The peculiarities for the understanding of Emily Dickinson’s works in Georgian Literature

In modern Georgian Translation, in general in the tendencies of translating poetry, rather actual has become the interpretation of "Female Poetry". Of course this is not accidental; literature has mirrored the social change that has occurred - the transformation of the role of a woman in modern society. The difference between the sexes does not have only a physiological feature, but also the social and economic positions that are well reflected in the so-called "female narrative". The United States of America was the first where women emancipation was founded and therefore in American Literature women problems are thoroughly and deeply represented, to show the world from a woman's outline. The famous American poet Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote: "There is a sort of impropriety in the display of woman's naked mind to the gaze of the world, with indications by which its inmost secrets may be searched out" [Dillon, 2004:138]. 

American poet Emily Dickinson was the first who created "improperty" for the society. Her thinking and poetic imagination was so unusual for the society of that time, that the publishers of did not dare to publish her works during her life and even after the death the editors thought and discussed for a long time, and edited so that Dickinson's poetical heritage may fit with the understanding of the society and reader.

The above-mentioned impedance did not hinder translators from different parts of the world to start translating Emily Dickinson's poetry. Neither did the Georgian translators fear the difficulties, furthermore, as the famous theorist of translation, Dali Panjikidze, suggests, Georgian Language has a resource for any kind of poetic translation to be done: "Georgina language and literary traditions gives an infinite opportunity to find adequate words for translating any type of text, to establish a new form of expression, based on the units of speech when it comes to translation of poetry that is different from the Georgian poetic tradition" [Panjikidze,1999:48].

Emily Dickinson is the first American poet woman whose work has been fully translated in Georgian. In 1971 in the book of translations called "American Poets" and translated by Zviad Gamsakhurdia, two verses by Emily Dickinson are included. The thirty-two verses translated by Giorgi Nishnianidze have been published in the collection printed in1985, called "A small anthology of English and American Literature." In 2005 publishing house "Diogene" printed the bilingual collection of Emily Dickinson's translation (Translators: Giorgi Nishnianidze, Medea Zaalishvili, Davit Akhaladze, Dali Intskirveli, Manana Kobaidze, Maia Natadze, Maia Jijeishvili, Lela Samniashvili), where several translation of one and the same verse is represented, as well as a prologue by Manana Kobaidze. The publication of the collection was followed by the publication of Zeinab Saradze in the Journal "Literaturuli Palitra" [Literaturuli Palitra, 2010]. Apart from this, the reader often comes across the translation of Emily Dickinson done by different translations on the Internet.

One of the first translators who translated Emily Dickinson was Giorgi Gachechiladze. His translations more or less are included in the small anthology of English and American poetry published in 1985. As the reader can see from the small comment attached to the book, the translator regards Emily Dickinson as one of the best American poet and, by the way, notes that from the American poets she was the very first to use the so-called "Sett-Rhyme". Therefore, the translator was informed about the experimental innovations, which founded her vis-à-vis and are envisaged in the translation. 

As noted, American publishers at first changed Dickinson's works: they equalled the  number of rows, managed the rhythmic structure, changed rhythms to the point of having a couple of punctuation marks obeying grammatical rules, implicit information explicitly paid, etc. All of this is very similar to how a translated works of Emily Dickinson was in Georgia.

As an example Dickinson's most famous verse "I'm Nobody" and its translation done by Gachechiladze should be mentioned:

 ,,I'm Nobody! Who are you?

Are you - Nobody - too?

Then there's a pair of us!

Don't tell! they'd advertise - you know!


How dreary - to be - Somebody!

How public - like a Frog - 

To tell one's name - the livelong June - 

To an admiring Bog!"  [Dickinson, 2005:26].


,,მე ვარ არავინ  -შენ ნეტავ ვინ ხარ? -

ნუთუ შენც დღემდე არავინ იყავ?

-კეთილი, მაგრამ ნურავის ვეტყვით, -

ყველა არავინ იმ ქვეყნად მიჰყავთ.


ვიყოთ მე და შენ ბედის ანაბრად,

კიდევ კარგი, რომ არვინ არა ვართ -

როგორ იოლად ავცდით ორივე,

აურზაურს და დავიდარაბას" [დიკინსონი, 2005:27].


The translation generally preserves the original content, but some deviations came be found, the original verse states that if the society finds out that the protagonist and the object of application are nobody they will be alienated from the world; Giorgi Nishnianidze changes this passage: God takes "Nobody" to heaven, as there is no place for him/her on Earth. To my mind this passage transforms the concept of the verse - how merciless are people (and not God) towards the people who have no social status. In addition, the text can be found in the case when the original implicit, the last two in line are encapsulated, the translator brings on surface "how easily we avoided fuss and jam." However, the translation does not show the author's assessment of developments - humiliating struggle to make the world your place. 

In addition, the stylistic components of the poem are completely changed: the original rhythm of the gaps, endless suggestions, syntax - abnormal, and in translation, on the contrary, there is dynamic narrative, the rhythm is musical, offers comprehensive sentences, on the foreground comes the nonentity of the lyrical hero, and the satisfaction with the fact that he/she avoided all earthly concerns.

Two tophi tools are used in the verse, anaphor and comparison, which are not preserved in the translation. The original satires replaced by density as mentioned above, the fate adapted to the specific content of human sentiment. This freeness can be seen in the rhythmic-metric structure of the translation: The abnormal rhythmic acute of Emily Dickinson: 3. 3. 3. 4. (I stanza) are equalized in Georgian and create a sharp euphonic sound, it is also full by the rich dactylic rhythm usual for Giorgi Nishnianidze (ანაბრად - არა ვართ - დავიდარაბას), that replaces the formal masculine rhythm of Emily Dickinson.

I outlined the translation of Giorgi Nishnianidze, because he is an outstanding translator and should be paid more attention than other translators, although the general features of Nishnianidze's translation can be generalized on other translations of Dickinson done by the same author.

We can distinguish several types of this case: when the translator avoids the adequately bringing  of the original text into Georgian and by the forming of the general characteristics of the variations in fact creates a new poem:

,,This is my letter to the World,

That never wrote to Me -

The simple News that Nature told-

With tender Majesty. . . " [Dickison, 2005:22].


,,ვუხმობ სამყაროს, დაუსაბამოს,

მე, მონატრული მისი ნუგეშის,

არ დამდებია გულზე მალამოდ,

არ ჩავუკვრივარ თბილად უბეში. . . " [დიკინსონი, 2005:23].

(Translator- Maia Jijeishvili)


,,Crackling with fever, they Essay,

I turned by brimming eyes away,

And come next hour to look "  [Dickinson, 2005:155].


,,დამსკდარ ბაგესთან ღვინოს მიიტანს,

წუთით დავტოვებ თავის ტკივილთან -

მისი ვარამის ცქერა ძნელია" [დიკინსონი, 2005:156].

                   (Translator - D. Akhaladze)


We have already discussed and on an example researched a case, when the translator, according to the traditional taste, alters Emily Dickinson's Poetics, but this does not concern one translator, we can bring many examples, how the experiments of American Poet was replaced by traditional Georgian Translation. Here is one more example:


,,How dreary - to be _ Somebody!

 How public - like a Frog -

To tell one's name -the livelong June -

To an admiring bog! "   [Dickinson, 2005:28].


,,ხომ დამღლელია, რომ იყო ვინმე,

ხავსებს უვარცხნო ხაო,

შენი სახელი ნასათუთევი

ამცნო ობიან ჭაობს"  [დიკინსონი, 2005:27].

                (Translator- Maia Jijeishvili)


"The tender name" and the poetical image "brushing the moss" has nothing in common to the original and cannot be seen as a logical implicit insertion. We come across another syntagm- "announce to the mouldy bog". The same syntagm is suggested by Lela Samniashvili as follows:

,,და ბაყაყივით -შენი სახელი -

ყიყინით მოსდო სანუკვარ ჭაობს" [დიკინსონი, 2005:29].

ახლა ვნახოთ დალი ინწკირველის ნამუშევარი:

,,... და აღტაცებას გამოსტყუებ

ჭაობის ვირთხას[დიკინსონი, 2005:29].


Why is there such a difference in thinking to the original which states "admiring bog"? The point is that the moor, which claps and adores you, turned out to be a very extraordinary icon for Georgian consciousness. In fact, the marsh figuratively is associated with aggression and pulling down, but not the case with something that adores you. Therefore, translators, so they can say, have trusted the phrase in the first and obvious meaning and tried a different interpretation of syntagm. Such a competent translator as Lela Samniashvili was mistaken. She mixed up "admiring" with "admirable". As for M. Jijeishvili, she gave advantage to form, mildewed marsh at first, because in our sub consciousness the marsh is related to mold and dampness and, secondly, I think, because, mildewed marsh is alliteration and sounds well. As for the translation "swamp rat ", it should be regarded as an expression of free associative thinking.

Zeinab Sarade started translated Emily Dickinson after she read the bilingual collection of Emily Dickinson published by "Diogene" and decided that none of the translators were capable of producing a good translation. The translational principle of Zeinab Saradze is commitment towards original text and refuses any kind of distancing from the original text. Her translations follow the English text just as interlinear translation. The abnormal rhythm, disordered punctuation is preserved. It can be said that Zeinab Saradze is not influenced by the traditional Georgian poetics, avoids any kind of pattern and strictly observes the requirements of minimalism. The translation of Zeinab Saradze is as following:


This is my letter to the world,

That never wrote to me,--

The simple news that Nature told,

With tender majesty.

Her message is committed

To hands I cannot see;

For love of her, sweet countrymen,

Judge tenderly of me!  [დიკინსონი, 2005:22].



,,ვუგზავნი სამყაროს წერილს  -

თავად ის არ მწერს  -

ვაცნობებ ქალბატონ ბუნების

უბრალო ახალ ამბებს.


უხილავ ხელებს

წერილი უკავია ამ წამს.

ერთსა ვთხოვ ადრესატს  -

ნუ განმსჯის მკაცრად [ლიტერატურული . . .  2010:67]


Zeinab Saradze on the contrary to different translators choses to simplify the components of the verse. But on the other hand, this tendency cannot be regarded as a commitment to the original text, because it is not as minimalist as the translation suggests. In this translated version such images as "tender Majesty", "sweet countrymen" are lost. They are replaced by the dry and official conotational word "Addressee". Deliberately is changed the original tone of the verse: all complex sentences are made into a simple translation.  Interesting may seem the effort of the translator to use "indirect" rhythm.  However, it is noteworthy that, first of all, the original verse is conventional and the secondly: English rhythm may cause acute or artistic expression, through which the poem still retains musical. As for Georgian, due to the passive role of the acute, the general accent is drawn on the rhythm, and therefore the "indirect" rhythm of Saradze does not create the aesthetic value of Emily Dickinson. 

We can therefore conclude that the effort from the translator's side to simplify the minimalist and smooth poetry gives us an inadequate translation, and when there is hyperbolisation the verse become overloaded.

To my mind, from the translators of Emily Dickinson a more or less accurate strategy is chosen by Lela Samniashvili. Although it does not meet the demands of modern translation, compared to other translators, still is superior, because first of all the translator has found some kind of subordination: She never abandons the original content. Although she prefers the exact rhythms, but her translation of like Dickinson's poetry, is never either too melodic or dynamic; Lela Samniashvili accurately restores the function of the author's use of various dash and uses them for empathize several words:


,,მოსაწყენია  - იყო ვიღაცა -

სხვა ყველას მსგავსი  - ვინც ცხოვრობს,


და ბაყაყივით  - შენი სახელი  -

ყიყინით მოსდო სანუკვარ ჭაობს!"  [დიკინსონი, 2005:29].



,,ცა დაბლაა. ღრუბლებია პირქუში

და მღელვარედ სივრცეში რომ ტრიალებს -

ბეღლის გასწვრივ თუ ღრმა თხრილში დაცემას -

ფიქრობს - თოვლის ფიფქი - მოხეტიალე[დიკინსონი, 2005:33].


The component that makes the translation of Lela Samniashvili finds resemblance with Emily Dickinson's original text is the metrical grammar that the translator more or less preserved. But for Georgian Poetics the transfer of attention towards acute is rather unusual, but it was not impossible and the effect of Dickinson can be seen in the translation:


,,მე მიყვარს ფერი აგონიისა,

ვიცი, ის არის სუფთა -

კაცი ტანჯვას ვერ გამოიგონებს -

რაც ბინდად ჩაუგუბდა

ორივე თვალში. . . "  [დიკინსონი, 2005:145].


We can conclude that Georgian translators use different methods and try to adjust to the poetical style of Emily Dickinson, and if none of the translators have succeeded so far the developing tendencies give a chance of success, especially that Lela Samniashvili is on the right tracks.

According to Bonnefoy, for the successful translation of a verse the proximity between world of the author and the translator is needed [Bonnefoy, 1992:186], then it is not surprising that Lela Samniashvili coped with the task better than any other translator, to see the characteristic and individuality of Emily Dickinson's poetry, and break through her own prism and so provide to the Georgian reader. Their tandem set about, when Lela Samniashvili, who is now an important figure of modern Georgian poetry, when the literary career of Lela Samniashvili was about to start. If we draw parallel between the individual styles of these two artists, we will see that the influence that Emily Dickinson had on young Georgian translators became the individual feature of Lela Samniashvili's poetry and became organic to Georgian poetry. For example:


,,შენი ცა, მგონი, შენს ჭაობზე უსიერია.

და ეს დუმფარაც ალბათ ციდან დააგდე წყალზე

და სიღრმისაკენ ჩააყოლე ფესვები ბასრი.

არ ვიცი, როგორ გაიმეტე. ან იქნებ ასე -

აუნთე ჭაობს ერთადერთი ბრდღვიალა ჭაღი.

ის - არც კი ამჩნევს ამ სიბნელეს. და ალბათ არ ღირს

არც ჩემგან -  ასეთ საყვედურებს -  ფოთლების სიბრტყეს

ვაწერდე -  შენთვის, რომ დახედო. არც ერთი სიტყვა -

ჰაერის ბუშტი -  ბაყაყების სლიპინა ენებს

არ ასცდენია."  [სამნიაშვილი, 2010:75]


The theme of the marsh is rather interesting. The marsh is a metaphor of the immoral and mercantilist fuss of mankind and its inhabitant frog is the typical mediocre, who gets pleasure by judging others (compare Emily Dickinson's metaphor: The frog who tries to get admire from the wetlands). The Narrative has the form of a discussion, seeking linkage between reason and effect; the verse is characterised by intermittent, thinking full of hesitation, rational attempt to understand emotions; the form of the verse is interesting, because the skeleton of the verse is based on the rhythmic interchange of syllables (that is unfamiliar for Georgian literary tradition). All of this creates a restrained verse of the song, the rhythm, the sound element in traditional verse, the minimum function that is characteristic to Emily Dickinson's works. Apart from this the rhythms are inaccurate and remind us the style of the American poetess, not to say anything about punctuation. By these stanzas of Lela Samniashvili (and of course not only this ones) it is clear that hyphen (the punctuation sign of not much importance in Georgian language) becomes a stylistic feature of the poet that is the same for Emily Dickinson.  The dash shows the interruption of mind that is a result of the internal struggle of the poetess. It should be noted that for Lela Samniashvili the using of hyphen became organic and therefore she uses it not only during the creation of her original verses but during translating other poets as well:

,,მე დავიღალე ამ ყველაფრით და სიკვდილს ველტვი,

რომ არ ვუმზერდე -ღირსება რომ მათხოვრად იშვა, -

არარაობა როცა ზეობს და ამის მეტი

რაც გიერთგულებს, - ყოველივე -ღალატის ნიშნად. . ." [შექსპირი, 2012:15].


As we can see, to put it mildly, it is obvious that in general the individual characteristics of Lela Samniashvili style create an allusion to Emily Dickinson's poetry. Suchwas settled down the innovation literature, which once shocked the United States. It is a remarkable fact that in Georgian poetry the transfer of the style of Emily Dickinson becomes visible.

One more important Georgian poet where we come across to the reminiscence of Emily Dickinson's poetry is Zviad Ratiani, but unlike the above-mentioned poet [Gaprindashvili, 2012:176] we have the case when one poet consciously recognizes himself as the successor of the other. 

Zviad Ratiani is deeply and thoroughly familiar with American poetry. He has translated a number of American poets. From which noteworthy is the translation of Thomas Stearns Eliot's four poems and critical letters and essays dedicated to the issues of American Poetry. By the way, Zviad Ratiani is the poet who first introduced in literature American poetry a number of thematic, tropuli or structural components established in American poetry. He calls himself a poet "consisting of inflences": "I cannot say which particular poet I imitate, but all too often there is not any kind of poetry in imitation of moments. These poets have been influencing me at different stages" [Kodalashvili,]. The analysis of the famous verse od Zviad Ratiani "The letter to secret mother", makes us think that "secret mother" is associated with Emily Dickinson.

First of all, the abstract concept of the verse is personification to the female sex, mother, where the poet finds shelter, but at the same time remains unnatainable for the lyrical poet. The Generalized notion of subliming lady gives the reader a feeling of internal logic that the woman's face should be related to the great poetess; the idea that this can be the poetess Dickinson is invoked by the preceeding lines of Dickinson as an epigraph.

,,This is my letter to the world,

That never wrote to me,--

The simple news. . ."  [რატიანი, 2009:74].


In addition, the structure of the poem suggests an allusion to Dickinson's poetic style: American poet often used the women's narrative form characterized by questions, which then leads to the development of a discussion:


,,რატომ გიყვები ამ ყველაფერს? რატომ ჩავთვალე,

რომ ის ხარ, ვისაც ყველაფერი უნდა გავანდო?

რაც უფრო ვტყუი,  შენ მით უფრო რად ხარ მართალი?

ან რატომ ვცდილობ, წარმოსახვა დავიავადო

შენით, რომელიც თუ არსებობ, მისით არსებობ,

ამ წარმოსახვით. .. " [რატიანი, 2009:78].


Also the uneven rows are striking, which seems to violate the rhythm, disappoint the reader's expectations, knowing that there must be more clearly amount of syllables, in addition, Zviad Ratiani often uses anzhambeman. This method of Emily Dickinson's poetry is characterized by both strong individual characters:

,,რაც ლამაზია, ყველაფერი არ იკოცნება.

შესაბამისად მეც მრჩება შანსი

გავხდე მორწმუნე. თუნდაც მხოლოდ ლექსის ფარგლებში" [რატიანი, 2009:74].


In addition, a key stanza of the verse, "you know who you are. I do not know. . . " creates for the reader a clear association to the famous phrase by Emily Dickinson: "I'm nobody.Who are you?" raises the assumption that the application of the poet, who is still searching for its place and voice in poetry, the poet, who has already found its place, and poetry became a kind of symbol, as sometimes called, "poetry nuns".

We can conclude that the works of Emily Dickinson found its place in Georgian Literature. It is a rare case in the history of our translation, that so many translators were interested with one and the same poet. This fact clearly indicates that the American woman poet in our country is believed to be the creator of the culture aesthetics, poetry that enriches the diversity of thinking.

The reflection of Dickinson's work in the works of two outstanding Georgian poets shows that in the case of Lela Samniashvili we have to deal with the portrayal of the individual style of Emily Dickinson, whereas in the case of Zviad Ratiani, who is not the direct translator of Emily Dickinson, but is well aware of American Literature give a reminiscence of it in his work.

Based on the foregoing it can be assumed that the great American poet woman, Emily Dickinson, even for a long time will remain for a very interesting and important figure in Georgian Literature and literary translation or get involved in Georgian literary life in other ways.


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