Discrete Representation

A digital rendition.

Two French Poems

Cheval Attaque par un Jaguar

Cheval Attaque par un Jaguar (1910) by Henri Rousseau (Source)

These are two French poems I translated a long time ago, when I was still taking French. Perhaps they will be of use to somebody. The first is by Leconte de Lisle, a French poet of the mid-19th century. The poem below was published in 1862 in a collection entitled Poemes barbares. I mostly preserved the 12-syllable lines (so-called Alexandrines) and the rhyme.

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…And My Axe

Every few months, Artisans Asylum has a cruft swap. Cruft refers to the hypothetically useful things that our magpie-like tendencies cause us to accumulate. It’s different for everyone — some accumulate yarn or fabric samples. Others accumulate wholesale lots of obsolete industrial equipment. For someone with too much stuff, the cruft swap is both a blessing and an affliction; you come to give away something you finally convinced yourself to part with, but you leave with ten other somethings.

At the January cruft swap, there were old-timey snowshoes, broken laptops, and a milk crate full of rusty tools. I picked them up one after the other. I kept coming back to the axe. I put it down, thinking I would never need it. But its shape is so naturally suggestive of its function that simply picking it up seems to imbue the holder with magic lumberjack powers. Like suddenly growing fins out of your back would make you want to go for a swim. I picked it up again.

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HSMWorks Class

Last month, I took an intro to HSMWorks at Artisans Asylum. HSMWorks is an add-on CAM package for SolidWorks. CAM (Computer Aided Machining) refers to software that forms the bridge between a CAD model and the numerous CNC machines that we have at the Asylum. It allows a user to specify the machining operations needed to cut out a part, and then simulate the operations to verify how well the result will match the original model.

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The Ballad of the Smoke-Filled Train Coach

And now for a considerably more obscure poem, which wasn’t published until long after the poet’s death. But it’s about a train crash, so I was intrigued by it. Not the Borki Train Disaster shown in the photo, but an unknown one sometime in 1932.

Borki Train Disaster

Borki Train Disaster (Source)

Unsurprisingly, Soviet railroad safety wasn’t so hot in those days. According to the Russian Wikipedia on railroad accidents, there were 43,015 train crashes and accidents in 1931, and 61,142 in 1934. The story goes that the poet, on holiday in Sochi with his wife, was supposed to take the train back to Moscow ahead of her, but found it so unbearable to leave her that he decided to delay his departure by a few days. Not until his return to the capital did he learn that the train he was originally supposed to take had crashed, and his friends had taken him for dead. The poem muses on what would have happened if he had taken the train.

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model_tag Octopress plugin

A lot of my projects involve making 3D models, so I wanted to have an easy way to display them on this blog. After all, it’s 2014, and we shouldn’t be confined to mere static renderings. My solution is not revolutionary by any means, but I want to describe it anyway.

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Two February Poems

In the waning days of February, here are two translations that I did last year around this time, of Boris Pasternak’s February and Winter Night (Zimnya Noch). Pasternak is considered one of the greatest 20th Century Russian poets, and translating his poetry is not a task to be undertaken lightly. Still, I was so dissatisfied with what I could find on the internet that I figured I might as well throw my hat into the ring.

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Song of the Petrel by Maxim Gorky

One rainy day in September 2012, I went and visited my parents. I didn’t have an umbrella so they were all upset about how I was getting wet.

And I said, I don’t like umbrellas. I don’t want to hide from the rain. I want to stand under the rain and get wet. And they said, You’re like a Burevestnik.

Stormy Petrel

Stormy Petrel (Source)

Burevestnik is a Soviet poem that all schoolchildren in the Soviet Union had to memorize. It tells of the eponymous bird who bravely embraces the storm, and is an allegory for how we shouldn’t be afraid to go through the strife of revolution to create a better society. I had read this poem before, but I looked it up again, and I kind of liked it. It’s stirring. I was like, exactly. This is why I don’t use an umbrella.

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include_poem Octopress plugin

I wrote a small plugin to enable me to easily include my poetry translations in Octopress posts, based on the include_code tag.

To install, copy include_poem.rb to your octopress/plugins directory.

It is currently optimized for the Octoflat theme and may not render properly in other themes.

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