The Adem Chandrian poem in Japanese (and French)- part 1
Volumes 4-7 of The Wise Man’s Fear in Japanese are here!!!
I am so excited!!
Standard disclaimer: my French and Japanese are fair, but not native speaker-level. So my interpretation may not be perfect.
There are a few small nuggets (which led me to fairly tinfoil kind of theory) in the second version of the Lackless poem, but need to figure out how to weave that in with the post of already done on that topic, so let’s hit the big one first: The Adem’s poem about the Chandrian at the end of chapter 128! This post covers the first three lines, Cyphus, Stercus, and Ferule. See part 2 for Usnea through the rest.
Cyphus porte la flamme bleue.
Stercus est esclave du fer.
Froid est Ferule au regard noir.
Ursea ne vit que de la ruine.
Grave Dalcenti jamais ne dit mot.
Pâle Alenta porte le fléau
Le dernier est le maître des sept :
Haï. Sans espoir. Sans sommeil.
Alaxel porte le harnais de l’ombre.
The first line is pretty much the same in all three languages: Cyphus brings the blue flame
For the record the phonetic pronunciation given for Stercus is SuTeRuKaSu, so if there was any doubt, the “c” is a hard “ck” sound.
The small phonetic difference between Ferule as it is spelled in this Chapter and the way it is spelled in NOTW Chapter 16 when Haliax says it (Ferula) exists in Japanese, just like the English version. The way it is spelled in this WMF chapter is exactly the way the real word “ferrule” is spelled in Japanese.
I have of course puzzled to no end what the English phrase “in thrall of iron” might mean, so I am going to dive deep on it here. They say Stercus is a [something] of iron, with the exact word they use being とりこ-toriko. This is actually (as I would expect for this well-done edition) a pretty spot-on translation for the concept of “in thrall of.” Toriko would translate as prisoner, slave, or captive. And while it can mean these things literally, it also often is used in phrases like “prisoner of love” or “captivated by her beauty.” (There would have been better words to use for the literal translation of a prisoner or a slave.) So this choice really emphasizes the idea that “in thrall of” has an ambiguous meaning of both being trapped and being enthralled.
The French version is: “Stercus est esclave du fer” which means Stercus is a slave of iron. While the most common usage for this word is the literal definition of slave, it is worth noting that it is also used in phrases in French such as “slave of love.” So across all three languages the ambiguity remains and I think it’s fair to say it is deliberate.
So, to translate succinctly, the next two lines from Japanese translate as:
Sterus is captive to iron / Ferrule’s eyes are cold and dark.
Look out! From this point forward in this post I mainly discuss my pet theory that Ferule is not a name. If you simply can’t abide reading about this notion because you find it utterly ridiculous, this would be a good time go ahead and skip to the second post where I cover Usnea, Dalcenti, Alenta, and “Alaxel.” There is some interesting information about those lines there.
As in the English, the Japanese phrase “captive of iron” flows straight into the word Ferule in the next line, neither supporting nor taking away from my theory that the two may have become jumbled over time.
And as I was literally prepared to type that the French version weighed in against my pet theory, I read it again and noticed something interesting…
The French version breaks the pattern followed in both the English and the Japanese versions of every line from Cyphus through Usnea beginning with the name (or supposed name in the case of Ferule) of the Chandrian in question. Why on earth would the translator not follow the grammar pattern that the author seemed to set unless they had additional context about something going on with this line? …
Here are the two lines together in French:
Stercus est esclave du fer / Froid est Ferule au regard noir
Stercus is a slave of iron / Cold is Ferule of the dark gaze.
At first glance that would seem to disprove my theory as it puts the word cold between the phrase “slave of iron” and Ferule. Except… In French the adjective comes after the noun, and they specifically have the phrase “fer froid” just like we have the phrase seen in the books: “cold iron.”
So just for fun, this could be: Stercus is a slave of cold iron is Ferule of the dark gaze.
What makes this idea compelling for me is what reason would the translator have to break the pattern of the poem UNLESS there was some sort of note from Pat such as this “cold iron” / “fer froid” phrase? Right here on the same line where Rothfuss makes it clear that the Adem’s poem is not letter-perfect because they do say Ferule instead of Ferula.
Well.. wow. I had never considered the idea that perhaps the poem as it originally existed included the phrase cold iron. Also quite a coincidence since I just got done writing a post about cold iron! Since I have come back to the topic of whether whether Ferula/Ferule is a name or the verbalization of a binding of iron…
Something else I have since pondered is what Kote says in the frame story: “There’s small harm in saying a name once, Bast.”
Chronicler (later in the page): “Does that mean they might come here? You’ve certainly been talking about them enough…”
Kote: “No. Names are the key. Real names. Deep names. And I have been avoiding them for the just that reason.”
On the one hand it would seem to imply that he has not spoken any of their real names previously in telling his tale. But he said Ferula before when narrating Day 1 Chapter 16 (and let’s face it, if Ferule/Ferula is Cinder’s name, it is self evident from the results Haliax and not the Adem is the one that had it right).
This is a small thing, with many possible excuses that one could make for it. If we take it literally though it would tell us that Ferula is not Cinder’s name.
In the sake of fairness, it’s also possible that Cinder is dead by the frame, and so his name doesn’t matter anymore. Or that since Ferule is slightly wrong (it’s Ferula), Kvothe knows it, and so that one doesn’t matter.
It’s also true that in narration Kvothe says Haliax 18 times in NOTW and 6 times before this chapter in WMF. However Skarpi said it aloud without fear, and Bast, the guy who freaked out about saying the names even once in Chapter 129, says in Chapter 151: “I would rather fight Haliax himself…” so I have to assume that either Haliax isn’t his real, deep, old name, or he is dead by the frame. (Or both.)
If you’ve stayed with me this far, click here to go to the second half of the poem, where I discuss Usnea and the rest.