suggest, Byron called Lady Masters Mary Cheworth, who was his great love. The poem is dedicated to her and it has a romantic content. In addition to his love for the woman, the poet's patriotic attitude and disobedient spirit are clearly evident, making the content of the poem very interesting.

This is evidenced by allegorical images: ”Spetaki apra” (the poet's soul) and “the wave higher than the mast” (life's resistance). There are 6 lines in each verse of the poem. Such poems were called Mustazads in Georgia. As A. Silagadze explains, Georgian Mustazads, "the forms made of verses of different lengths (four-stanza, five-stanza, six-stanza, etc.) coincide with the forms of Mustazad found in Oriental poetry ..." [Silagadze, 2016:131], and were very much liked by Georgian romanticists.

The poem begins with a poetic exclamation followed by an interesting example of personification:  ,,ტალღას სიმღერით ეხვევა ტალღა,“ The author's poignant emotion can be identified in the lines and throughout unexpected imagery:   ,,სპეტაკ აფრებს შლის ხომალდი ჩემი და ავარდნილი ანძაზე მაღლა... ტალღა.“  The words are painted in a mysterious way, the love of a woman aggravates the feelings of sorrow and patriotism caused by separation. The author leaves England. Translator's mood can be sensed in the Georgian version. Karchava's style of translation resembles Al. Chavchavadze's poem - "I am the same forever and ever ..." This is apparent in the musicality of the translation, as well as in versification. The translator skillfully identifies the same sentiments of the two great romantics. For both the image of a sweetheart and that of their homeland are intertwined. Byron declares:

                5                      3               2                                5            3                  1

,,კვლავაც რომ ვიყო, / რაც ვიყავ / წინათ,       ,,But could I be / what  I have / been, (შიდა რითმა)

                5                              3                2                          5                1        3

კვლავაც რომ მქონდეს / მის გულში / ბინა,     And could I see what / I / have seen (შიდა რითმა)

                5                            3                2                        5             3               1

კვლავაც რომ შევძლო, / მას ვანდო / თავი,      Could I repose / upon  the / breast

          5                          3             2                                      5                         3          1

ვინც მაგრძნობინა /კარგი და / ავი,                  Which once my warmest / wishes / blest(შიდა რითმა)

       5                       3                2                                   5                  3           1

არ ვეძიებდი / სხვა მხარეს, / რადგან               I should not seek / another / zone,

      5                          3                   2                               5                1         2

ვერ შევიყვარებ / სხვას, ერთის / გარდა“       Because I cannot / love / but one

           [Byron, 1965:46].                                   [Byron, 2012:913].

Such attitude can be seen in the other lines of the original as well as the translation. As if Byron suffers, not only from love (Mary Cheworth), but from the love of England, Old Albion. Both charm and bitterness of "forbidden love" are felt in the poem. The poet could not escape the spiritual suffering, though ...

                 5                           3             2                                5                    1        3

,,...და ბევრიც ვცადე, /მოწმეა /ღმერთი,          „And I have striven, / but / in vain, (შიდა რითმა)

         5                         3                2                                     5                1      3

რომ მასზე აღარ/მეფიქრა/ მეტი                        Never to think of / it / again:

              5                          3                2                             5                    1            3

და მაინც ვტოვებ /ალბიონს, /რადგან              For though I fly / from / Albion,

        5                                3                2                                5                1         2

ვერ შევიყვარებ /სხვას, ერთის /გარდა“          I still can only / love / but one

                       [Byron, 1965:46].                                  [Byron, 2012:913].

The poet compares himself with ,,მარტო შთენილ ფრინველს“ (a lonely bird) (Archaism) and keenly feels a sense of loneliness, just like Baratashvili: ,,ხალხის ბრბოშიაც მარტო ვარ...“ This phrase also gives cause to an allusion of Galaktioni. The author's sense of loneliness reaches its culmination. He remains not only without a lover and a homeland, but also without a friend. The translation still has a hue of Byron's fighting mood: 

                       5             3                2                                           5                        2        3

„გადაიყოლოს / სხვა იქნებ / დარდმა                  Yet wish I not those /eyes / to weep

                         5             3                    2                                       5                       2          3

       ვაგლახ, მე კი რას / დამაკლებს / დარტყმა...“        For him that wanders / o'er / the  deep“

                        [Byron, 1965:47].                                                     [Byron, 2012:914].

The original verse has 11 stanzas, three-foot lines. Each line is ten-syllable and are embellished with an exact and coupled rhyme: aa, bb, cc. The verses are composed of six lines and the ending represents the same refrain: ,,ვერ შევიყვარებ სხვას, ერთის გარდა...“ ან ,,და არვინ მიყვარს, შენ ერთის გარდა...“  The translation still shows an allusion of Al. Chavchavadze's poem: "I am the same forever and ever”. [Georgian Literature, 1992:48].

The Georgian translation of the poem has eight stanzas. There is similarity not only in the content but also in the form. The original is also a six-stanza (Mustazad), with a ten-syllable metre, the rhymes are even: aa bb cc. As the 5th and 6th lines are rhymed and the end of the 6th line is repeated everywhere, this enhances the rhythm and musicality of the verse. This common rhyme brings stanzas together as an integrated whole. Mustazad is not typical to the English literature. The verse proves again that Byron was fascinated by Oriental literature and liked Mustazad. His poetic experiments were of great importance.


Vision of Belshazzar

Byron's poem “Vision of Belshazzar” is one of the most interesting works in which the author criticizes human greed, impudence, senseless passion for wealth and disrespectfulness. The text has an underlying Biblical theme. The original is written in the 2nd person and Byron addresses the king Belshazzar, while the translation is rendered in the third person and is artificially expanded. As though the idea and content of the work are preserved but the original and the translation cannot be compared at all, because Mose Karchava's poem is, in fact, a completely new composition written on the subject of Belshazzar.

The mythological plot of the verse highlights Byron's ideological position that no one, not even the king, should glorify himself. Every person must obey the divine rules and providence, otherwise he will be punished both on earth and in heaven.

The translation of the poem is performed in such a style which is not characteristic of Karchava. If the other translations reveal the translator's efforts in seeking words and phrases closest with the original language, "Vision of Belshazzar" is rendered in a very free style. For some reasons, the translator felt it necessary to narrate a Biblical story, while Byron's poem depicts only the end of Belshazzar.

In the original verse, Byron addresses the king Belshazzar. The poem is written in the second person, while the translation is in the third person. Byron tells Belshazzar that he is spiritually fallen, which is evident at the feast. There are many tyrants and unjust rulers annointed by God, but Belshazzar is the worst and the weakest of all, also impudent and sly. Byron presents an interesting example of a metaphor:

                      ,,და როგორ.. შენ უნდა მოკვდე?

წადი! ვარდები სწრაფად გაიცალე,

გააშრიალე შენი წარბებიდან...“ (Translation ours).

This is an interesting example of a metaphor with an enchanting flow of sound in English, but the translator failed to render it into Georgian. "Vision of Belshazzar" is perceived as a completely independent work, and only conventionally could it be regarded as "translation", so it deserves only criticism.


To Inez

The poem is based on a romantic motif, and is full of sadness and melancholy. The author addresses a beautiful woman who looks at him arrogantly. ,,ნუ მოგგვრის ღიმილს ჩემი მოწყენა, ვერ შეგაგებებ პასუხად ღიმილს...“ – The poet tells the woman. It seems that the lady does not sympathize with him. A slight offence is felt in the poem. It is obvious that the author expects empathy from the woman but gets disappointed. Despite his frustration, he still looks at the woman kindly and says: ,,...და ღმერთმა ნუ ქნას, აცრემლდე შენაც და ჩემებრ თავი ჩაქინდრო შენაც.“  The translator begins the dialogue with the woman with an interesting metaphor: ,,ნუ მეკითხები დარდი რად მნისლავს, რად ვკლავ ჭაბუკურ სიხარულს ბოღმით...“  For him, love is a heavy rock, under which the „exhausted man“ does not want to escape. Neither love nor hatred can force him to do it, nor can the fear of humiliation. The poet overwhelmed with romantic feelings says:

                                   5                    3             2                                     5                  1          2 

      ,,მე მბუგავს  სევდა, /რომელიც/ ჩნდება               It is that weariness/which/ springs 

                               5               3                 2                                          5               3          1

      ყოვლისგან რასაც /ვისმენ და /ვხედავ,               From all I meet, or/ hear,or /see:

                           5                    2             3                                          5                   3           1

      არ მგვრის  სიამე /თავად /მშვენება                       To me no pleasure/Beauty /brings;

                      5                        3                     2                                  5                              2            2        

      და შენი მზერაც /არ მიქრობს/ სევდას“     Thine eyes have scarce/ a charm/ for me“

                      [Byron, 1965:52].                                           [Byron, 2012:102].
         The translator creates an interesting Georgian version for a rare kind of comparison:

                                          5                       3            2                          5                  3            1

                 ,,ვით ლეგენდარულ /ებრაელს /თურმე    It is that settled, /ceaseless /gloom

                            5               2              3                                          5                     3             1

                 აყიალებდა/ბედი / წყეული,                          The fabled Hebrew/wanderer/bore,

                       5                    2              3                                          5                      3              1

                 საიქიოსაც /ეჭვით / შევყურებ,                    That will not  look / beyond the / tomb,

                         5                        2            3                                       5                 2            2        

                ქვეყნად სიამეს  /არა /ჩვეული“                  But cannot hope / for rest/ before“

                            [Byron, 1965:52-53].                                 [Byron, 2012:103].

 The original is composed of nine-stanzas, three-foot stanzas contain 9 syllables, and are embellished by precise cross rhyme. A strong emotion and transcendent love are apparent.

Here, again, Byron’s doubts emerge. The reality around him is so unacceptable to the poet that he doubts that even in Heaven could it be possible to find peace and happiness. Again, a wicked demon appears, reminiscent of Baratashvili's black raven. Byron knows that he cannot run away from it, because it is his evil thought, sorrow and grief, which traces him everywhere and gives him a poison.

M. Karchava's translation is a nine-stanza as original and is performed with a three-foot, 10-syllable metric form and cross-rhyme, indicating his diligence. He still uses the emotional style, archaic forms of the narrative and artistic forms (,,ჭმუნვის ისარი,“ ,,ბედი ტიალი,“ ,,გულის გადახსნა“...). The poet urges his beloved not to “unmask” his heart since it will reveal the “hell”. It should be noted that the metric style, rhyme and mood of the Georgian version completely correspond to those of the original.

It should also be noted that the possibilities of translation are endless. In the 21st century, a new Georgian version of this poem emerges. It belongs to Prof. Inesa Merabishvili and it is a more precise representation of the original in Georgian [Merabishvili, 2014:271].

The research findings and the conclusion were interesting. The 19th-20th century translations are clearly influenced by Russian literary traditions. Frequently, English works were translated into Georgian from Russian versions.

Gradually, the 20th century translators basic principle implied that the rendering of literature through translated versions in Georgian should be avoided.

Mose Karchava revived the old Georgian traditions of translation (e.g., Mtatsminda School – 11th century, the principle of accuracy and additions; Sargis Tmogveli, S. Orbeliani, etc.) and, from the contemporary perspective, he created an interesting translation tradition.

Mose Karchava showed the beauty of English culture and original literature to Georgian readers.

A comparison of original and translated texts convinced us that the translator was fluent in English, rendering compositions from the original texts. Karchava was well-informed in the peculiarities of English verse, metrical form, Byron's poetic style, etc. The translations show that the translator also took readers' taste, beliefs and even intellect into account. This is evidenced by the translation of "Vision of Belshazzar". M. Karchava knows that modern readers do not have the proper knowledge of religion, and extensively represents the Biblical story of Belshazzar to better illustrate the essence of the problem, the main idea of the poem, and the author's attitude.  

In the original verse, Byron only discusses Belshazzar's spiritual attitude and the end, as he believes that the public is well aware of his adventure. Perhaps that is why the translation of this poem is less powerful compared to others.

The results of the study show that Karchava has his own style of translation. He often uses archaisms to try to represent Byron’s epoch as well as language better, and also pays considerable attention to poem’s metrical structure, rhyme, and skillfully finds Georgian equvalences for English phrases. He tries to maintain the content and idea of ​​the text accurately, but at the same time he takes the original’s structure and artistic-expressive means into account.

Thus, Mose Karchava is one of the distinguished translators of the 20th century, whose life and work require serious research. Unfortunately, his merits are not properly appreciated and the proposed article is the first attempt to introduce his creative works to the public. Artistic translation is a difficult path from translation to co-authoring... This has been properly identified while exploring M. Karchava's translations.

M. Karchava's translations make clear that the translator perceives Byron's lyrics from the perspective of Georgian romanticists. The meaning between the line of his translations echoes the exact sound of their poems. Mose Karchava - "A Silent and devoted person of Georgian Literature, an Excellent Translator and Journalist ..." [Obituary, 1965:8] deserves a serious monograph ... Hopefully, we will be able to accomplish this project.


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