Stephen Spender Poetry Prize submission

Here is Louisa’s translation of the rap song “Das Beste Ist Noch Nicht Vorbei” by Fiva MC and a video of her performing it on guitar.

Her work was entered into the Stephen Spender Poetry Translation Competition and received a special commendation!

Das Beste ist Noch nicht Vorbei (rap)
Fiva

Mach die Augen auf, denn heute regnets nicht
Niemand ist perfekt und unperfekt sein geht es nicht

Schieb die Wolken weg, und dann bewegst du dich,
Soweit dich deine Füsse tragen, wenn auch nur zum Nebentisch

Balsam auf die Seele, und die Sorgen legen sich,
Heute Nacht wenn du allein bist, sicher nicht mehr neben dich

Zeig mal das Gesicht das gute Zeiten kennt,
Wenn man nicht schnell vergisst
Hilft, es wenn man kurz verdrängt
Du bist nicht der Typ,

Der still steht wenn er flieht,
Du bist Superman und der Stillstand Kryptonit,

Weg von dem Platz an dem ich deine Träume platzen seh,
Heut gibts keine Fehler, höchstens eine Schnapsidee

Und wenn du rennst und denkst es geht nicht
Weiter auf dem Weg den du gerade gehst

Schick ich dir Wind und Schauer trägt dich,
Solang dir dein Atem fehlt

Das Beste ist noch nicht vorbei
Das Beste ist noch nicht vorbei
Gib mir die Hand und wir springen zusammen bei 1, 2,3
Das Beste ist noch nicht vorbei
Das Beste ist noch nicht vorbei
Gib mir die Hand und wir rennen zusammen bei 1, 2,3

You’ll see the best is soon to be (rap)
Fiva

Open your eyes now, because today’s rain free
No one is perfect, and imperfect just cannot be

Push the clouds away, get yourself off the floor,
As far as your feet take you if only to the table next door

Put some balm on your soul and your worries will subside
Tonight when you’re alone, those worries will certainly have died

Show the side of you that knows all the good times
So you don’t forget this side, think about it sometimes

You are not the type,
Who stands still when they fly
You are Superman, and standstill is kryptonite
We are away from the place where I saw your dreams shatter

Today there’s no mistakes, at most some mad grey matter
And if you go and think you can’t run
further on the path you are travelling through

I’ll send you wind, it will take you on
As long as there’s breath in you

You’ll see the best is soon to be
You’ll see the best is soon to be
Give me your hand and we will jump together on 1, 2, 3
You’ll see the best is soon to be
You’ll see the best is soon to be
Give me your hand and we will run together on 1, 2, 3

Commentary (Describe 3 examples of difficult decisions you had to make when translating the poem and explain how you overcame them)

Because I was translating a German rap, I had to think very carefully about which words would need to be stressed so that my translation stayed with the same emphasis as the original. I also aimed to place the caesuras in the same place, so this affected my choice of words on occasions. For the same reason, I also had to think carefully about the number of syllables I used in my translation. Sometimes I would resort to a contraction in order to make this work. An example of this is on the first line when I write, “today’s rain free”.

The German rap is in rhyming couplets, apart from the penultimate two stanzas, which follow an “a,b,a,b” rhyme scheme. When translating, my choice of words was also affected by aiming to keep to this rhyme scheme. On occasions, I used assonance or half rhyme in order to make this work. An example of this is “fly” and “Kryptonite”.

The most challenging part was ensuring that my translation stayed as close to the original meaning, whilst trying to adhere to the rhyme scheme and rhythm of the original rap at the same time. For example, I changed the meaning of the title refrain very slightly, as I felt it was crucial that it rhymed with “1,2,3”. A direct translation of “Das Beste ist noch nicht vorbei” should be “The best is not over yet” but I changed it to “You’ll see the best is soon to be” which still indicates the positive message of the line whilst keeping to they rhythm and rhyming.